Feb. 16, 2006
TUCSON, Ariz. - California posted its first victory at McKale Center since 1993 with a 73-56 win over Arizona Thursday night. The Golden Bears improved to 16-9 overall (8-7 Pac-10), while the Wildcats dropped to 7-19 (3-13).
The Bears' last triumph at the Wildcats' home was 81-74 March 4, 1993. Today's win guarantees Cal its first winning season since 1992-93, including factoring in conference and national postseason tournament possibilities.
"This was a good game for us," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle. "We had been playing up and down. This is our last road trip. We came into tonight's game with 15 wins. We knew the importance of our final four games. Now, we have three. Every win is important to us going down the stretch. The kids have really bought into taking one game at a time. The best thing we've done for the last few games is play great defense. We've worked on our zone offense for three days. That's something we've been struggling with. We did probably our best job of the year against the zone today."
Cal received a balanced scoring effort, including 25 points from its bench. Senior forward Renee Wright, sophomore forward Krista Foster and freshman center Devanei Hampton each posted 13 points, and freshman guard Alexis Gray-Lawson added 12 points. Foster matched her career highs for points and rebounds (7).
A 5-0 burst, capped by a three-pointer from Gray-Lawson, gave Cal a 10-6 lead with 14:28 to play in the first half. Arizona's Natalie Jones tied the game at 12-12, but Cal responded with a 9-0 run to go ahead 21-12 with under nine minutes remaining in the half. Foster, a reserve, contributed five of her 10 first-half points, and redshirt junior guard Sarah Pool grabbed a steals and dished off two assists off the bench during the run.
Arizona closed to within 22-17 on a three-pointer by Joy Hollingsworth, but Cal tallied a 13-2 run over the final 6:06 to enter the locker room up 35-19. Cal's final points of the half came from Gray-Lawson's second three-pointer and a trey from Wright.
"The kids came in very ready and prepared, and what that allowed us to do was get a lead and then kids that don't play as much got to play," said Boyle. "Everybody came in and contributed. Just to get those other kids some touches and some playing time and having team wins with everyone actually playing is a big thing for us."
Hampton scored five of Cal's first nine points of the second half to extend her team's lead to 44-23. Arizona struggled to contain Cal's posts, as the Wildcats often had four guards on the court due to injuries and foul trouble.
Two free throws from Wright and a short jumper from Gray-Lawson gave Cal its biggest lead at that point at 53-27 with 11:39 left in the contest. Freshman forward Shantrell Sneed, who recorded a career-high nine points and grabbed three rebounds, gave the Bears a 27-point edge (58-31) with a three-point play about two minutes later.
The Wildcats closed the game on a 25-15 run to get as close as 17 points, with the Bears playing mostly their reserves. Pool notched three points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Hollingsworth and Ashley Whisonant paced Arizona with 13 points each. Natalie Jones and Jessica Arnold each notched 12 points.
Cal shot 51.0 percent from the floor and 68.0 percent from the foul line to avenge an 80-76 loss to Arizona in Berkeley Jan. 22. The Bears limited the Wildcats to 31.8 percent shooting. Wright grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to propel Cal to a 40-35 edge in that department.
Cal looks to secure its first Pac-10 road sweep of the season at No. 15 Arizona State (21-5, 12-4) Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. MT on Fox Sports Net. The Sun Devils are in second place in the conference.