Dec. 10, 2007
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - No. 11 California gave No. 6 Rutgers a fierce battle before falling, 56-51, Monday night at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. The Golden Bears dropped to 8-2 after seeing their four-game winning streak snapped, while the Scarlet Knights improved to 7-2.
Junior forward/center Ashley Walker led Cal with 14 points and moved into 11th place on Cal's career scoring chart with 1140 points. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson and sophomore forward/center Rama N'diaye each contributed 12 points.
After trailing by 10 points at halftime, Cal opened the second half on a 14-5 run, keyed by five points each from Walker and sophomore guard Lauren Greif, to close to within 35-34 with 16:05 left in the game. Rutgers led 37-34 before Cal went ahead by one following a layup from Walker and two free throws from junior forward/center Devanei Hampton with 13:47 on the clock. Hampton, last year's Pac-10 Player of the Year, recorded six points and four rebounds in 19 minutes in her second game back since having knee surgery Nov. 9.
Kia Vaughn posted eight of her 13 points to help Rutgers briefly pull away from the Bears, 47-42, with 7:08 to go in the game. Gray-Lawson sank a three-pointer with the shot clock expiring to cut the deficit to 47-45 with 6:40 to go.
Essence Carson broke a three minute and nine second scoreless stretch by both teams with a jumper to push Rutgers' advantage to 49-45. Epiphanny Prince tallied the Scarlet Knights' next four points to help them grab a 53-46 lead with 1:01 left in the contest.
The Bears never gave up and trailed by only four points at 53-49 on Gray-Lawson's third trey of the game. Matee Ajavon, who tallied a game-high 15 points, hit two free throws to put the Scarlet Knights back up six at 55-49. N'diaye then made a layup off an assist from Gray-Lawson with 13 ticks to go. Gray-Lawson then stole the ball and appeared to possibly draw a foul on her missed three-pointer, but there was no call. Cal fouled Ajavon, who made 1-of-2 free throws, for the final score of the game.
Cal jumped out to an 8-3 lead with 14:31 left in the first half by mainly hitting jump shots. The Bears led 10-5 with Walker and N'diaye posting four points apiece.
Rutgers tied the game at 10-10 with a transition layup by Ajavon, but N'diaye answered on the other end with a layup to give the Bears a two-point edge with 9:28 remaining until halftime.
The Scarlet Knights then went on a 14-0 run, which included two three-pointers by Brittany Ray, who registered 11 points tonight, and two three-point plays by Ajavon, to go ahead 24-12. Gray-Lawson scored a three-pointer at the 5:41 mark to put an end to Rutgers' run.
Gray-Lawson scored six of Cal's final eight points of the half, and the Bears trailed 30-20 at the break.
Cal, which entered the game with a Pac-10 leading +11.7 rebounding margin, tied Rutgers tonight with 39 boards. Greif led Cal by tying her career high of 10 boards and also added five points, four assists and four steals in just under-40 minutes on the court. N'diaye hauled in nine boards.
Both teams shot below 40 percent from the floor, with Rutgers at 39.3 percent and Cal at 36.8 percent.
Cal entered the game ranked 11th by the Associated Press and 12th by the coaches, while Rutgers was sixth and third, respectively.
Due to final exams, Cal doesn't play its next game until Friday, Dec. 21, against Kansas at Haas Pavilion. Game time is at 6 p.m. for the Bears' final non-conference game. All youth 12th grade and under will be admitted free. The first 2000 fans will also receive the first of three sets of trading cards. The Cal Athletic Department will also be collecting coats for One Warm Coat. Fans who bring in a coat will receive one free admission to the game.