California Falls to Arizona State, 63-61
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/30/2010

Jan. 30, 2010

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The California Golden Bears let a late lead slip away as the Arizona Sun Devils earned a 63-61 victory over the Bears at Haas Pavilion. Freshman forward Gennifer Brandon scored a career-high 18 points with nine rebounds and four blocks.

Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, arguably the hottest shooting guard in the NCAA over the course of the last two weeks, started the game scoring Cal's first five points, beginning a half that saw the two teams change leads eight times and tie the score six. Gray-Lawson would score just two more points in the half, turning center stage over to freshman forward Gennifer Brandon. Brandon, playing against her sister (ASU sophomore guard Kimberly Brandon) for the first time in her career, tallied nine first half points, pulled in four rebounds, and smacked a commanding block on a shot by her sister, playing all twenty minutes of the period.

"It was pretty fun (playing against my sister)", said Brandon. "I didn't really want to block her shot, but I had to because it was from her team. She is not on my team."

The Sun Devils looked like they would be poised to finish the first half of the Pac-10 season with an easy victory, going up by seven, 19-12, 11 minutes into the game. A quick bucket by Gray-Lawson followed by four straight points by freshman center Brenna Heater pulled the Bears within a point, 19-18. A layup by freshman guard Eliza Pierre put the Bears back in the lead by a point, 21-20. The two teams went into the locker room knotted 27-27.

The game turned in the second half when an inspired Cal team came back out on the court, scoring six quick points in the first minute and a half to take a 33-27 lead. Cal built on the six, extending it out to a 10-2 run, including a pair of perfectly executed high-low feeds to freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth to go up 37-29 with 17 minutes remaining. The Bears opened the half making 9 of their first 12 field goal attempts. Cal built the lead up to ten, a margin they maintained for a good portion of the second half.

Arizona State began their comeback bid with about four minutes left in the game. The Sun Devils twice pulled within four of the Bears. With 2:38 remaining and the score, 61-57 favoring the Bears, ASU got the rebound on a missed Cal jumper. The Sun Devils Kimberly Brandon drew a foul on an offensive putback. She converted both freethrows to make it a two-point game, 61-59. Cal missed a layup in the ensuing possession, give ASU the ball with 1:13 remaining. After Cal committed another foul, ASU hit both on a one and one freethrow opportunity to tie the game, 61-61. Cal turned the ball over with 53.5 remaining. ASU, looking for their first lead of the second half, turned the ball back over to Cal with 41 seconds left on the clock. After Cal missed a three, ASU came up with the rebound. The Sun Devils Kali Bennett took a shot with six seconds left on the clock. Cal seemed to get the rebound, but Bennett jumped in and tied up the ball, with possession reverting back to ASU.

ASU inbounded the ball, getting it to the hands of their leading scorer, Danielle Orsillo, who tossed the ball up and scored the game-winning basket with less than a second remaining. Cal inbounded the ball, but could not get off a miracle shot, falling to Arizona State 63-61.

"I think it was a hard fought game,"said head coach Joanne Boyle. "A lot of credit goes to Arizona State. They just stayed with us the whole game. They just kept pushing and making their run. They weren't going to lay down and die. Danielle Orsillo, who is a big time player, hit a shot at the buzzer. We end up at the other side of the column."

The Sun Devils scored 14 points in the final four minutes of the game to Cal's two. They had six rebounds while Cal did not end up with a single board in that span.

With the loss, Cal finishes the first half of Pac-10 play with a 5-4 record, matching Arizona State.Cal's overall record falls to 11-9 while ASU improves to 13-7. Gennifer Brandon ended the game with a career-high 18 points and a career-high 4 blocks. She missed only two field goal attempts, going 7-for-9 from the field. She also pulled in nine rebounds with a steal and an assist.

"I thought Gen did a great job," said Boyle. "Huge rebounds for us. It is nice to see that consistency that she is starting to get a little comfortable out there."

Alexis Gray-Lawson finished the game with 14 points, two assists, two rebounds, a block and a steal. DeNesha Stallworth scored 10 points, all of them coming in the second half.

Cal is back at home next week, hosting USC on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at Haas. They close out their current homestand on Saturday, Feb. 6 when they host the UCLA Bruins at 2 p.m. Next Saturday will be another Cal Kids Day where all youth admissions are just $1. There will also be pregame activities for kids in the plaza outside Haas including poster making and face painting.