Dec. 26, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After splitting its opening week of Pac-10 play on the road, No. 18/19 California (9-2, 1-1 Pac-10, T4th) returns home to host No. 10/11 Arizona State (11-1, 1-0, 3rd) Thursday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m., and Arizona (6-7, 0-1, 8th) Saturday, Dec. 30, at 2 p.m. Thursday is Spa Night at Haas Pavilion as fans will be eligible for an assortment of therapeutic giveaways and promotions.
Cal, which has equaled the best start in school history through 11 games and is ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press this week, rebounded to defeat USC, 62-53, Dec. 22 for the third straight time after falling in overtime at UCLA for the second consecutive year. The Bears look to win their Pac-10 home opener for the second straight season, as they opened 2005-06 with a 65-58 victory over UCLA in Berkeley.
The Golden Bears, who have only nine healthy players, rank third in the Pac-10 in scoring at 73.8 ppg and sixth in scoring defense at 60.2 ppg. Starting point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson tore her ACL and meniscus in her right knee against Kansas Dec. 10 and will miss the remainder of the season.
Cal relies on its post combination of sophomores Ashley Walker (6-1, F/C) and Devanei Hampton (6-3, F/C). Walker leads the Bears in scoring (19.5 ppg, 2nd Pac-10) and rebounding (8.6 rpg, 4th Pac-10) and has scored in double figures in every game this season. Hampton is second on the team in scoring (13.2 ppg) after tallying a career-high 27 points at UCLA.
Senior guard Keanna Levy and freshmen guards Lauren Greif and Natasha Vital round out the Bears' starting rotation. Levy, who averages 7.5 ppg and 4.1 rpg, has emerged as one of the Pac-10's most improved players after seeing limited action as a reserve during her first three years in Berkeley.
Greif is third on the team in scoring at 8.7 ppg and paces Cal in assists (31), steals (21) and three-pointers made (20). Vital has started the last two games following the injury to Lawson and has averaged 7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 2.5 apg during that span.
Freshman forward/center Rama N'diaye and junior forward Krista Foster are the first two players off of Cal's bench. N'diaye averages 5.5 ppg but is coming off a career-high 11-point outing in the USC win. Foster contributes 5.3 ppg and 1.5 rpg and shoots 63.6 percent from the floor.