Jan. 10, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After equaling its best start in 14 seasons, California (12-4, 4-2 Pac-10, T3rd) travels across the Bay to face No. 14/15 Stanford (10-4, 5-1, 1st) Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.
This year's Golden Bears, who are under the direction of first-year head coach Joanne Boyle, have the same record through 16 games as the 1992-93 team. In 1992-93, Cal recorded its last winning record (19-10) and postseason berth in program history. Cal's 4-2 conference mark is its best open to a season since the 1991-92 squad had the same mark through six contests.
Cal is coming off a road split last week - a 70-41 setback against Oregon and a 71-50 triumph vs. Oregon State. The win over the Beavers lifted Cal past last season's win total (11-18 overall record) and gave the Bears their biggest conference margin of victory since a 101-79 decision at Arizona State Jan. 6, 1996. The last time the Bears grabbed more than 12 victories was in 1992-93.
This year's Bears lead the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 55.1 ppg, which is just ahead of Oregon (55.2 ppg). Freshman forward/center Ashley Walker (Modesto) continues to lead the league in blocked shots at 1.94 bpg, while freshman guard Jené Morris (San Francisco) is second in steals at 2.86 per contest.
Cal stands eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring at 64.3 ppg, with four freshmen pacing the team in points. Center Devanei Hampton (Oakland) is first on the team and seventh in the conference at 15.5 ppg, which puts her on track to be the Bears' highest scoring player since Patrycja Czepiec averaged 15.9 ppg in 1996-97. Guard Alexis Gray-Lawson (Oakland) is second on this year's team in scoring at 13.1 ppg, Walker is third at 12.9 ppg, and Morris is fourth at 7.6 ppg.
Senior forward Reneé Wright (6.9 ppg, Antelope) joins Hampton, Gray-Lawson, Walker and Morris in the starting lineup. Wright is a blue-collar worker who also provides a calming influence on the court for the young Bears. Mississippi State (6-9) also starts four freshmen this season.
Walker has posted double-doubles in each of her last three games for an average of 13.7 ppg and 13.7 rpg. With Walker leading the way with a 7.4 rpg average (fourth Pac-10), Cal boasts three of the top eight rebounders in the conference. Hampton is fifth at 7.0 rpg, and Wright is eighth at 6.7 rpg.