Jan. 28, 2010
The California Golden Bears (11-8, 5-3 Pac-10) won their fifth game in a row Thursday night when they earned a 73-53 victory over the Arizona Wildcats (9-9, 3-5 Pac-10). Alexis Gray-Lawson, the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week, led the Bears with 39 points.
Cal got off to a slow start, falling behind the Wildcats 21-13 in the first half. Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson ignited the offense, draining a three-pointer and a jumper in the lane on back-to-back possessions to make it a three point game. Cal tied the game, 24-24, on a made three-pointer by junior guard Rachelle Federico with 6:31 left in the half. After Arizona tied the game back up at 26-26, Gray-Lawson made one of her seven first-half field goals to put Cal up 28-26. The Bears would not trail again in the game and took a 36-31 lead into the break.
Arizona made things interesting at the start of the second half. The opened the period on a 4-0 run, pulling within a point, 36-35, with 18:20 remaining. Cal went on a 15-3 run, with Alexis Gray-Lawson scoring twelve straight points, to give themselves a cushion. Arizona never again threatened as Cal cruised to their fifth Pac-10 victory of the season.
Alexis Gray-Lawson, the reigning Pac-10 player of the week, scored 39 points, the second consecutive game she scored more than 30 points in regulation. Gray-Lawson scored 47 points last Saturday at Oregon State, 33 of those coming in regulation, the other 14 she scored over the course of two overtimes. The 39 points was the fifth highest single-game total in Cal history and the most points Gray-Lawson scored in a non-overtime game. This was the fourth time in Gray-Lawson's career she has scored 30 or more points in a game. Gray-Lawson hit 15 field goals, making 50 percent of her shots.
"There has been this shift, you just see it in her," said head coach Joanne Boyle about Gray-Lawson's recent performances. "You know how you see athletes, and you can just see the confidence in games. I think, too, that she has been practicing that way. It is carrying over to games now. You get a couple of practices like that and it is easier to shift it over into games."
Freshman forward Gennifer Brandon, returning to the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 22, had her second consecutive game pulling in double-digit rebounds. She led both teams with 15.
"Gen has been a monster on the boards for us," said Boyle. "When she plays hard, and she is fresh, she can defend. Her biggest strength is she can just jump, jump right out of the gym. Her job is to be on the boards all night long. She gets that."
The 39 points was the second-highest single-game total by a player on the floor of Haas Pavilion. Stanford's Jayne Appel set the record last season with her 46-point performance in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight game. 39 points is the most ever scored by a Cal player at Haas. Gray-Lawson's 15 field goals is also the most by a Cal player at Haas Arena. Appel also owns the overall mark with 19 in the tournament game. Gray-Lawson did set a new high mark with 30 attempts, eclipsing the 28 attempted by Appel. Gray-Lawson's five three-point baskets is also the most by a Cal player in a game at Haas. Several opposing players have made six treys on the Haas floor.
Over the course of the last two games, Gray-Lawson has scored 86 points, the largest two-game total for a Cal player in program history. She has made 28 field goals (nine of those from three-point range) and 21 freethrows combined in the last five days.
"I actually didn't know (I was hot tonight)," said Gray-Lawson. "Honestly. When the game first started, I was just trying to stay aggressive. I wasn't feeling too well (having been suffering from a mild head cold the last three days). So I was trying to stay aggressive to be more focused than usual. It just sort of happened that way."
The Bears are back in action on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion, hosting the Arizona State Sun Devils. The game will be broadcast nationally on FSN and locally on CSN Bay Area. It is also a Cal Kids Day where all youth tickets are just $1. There will be special pre-game activities on the plaza for youth including poster painting and inflatables. A post-game player autograph session will take place on the court. Game time is 2:30 p.m.