Jan. 12, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Coming off of a 55-48 win at Washington State, No. 22/22 California (12-4, 3-3 Pac-10, T4th Pac-10) plays at Washington (12-6, 5-2, 3rd) Saturday, Jan. 13, at 1:30 p.m. in search of the Bears' first-ever road sweep of the Washington schools. Cal, which also began last season at 12-4 (4-2 Pac-10), is off to one of its best starts in school history.
Last season, Cal swept Washington State and Washington in Berkeley during the final week of the regular season. The Bears defeated the Huskies, 81-58, to complete the sweep with their biggest margin of victory ever over Washington.
After beginning the season ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press and USA Today-ESPN coaches' poll, the Bears have been ranked every week of the season. They've risen to as high as No. 15 in the AP poll and No. 16 in the coaches' poll, which are their best rankings in the history of both polls.
Cal is 4-3 since sophomore guard Alexis Gray-Lawson tore her ACL and meniscus against Kansas Dec. 10. Gray-Lawson, the 2005-06 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, had successful surgery to repair both ligaments Jan. 10. The Bears, who have only nine healthy scholarship players, typically use a seven-player rotation since Gray-Lawson's injury.
Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker continues to post All-American caliber numbers for Cal. Walker led Cal with 20 points - her fifth game with 20 or more this season - in the victory over Washington State Jan. 11. The Modesto, Calif., native leads Cal in scoring (18.1 ppg, 3rd Pac-10) and rebounding (9.0, 1st Pac-10). As a team, Cal tops the Pac-10 in rebounding margin at +6.4 and is fifth overall at 38.9 (38.0 rpg in 2005-06).
Sophomore forward/center Devanei Hampton teams with Walker to form one of the most dangerous post combinations in the nation. Hampton is second on the Bears in scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg) after recording her second double-double (14 points, season-high 13 rebounds) of 2006-07 vs. the Cougars.
Freshman Natasha Vital assumed the starting point guard duties for Cal following the injury to Gray-Lawson. Vital averages 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg and leads the team with 42 assists (2.6 apg). Freshman guard Lauren Greif has started all 16 games for Cal and contributes well-rounded numbers (8.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.4 apg). Greif is also the Bears' top long-distance threat, converting 40.8 percent (6th Pac-10).
Senior guard Keanna Levy rounds out Cal's starting lineup. Levy averages 7.4 ppg and 3.9 rpg in her first season as a starter.
Freshman forward/center Rama N'diaye is Cal's top performer off the bench, tallying 6.1 ppg and 3.0 rpg.