California Closes Homestand Against Illinois
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/19/2011

Nov. 19, 2011

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Sunday, Nov. 20: Illinois at California, 2:05 p.m.
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BERKELEY- The California Golden Bears (1-1) close out their homestand, hosting the Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2) on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.

The game is "Thanks for Being a Golden Bear" Day. Any fan who brings a canned food item to the game can purchase a $3 general admission. Fans can also register to win gift cards for turkey's throughout the game and there will be Turkey Bowling at halftime. There will also be a post-game Autograph session with the team.

Bear SAAC is encouraging season ticket holders who already have tickets to also bring canned food items as part of the Big Drive, the annual canned food drive with Stanford - colloquially known as the Big Drive - a competitive canned food drive between Stanford's and Cal's Athletic Departments. The Big Drive will take place all through November. All items will be donated to Alameda County Food Bank. Student-athletes will be collecting items inside the front doors on Sunday afternoon,

Cal has also been dominant in regular-season non-conference games in recent history. In the last six+ seasons, including Cal's 85-61 victory over Sacramento State on Thursday, Cal has gone 51-12 against non-conference teams in the regular season, with nine of those losses coming against teams ranked in the top-25. During that same stretch, the Cal has gone 32-5 at Haas against non-conference teams.

Cal owns a 2-1 record against the Illini, including a 65-61 victory last December in Champaign. Both of Cal's wins have come outside of Berkeley. The Bears fell, 77-69, in 1985 when they two teams met in California.

The Bears come into the game looking for their second straight win after earning a "W" in the home opener against Sacramento State, the ninth year in a row the Bears have won their first game of the season on the home court.

The Bears are showing a balanced attack so far this season with seven different players having double-digit scoring efforts in the first two games. Only one player, freshman forward Reshanda Gray, has had double-digit points in both games. The Bears also have two players with double doubles, redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds against Rutgers, and junior center Talia Caldwell, who tied a career high with 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds, against Sac State.

Three of Cal's four forwards are averaging double-digits through the two games. Gray leads the team at 13.0 points per game, followed by Caldwell (12.5) and her fellow freshman, Justine Hartman (10.0). The fourth forward, Brandon, is averaging double digits in rebounds (11.0).

Illinois is coming off a 77-74 loss at Oregon on Friday night. The Illini erased a 16-point second half deficit to fall just short of earning the victory. Sophomore Amber Moore was a major part of the second-half run for the Orange and Blue, as 16 of her 22 points came after halftime. She finished the night 6-of-13 from three-point range after making only two three-pointers in the first half. Junior Karisma Penn added 11 points and 10 rebounds, with 9 points coming in the second half, while senior Lydia McCully scored 10.

Depth The Golden Bears, who had just nine healthy bodies on the squad in 2010-11, are carrying an active roster of 12 players this season. All 12 players have seen time on the court already this season.

Bench Scoring In the exhibition win over Vanguard, the non-starters accounted for 64 of the Bears 99 points (64.6 percent). In the Rutgers game, the bench contributed 41 of the 70 points (58.5 percent). Even after changing the composition of the bench by changing out two players in the starting lineup, the bench still scored 43 points against Sacramento State (50.5 percent). Last year, the Cal bench, over the course of the season, was responsible for scoring 419 points, 19.6 percent of Cal's total offensive output.

Debuts Three Golden Bears made their collegiate debuts against Rutgers. Freshman forward Reshanda Gray was the first to debut, subbing in two minutes into the game. Freshman point guard Brittany Boyd subbed in one minute later. Four minutes into the game, Gray had a steal that led to a Boyd lay-up, the first stats for the players. In her first six minutes on the court, Gray had that steal, a block, and scored six points. In her shift on the court, Boyd scored four points with a steal and an assist. Freshman forward Justine Hartman checked in later in the first half, making her appearance in the final five minutes of the first period, but immediately made her presence known with back-to-back lay-ups. The three freshmen combined to score 27 points in the game.

The Bears other two freshmen guards, Avigiel Cohen (who redshirted last season) and Erika Johnson, made their debuts against Sacramento State. Johnson got a steal in her first moments on the court. She also hit a free throw to score her first collegiate points. Cohen did not score in the game, but had two rebounds and an assist.

Starting Lineup Debuts Two Golden Bears made their first career starts against Sacramento State. Sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe played in 35 games in her Cal career, all coming off the bench, before getting the start on Thursday. Freshman guard Brittany Boyd earned the start in the second game of her career.

Nearly Perfect Junior forward Talia Caldwell has only missed one field goal attempt this season, coming into the game going 12-for-13 from the field, shooting 92.3 percent. She was perfect from the field against Rutgers, starting the season converting her first four field goal attempts. This was the sixth time in Caldwell's career she has been perfect from the field. Caldwell's best single-game performance was a 6-for-6 shooting game against San Jose State in her freshman year. Caldwell, as a freshman, had the second-best season in Cal program history when it comes to shooting percentage. She made 61.5 percent of her shots in her rookie campaign.

Welcome Back Redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon showed no signs of rust when she took the court against Rutgers. Brandon sat out the entire 2010-11 season, trying to recover from a stress fracture in her shin. Her last appearance on the court was in the Bears WNIT victory over Miami. Brandon played 30 minutes against Rutgers, scoring 12 points with 15 rebounds, the sixth double double of her career. She had another seven rebounds against Sac State and a pair of blocked shots.

Steals Junior guard Eliza Pierre had four steals against Sac State. Pierre, who had the fourth best season in program history for steals with 90 last year, has 165 career steals, just 13 shy of moving into the top-10 in career steals in the Cal record book.