Jan. 24, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
California (13-6, 5-4, T4th) begins the second-half of the Pac-10 schedule on the road at No. 23 USC (13-5, 7-2, 2nd) Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Lyon Center and at UCLA (10-8, 5-4, T4th) Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion. Cal swept the games with UCLA and USC in Berkeley but has never posted four wins over the L.A. schools in the same season.
At 13-6, the Golden Bears are off to their best start since posting a 14-5 record through 19 games in 1992-93. That season, Cal advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for its last postseason appearance in school history. Last year, the Bears entered the second half of conference play with an 8-10 overall record and a 2-7 conference mark.
Cal capped the first round of Pac-10 games with a 66-64 upset of No. 13 Arizona State and an 80-76 setback against Arizona. Poor free throw shooting cost the Bears the game against the Wildcats (34.5%, 10-29). Despite the loss, Cal is receiving five votes in the AP poll this week, the most the Bears have garnered this season.
The Bears' seventh-rated recruiting class, which is comprised of five local players, has lived up to its billing this season. Four freshmen start and are the top four scorers on the team. Center Devanei Hampton (Oakland) leads Cal in scoring at 15.9 ppg (seventh Pac-10, No. 1 freshman) and looks to become the first freshman to pace the Bears in that scoring since Cynthia Cooke (13.5 ppg, 1981-82).
Guard Alexis Gray-Lawson (Oakland) is second on this year's squad in scoring at 14.7 ppg (ninth Pac-10). Forward/center Ashley Walker (Modesto) is third at 12.9 ppg and has posted six straight double-doubles. Guard Jené Morris (San Francisco) is fourth at 8.1 ppg. Senior forward Reneé Wright (Antelope) completes the starting five at 7.2 ppg.
Sophomore forward Krista Foster provided a spark off the bench against Arizona, contributing seven points and four rebounds in 10 minutes of action.
Despite giving up at least 80 points in two of its last three games, the Bears remain second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense at 58.6 ppg. Walker leads the league in blocked shots per game at 1.74. Morris is third in the Pac-10 in steals per game at 2.76.
Meanwhile, the Bears' offense has climbed to 65.6 (eighth Pac-10) after they've posted at least 65 points in six of the last seven games.