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No. 8/6 California Plays On the Road in Oregon
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/20/2009

Jan. 20, 2009

BERKELEY -

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Thursday, Jan. 22, 7:00 p.m.: No. 8/6 Cal at Oregon State, Corvallis, Ore; Saturday, Jan. 24, 2:00 p.m.: No. 8/6 Cal at Oregon, Eugene, Ore (Radio: KALX 90.7 fm, TV: none)

For just the second time since joining the Pac-10 in 1986, the California Golden Bears (5-0 Pac-10, 14-2) have started the season with a 5-0 mark in conference play. Overall, the Bears have now started conference play 5-0 or better five times in program history, but they have only gone 6-0 or better twice, in 1981-82 when they went 8-0 to begin their NorCal Conference play as well as last season's 8-0 Pac-10 start. The Bears take a six-game winning streak to Oregon, the longest active streak in the conference. This is the second-longest winning streak of the season for the Bears who won seven games to being this season.

Cal moved back into the top-10 in the AP poll, coming in at No. 8 this week. Cal has been ranked in the top-10 in the /USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' poll all season, this week moving up to No. 6. They have been ranked in the top-10 in at least one of the two polls in 22 of the last 23 rankings.

The Bears are in sole possession of first place in the Pac-10, a game up on the Stanford Cardinal (14-3, 4-1 Pac-10) and two games up on Oregon (7-9, 4-2 Pac-10) and Arizona State (12-6, 4-2 Pac-10).

This week, the Bears take the long road trip to Oregon, opening up on Thursday night at Oregon State and finishing off Saturday afternoon at Oregon. Cal has won eight of the last nine meetings against Oregon State and six of last seven against Oregon. The Bears have won the last four match-ups with Oregon State in Corvallis, including a 67-61 double-overtime marathon in 2006-07. However, victories in Eugene have been harder to come by for Cal. The Ducks have successfully defended the home court with last season's 53-34 victory by the Bears in Eugene snapping a streak of 14 straight losses at McArthur Court by Cal.

After scoring 37 points in Sunday's victory over Stanford, junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson was named the Pac-10 player of the week, the first time in Gray-Lawson's career she has earned the honor. It is the third time this season a Cal player has been named Player of the Week with Ashley Walker earning the honor twice in the month of December. Gray-Lawson's award is the 33rd time a Cal player has earned the honor since they became a member of the Pac-10 in 1986. She is the 15th Cal player to be named Pac-10 Player of the Week at least once.

LEADING THE PAC-10 Senior forward Ashley Walker continues to leads the Pac-10 in scoring average. Her 20.6 ppg paces the conference and ranks her 13th among all DI players. Dawn Evans of James Madison leads the nation at 24.5 ppg. Arizona's Ify Ibekwe is the only other Pac-10 leader to be ranked in the top-100 this week, coming in at No. 96 with 15.8 ppg. Walker is second in the Pac-10 and 14th in the country in field goal shooting percentage (57.8 percent). Junior guard Natasha Vital's impressive 46.9 percent three-point shooting efficiency has her leading the Pac-10. She has hit 23 treys in 49 attempts this season. Natasha Vital's 3-for-3 performance from three-point range against Arizona State moved her back to the top of the Pac-10 leader board in three-point efficiency after briefly falling to second. Vital has four games in which she has hit three or more treys in a contest. She was 2-for-5 against Washington State and 1-for-2 against Washington. Vital is shooting 40.0 percent (13-of-33) in Pac-10 games this season. Freshman guard Casey Morris is 5-for-11 45.5 percent and Alex Gray-Lawson is 7-for-16 43.8 percent in Pac-10 play.

DEFENSE There are only three teams in all of NCAA Division I women's basketball allowing fewer points by its opponents than Cal. Cal is holding opponents to an average of 52.1 points per game, which is also tops in the Pac-10. Kansas State leads the nation with a 49.9 points-allowed average. Cal has kept opponents scores below 40 points twice this season, the first in the opener when they only allowed Albany to score 39 points, and again when Washington only managed 34. The 34 points by Washington tied the fewest points ever allowed by a Cal team in a Pac-10 game, the other 34-point performance coming from Oregon last season in Eugene. The nine points that Washington scored in the first half was the fewest points scored in a half in the history of their program and the 34 was the fewest they have scored in a Pac-10 game. Last season, Cal set the Pac-10 record by allowing just 54.3 point per game.

