Feb. 7, 2008
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Natasha Vital and Ashley Walker posted 17 points each to lead No. 9 California to a 56-45 victory over Oregon State Thursday night at Gill Coliseum. The Golden Bears improved to 20-3 overall (11-1 Pac-10), marking only the second time in school history that Cal has registered consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins. In 2006-07, Cal finished with a 23-9 record. Oregon State dropped to 10-13 (3-9 Pac-10).
The first time Cal recorded consecutive 20-plus win seasons was in 1980-81 (23-13) and 1981-82 (23-10). Overall, the Bears have had seven seasons with at least 20 wins. The school record of 24 wins was set in 1983-84 (24-8).
Vital, a sophomore guard, and Walker, a junior forward/center, were the leaders of Cal's strong second half. After halftime, Vital posted all of her points and Walker tallied 16 of her 17 points. Junior forward/center Devanei Hampton contributed 12 points - six in each half - to help the Bears maintain a one-game lead over Stanford for first-place in the Pac-10. The Cardinal beat Oregon tonight to improve to 10-2, and Arizona State is 9-2.
After trailing 13-11 at halftime, Cal began the second half strong and equaled its first-half point total in the first four minutes, five seconds. Hampton converted a layup to ignite a 6-0 Cal run to start the second half, giving the Bears a 17-13 lead. The Bears clung to a 19-18 edge after Oregon State's Alexis Mitchell, who led her team with 13 points off of the bench, converted a three-point play with 16:23 left in the game.
Vital then hit her first of three three-pointers and Walker scored a transition layup off of one of Vital's six assists tonight to give the Bears their biggest lead at that point at 24-18.
Talisa Rhea scored a basket to bring the Beavers back within 26-24 with 13:38 to go. Cal responded with a 12-4 spurt, keyed by two more treys by Vital and two inside moves by Hampton, to secure a 38-28 margin at the 6:46 mark.
Walker scored five straight points for the Bears, capped by a three-point play with 3:39 on the clock, to put Cal ahead, 43-32.
Cal owned a 45-34 advantage with about two minutes to play before the Beavers chipped five points off the Bears' lead after a three-pointer by Rhea with 54 ticks left.
Oregon State began fouling Cal with about a minute to play, and the Bears were able to seal the win at the free throw line. The Bears made 15-of-17 free throws for the game, including 11-of-12 over the final 1:01.
Walker was 9-of-11 from the foul line in the game (7-of-8 down the stretch) and propelled Cal to its largest lead at 56-43 with two free throws with 12 seconds on the clock.
The first half was plagued by poor shooting and turnovers by both teams. Cal shot 27.8 percent and committed 12 turnovers, and Oregon State hit 21.7 percent from the floor and had 11 turnovers.
Cal led 7-4 with 15:03 to go in the first half behind four of Hampton's six first-half points. Oregon State went on a modest 7-0 run to secure an 11-7 edge with 3:13 left in the opening half. The Beavers led 13-9 before Alexis Gray-Lawson sank a jumper to send the Bears into the locker room down 13-11. The 13 points are the fewest Cal has allowed in a half this season, and the Bears' 11 points are the fewest they've scored in a half in 2007-08.
Behind a 51.9 percent second-half field goal percentage, Cal finished the contest at 42.2 percent. The Bears, which swept the regular-season series over Oregon State for the second consecutive year, limited the Beavers to 36.7 percent shooting.
The teams were tied at 30-30 on the glass, with Walker topping Cal with eight boards.
Ashley Allen, who began the day as Oregon State's leading scorer at 16.4 ppg, was held to 10 points.
Cal returns to action at Oregon Saturday, Feb. 9, at 1 p.m. at McArthur Court.