Nov. 23, 2007
FORT WORTH, Texas - No. 12 California continued its tough non-conference schedule with a 74-55 victory over TCU Friday night at Daniel Meyer Coliseum. The Golden Bears improved to 4-0 after playing their third straight opponent that qualified for the 2007 NCAA Tournament, while the Lady Frogs dropped to 2-3.
"There wasn't a lot of energy in the building early on, so we had to create it," Cal head coach Joanne Boyle said. "We got stops early and got a lot of really good transition buckets. That jumpstarted us. Rama did an unbelievable job."
Junior forward/center Ashley Walker paced Cal with 19 points, six boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 26 minutes of action. Walker now has 100 career blocks, which ranks fifth in school history. Cal sophomore forward/center Rama N'diaye equaled her career high of 14 points and hauled in a career-high 17 rebounds for her second double-double of the season, and sophomore guard Lauren Greif added a season-high 16 points.
TCU, which has advanced to seven straight NCAA Tournaments, led 10-7 with 13:49 to play in the first half before Cal erupted for a 20-0 run to go ahead 27-10 with 5:51 left until halftime. Walker scored 11 points, including the first nine to begin the run, and Greif added five points during the game-changing stretch.
"We always talk about maintaining a level of intensity because a team can go on a 10-0 run in a minute," Boyle said. "We have to learn and grow as a team to not win by 10 if you can win by 20. We have to push it until we can't push anymore. I felt really good about that, and we got some kids who don't play a lot some good game minutes in the last seven minutes."
Lori Butler-Rayford ended a nine-minute, 30 seconds scoreless stretch for TCU by hitting a three-pointer with 4:19 on the clock. She followed that up with her second three to cut the Bears' lead to 27-16. N'diaye answered with a rebound and putback and a layup to help Cal reclaim a 17-point lead at 33-16.
"Defense is a big deal to us," Walker said. "We focus on that. That's our identity. That's who we are. That's what we want people to know us by. We're going to get out in the passing lanes, play hard defense and then box out after teams take tough shots. That's what we do every night."
The Bears, who shot 51.9 percent in the first half and held the Lady Frogs to a 25.0 percent clip, led 35-20 at halftime.
Greif scored Cal's first nine points of the second half, including two of her three three-pointers in the game, to propel the Bears to their biggest lead at that point at 44-25 with 16:55 remaining in the contest.
Adrianne Ross, last year's Co-Mountain West Player of the Year, answered with her second trey and a transition layup to ignite a 7-0 Frogs' run that cut the Bears' margin to 44-32 a minute later.
Cal responded with a 17-4 spurt, keyed by six points by redshirt sophomore guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, to secure a 61-36 edge with 11:23 on the clock. Junior forward Shantrell Sneed corralled a teammate's missed shot and scored on a runner in the lane to give the Bears' their largest lead of the game at 67-40 with under five minutes to go.
The Bears bench helped sustain their momentum down the stretch, as TCU couldn't get any closer than 19 points the rest of the game. Freshman reserve guard/forward Kelsey Adrian corralled a career-high eight rebounds and tallied four points and three assists for Cal.
Ross, who came off the bench today, led the Lady Frogs with 14 points, including her team's first 10 points after halftime.
Cal, which has held its last three opponents to fewer than 60 points, kept the Lady Frogs to a 30.1 field goal percentage for the game. The Bears shot 49.1 percent from the floor and capitalized on a 48-32 rebounding advantage.
"We've gotten our players to buy into that we have to be a great defensive rebounding team in particular," Boyle said. "If we can get stops, we can run in transition. We're a good transition team. We have to play great defense and rebound to be able to have a chance until Devanei (Hampton) is back (from a knee injury)."
Cal continues its Thanksgiving trip at No. 12/13 Baylor (4-0, USA Today-ESPN Coaches' Poll/AP) Sunday, Nov. 25, at 2 p.m. CT (noon PT). The game can be seen live on Fox Sports Net in many markets, including the Bay Area.