Feb. 26, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Looking to win its first Pac-10 women's basketball title in school history, No. 9/9 California (23-4, 14-2 Pac-10, T1st) travels to Washington State (5-22, 2-14, 10th) Friday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m. and wraps up the regular season at Washington (12-16, 7-9, 6th) Sunday, March 2, at 2 p.m.
Cal looks to rebound from a heart-breaking 60-58 loss to No. 7 Stanford Feb. 23, which left the Bears in a tie for first place in the Pac-10 with the Cardinal with two games to play. Stanford has won the last seven Pac-10 regular-season crowns. Saturday's loss happened in front of a Pac-10 women's basketball record crowd of 10,525 fans at Haas Pavilion.
Despite the loss, Cal continues to be in the midst of its best season in school history. The Bears are off to their best start through 27 games and are only one win away from tying the 1983-84 Bears (24-8) for the most wins in school history. The 14 Pac-10 wins have already surpassed the program's previous best of 12 (1991-92 and 2006-07), and Cal is ranked in the top 10 in the national polls for the first season in school history this year.
Defense and rebounding have ignited Cal's success in 2007-08. The Bears lead the Pac-10 and are ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense (53.0 ppg), putting them on pace to break Arizona State's Pac-10 record for scoring defense (54.7 ppg, 2004-05). The Bears are also fifth in the nation and first in the league in field goal percentage defense (34.0%). Additionally, Cal is seventh nationally in rebounding margin (+8.5) and is 21-1 when outrebounding opponents this season.
Junior forward/center Ashley Walker has put herself in contention for the Pac-10 Player of the Year award. A finalist for the State Farm Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, Walker is second in the Pac-10 in scoring (16.0 ppg), first in rebounding (9.6 rpg) and second in blocks (1.5 bpg). Junior forward/center Devanei Hampton is second on the team in both scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), but hasn't played in 75 percent of Cal's games to be ranked in the Pac-10. Hampton has recorded double-doubles in Cal's last four games, including 19 points and 10 boards against Stanford. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson (11.7 ppg) also contributes double-digit points and is second in the conference in three-point percentage (40.4%).
Sophomore guard Natasha Vital has posted double-figure points in four of the last seven games and is fifth in the Pac-10 in assists at 3.96 apg. Sophomore guard Lauren Greif rounds out the Bears' starting unit. She finds a way to make a difference, hauling in eight boards vs. Stanford.