The Bears are 14-0 when holding their opponents to 55 or fewer points. They have held their opponents to under 50 points in five of the last six games. The Bears held Stanford to just 54 points, 25 points fewer than their season average going into the game and half the number of points the Cardinal had scored in their two previous games.

The Bears are holding opponents to a 27.5 three-point efficiency (83-of-302), the best in the Pac-10. Conference opponents, however, have only made 18 of their 92 three-point attempts against Cal, or 19.6 percent.

REBOUNDING LEADER Ashley Walker might paces the team by averaging 8.1 rebounds per game, but junior guard Lauren Greif has been the one most consistently crashing the boards recently. Greif is averaging a team-leading 8.2 rebounds per game against Pac-10 opponents. Greif is third in the conference in rebounding in Pac-10 games and Walker is fourth.

37 POINTS Alexis Gray-Lawson's 37-points against Stanford was the second-highest single game scoring performance in the Pac-10 this season (behind OSU's Talisa Rhea's 42 points against Sacramento State). Gray-Lawson is just the eighth player in all of NCAA Division I this season to score 37 or more points in a game. It was the first time since 1987 that a Cal player had 35 or more points and was the eighth-highest single game point total in Cal history. Gray-Lawson is only the third Cal player to score more than 35 points in a game. Jennifer Bennett accomplished the feat six times. It was the second time in Gray-Lawson's career she topped 30 points, the other coming in the 2006 January match-up against Stanford. It was the fourth time this season a Cal player scored 30 or more points in a game with Ashley Walker hitting that benchmark three times.

DEV Senior forward Devanei Hampton had her third double-digit scoring effort of the season when she netted 10 against Washington. Since returning to the starting lineup, Hampton is averaging 8.0 points per game and 7.0 rebounds. She is still looking for her first double-double of the season. She flirted with the feat in the Arizona game when she had nine points and nine rebounds.

DEV AS A STARTER The Bears are 6-0 since Hampton has returned to the starting lineup.

MORE NOTES ON WALKER

**Walker had just her third game this season when she has not scored in double digits when she scored five points against Stanford

**Walker has hit 10 or more field goals in a game four times this season.

**Walker has shot 50.0 percent or better in all but three games this season. She has a career-best 57.8 field-goal percentage this season, second-best in the Pac-10.

**Walker has 29 career games scoring 20 or more points. This season, she has topped 20 points ten times and has done so three times already in Pac-10 play.

**Walker has hit 12-of-14 free-throw attempts in Pac-10 games this season (.917).

**Walker was a nominee for WBCA Player of the Month in December, a month in which she averaged 22.6 points per game, shooting 61.4 percent from the floor.

**Walker has started every game since her freshman year and has scored in every game since her freshman year. The closest she ever came to being shut put was in the Pac-10 finals last season against Stanford when she scored her first, and only, basket with 6:20 remaining in the game.

CAL'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST: NO. 2 Ashley Walker Ashley Walker moved past Jennifer Bennett (1984-87, 1,766 points) and into second place on the all-time scoring list in the Washington State game. Walker's spin move on a basket coming with precisely 15 minutes remaining in the game. Walker entered the season with 1,470 career points, 30 points shy of becoming just the seventh player in Cal history to score 1,500 points. She scored her 1500th career point in the first half of the Nevada game. Walker entered the season ranked seventh on the Cal all-time scoring leaders list.

PAC-10 ALL-TIME SCORING: WALKER No. 20 Ashley Walker's name will also be written into the Pac-10 history books. Walker moved into the top-20 in career scoring in the Pac-10 in the Stanford game. Walker's 1799 points ranks her 20th. She needs two points to pass Washington's Rhonda Smith (1992-95, 1801), four to pass OSU's Felicia Ragland (1999-02, 1803), and 15 to pass UCLA's Natalie Williams (1991-94, 1813), which would put her at No. 17 on the career list. Walker became the 39th player to score 1,500 points as a member of the Pac-10.

PAC-10 ALL-TIME REBOUNDERS: NO. 10 Ashley Walker Walker passed another milestone in the Washington State game. Not only did her 10 rebounds give her career double-double No. 38, it also moved her into the top-10 in the Pac-10's history in rebounding. Walker's 937 career rebounds inched her past Maylana Martin of UCLA (1997-00, 935) to rank tenth in career rebounds for Pac-10 women's basketball players. Walker entered the season ranked No. 21. There have been eight players in Pac-10 history to reach the 1,000 rebound mark. There has only been one player in Cal history, Colleen Galloway (1978-81, 1029), to have over 1,000 rebounds. Walker has 954 rebounds. She need 46 rebounds to reach the 1,000 mark and 76 to pass Galloway as Cal's all-time leading rebounder.

