Feb. 25, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. - Freshmen Jene Morris and Ashley Walker posted 19 points each to lead California to an 81-58 victory over Washington Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion in both team's regular-season finale. The Golden Bears improved to 18-10 overall (10-8 Pac-10) and snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Huskies with their largest margin of victory ever over their Pac-10 rival. Washington fell to 18-9 overall (11-7).
"Huge, a great win for us," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle. "I told these guys how proud I am of them. Our backs have been against the wall all year. We've been riding a rollercoaster. We were put in a situation where it was a must win for us today, not that we ever talked about that. They knew in the back of their minds what was at stake, and they rallied for Renee (Wright), being her Senior Night, and our last night here at Haas in the regular season and the chance to go to the (NCAA) Tournament. They put everything out there. It showed. This is probably one of our best wins of the year."
The Bears' other two starting freshmen also had big offensive performances. Guard Alexis Gray-Lawson tallied 17 points, and center Devanei Hampton poured in 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Wright was honored before the game and contributed eight points, six rebounds and tied her career high of six assists.
Cal led 36-27 at the half and built a 41-27 edge with 18:32 left in the game before Washington slowly chipped away at the Bears' lead. Gray-Lawson hit a jumper to put her team up 51-41 with 10:28 to play, but Emlily Florence hit four free throws and Kristen O'Neill made a layup to cut Cal's advantage to 52-47.
With Washington trailing only 54-49 with 7:22 remaining, Gray-Lawson converted another jumper and Hampton made a layup to ignite an 11-0 Cal run, giving the Bears a 65-49 lead less than three minutes later. The Huskies scored nine points the rest of the contest and didn't take advantage of Walker and Hampton each recording their fourth fouls with over 10 minutes to play. Each athlete alternated sitting on the bench, but both were in the lineup after the eight-minute media timeout.
"At about eight minutes, I decided we were going to go with both of them, and if one of them fouls out, then I have Krista (Foster) down the stretch, and I'm totally comfortable with that," said Boyle. "We changed up. We went to a little bit of zone, and then we got burned on it. Then, we made a little bit of a run and were comfortable going back into man. We did a good job. As a coach, you play the guessing game."
Junior guard Keanna Levy scored in the paint to give Cal its biggest advantage of the game at 81-55. Morris posted nine of her points, including two of her three treys in the final six minutes. She matched her career high of 19 points, originally set in a win over Marshall in November.
"I wasn't looking to shoot, but they were leaving me open," said Morris. "I figured I might as well take the shots, and I wasn't missing."
Washington jumped out to a 6-2 lead after Andrea Plouffe sank two three-pointers. The Bears responded with a 12-3 run, capped by a jumper from Hampton to grab a 14-9 edge. Walker, who had 16 first-half points, notched consecutive baskets to give the Bears' their biggest first-half lead at 32-21 with 4:19 left until halftime.
Plouffe, Cameo Hicks and Breanne Watson paced Washington with 13 points each. O'Neill contributed 12 points off the bench.
Cal shot a Pac-10-season best of 55.9 percent, including an eye-popping 73.9 percent in the second half, while the Huskies made 33.3 percent of its shots from the floor.
The Bears coughed up the ball only 12 times and forced the Huskies into 19 turnovers. Morris led Cal with four steals.
Cal returns to action Saturday, March 4 at 11 a.m. as the No. 6 seed in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. The Bears must await the result of tonight's USC vs. Oregon State game to know its next opponent. If USC wins, Cal faces the Women of Troy. Otherwise, the Bears meet UCLA, which defeated Oregon, 66-65, in Eugene today.
"We're banged up about as much as we can be, and they don't complain," said Boyle. "We just do what we do, and we do it well. We did it exceptionally tonight. I'm so happy for them to have this day. They were more excited that I gave them two days off, I think, than the win. They deserve it. They deserve to have fresh legs and to have a couple of good practices this week and take note of us trying to do some damage in the Pac-10."