COUNTDOWN TO 2,000 Ashley Walker is one point shy of 1,800 career points. She needs 201 points to become the second player in the history of Cal and the 11th player in Pac-10 history to score 2,000 career points. Walker is averaging over 20 points a game. There are 13 regular season games remaining in addition to any Pac-10 and further post-season, giving Walker a legitimate shot at the milestone.

CAREER ASSISTS Natasha Vital moved into the top-10 in career assists with her four dishes against SJSU, passing Sherrise Smith (1996-99, 292) to officially enter the Bear record book. Vital tallied career assist No. 300 against Saint Mary's on a feed to Devanei Hampton in the paint with four minutes left in the first half. Vital moved up to ninth in the Washington game. She is 22 assists shy of eighth place in the record book.

GRAY-LAWSON'S 1000 POINT MEMBERSHIP Alexis Gray-Lawson became the 20th member of Cal's 1,000 point club on Nov. 29 in the third game of the Paradise Jam Tournament against Iowa, with 1:26 left in the first half on a runner through the lane. Gray-Lawson needs 90 points to move into the top-10 on the career-scoring list.

COUNTDOWN TO 1,500 Devanei Hampton comes into the game with 1,385 career points, which is 115 points shy of joining Walker at 1500 career points. Hampton just moved past Kesha Martin (1989-93, 1,368 points) and moving into eighth place on the career scoring list.

THIS WEEK'S Pac-10 OPPONENTS

SCOUTING OREGON STATE (11-5, 2-4 Pac-10)

Opening the season with its best start since the 1995-96 campaign (9-1 in non conference games). They ran into some road blocks since the Pac-10 slate began but picked up its first league win of the season against Arizona. Sophomore guard Talisa Rhea went 5-for-10 from behind the three-point line, scoring 21 points to lead the team in the win.

Oregon State is ranked 19th in the country in scoring defense, holding its opponents to less than 50 points six times, including the win at Arizona. As a team, OSU is also 29th in the country in scoring margin (+13.6) and leads the Pac-10 in free throw percentage (73.6 percent). The Beavers have already won seven home games this year, tying the mark from all of last season. OSU received votes in the Associated Press poll for two-straight weeks earlier this season.

Last week, Brittney Davis finished with a career-best five three-pointers to total a season-best 25 points as the Oregon State women's basketball team defeated Washington, 69-55, last Saturday. The senior was 8-for-12 from the field, highlighted by the five three-pointers. Davis was also 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Earlier in the week, the Beavers fell 65-52 at Washington State. Talisa Rhea finished with 19 points. Oregon State leads the all-time series, 28-27, but Cal leads, 23-21 since the two teams joined the Pac-10. Cal has won the last four meetings between the two, including a 56-45 victory last season in Corvallis. Ashley Walker and Natasha Vital each scored 17 points in the game.

SCOUTING OREGON (7-9, 4-2 Pac-10) Oregon swept the Washington schools in Washington last week, the first time they accomplished that in nine years. The Ducks have won four of their last five games. Their 4-2 Pac-10 mark is their best start since 2004-05 when victories over Cal, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington had given them an identical 4-2 record.

Oregon has utilized seven different starting lineups this season. Six different players have missed at least one game this season due to injury; Nia Jackson (14), Kollo (14), Lilley (6), Canepa (5), Manou (2), Darriel Gaynor (1). In conference games, Oregon is shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and averaging 13.2 assists per game, compared to their 36.3 shooting percentage and 10.3 assists per gam43.4 percent but in Pac-10 action, they are holding opponents to a clip of 39.0 percent. The Ducks are 5-1 when three or more players score in double figures.

Oregon leads the all-time series 36-19 and 30-17 in Pac-10 play. Cal has won the last four straight meetings. The last time they faced was the first game of the Pac-10 tournament for the Bears, with Cal earning a 67-60 victory. Alexis Gray-Lawson, Devanei Hampton, Natsha Vital, and Ashley Walker each scored 14 or more points in the victory. Rama N'Daiye was the only other Bear to score in the game.


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