March 21, 2010
The California Golden Bears (19-13, 11-7 Pac-10) with host the Utah Utes (23-11, 13-5 MWC) in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Haas Pavilion on Tuesday, March 23. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m. Live streaming audio and video of the game will be available on CalBears.com.
Tickets for the game are on sale now over the phone, online or at the Athletic Ticket Office window. All seats will be general admission and the prices are: Adults - $12; Youth/Senior/Student - $7; Group (10+) - $3.
Utah used a late 15-0 run on Sunday to defeat Saint Mary's, 66-53, Sunday in Moraga to advance to the second round match-up against Cal.
Cal advanced to the second round after surviving an overtime game against the three-point gunning UC Davis Aggies. The Aggies scored over half of their points on three-point baskets, with 12 made-threes. The Bears, on the other hand, lived in the paint, scoring nearly half of their points (45.9 percent) and over 62 percent of their field goals (17 of 27) in the lane.
Cal had a dominant rebounding game, pulling in 49 rebounds to Davis' 28. Gennifer Brandon had 43 percent of Cal's rebounds, grabbing 21. Every single Cal player except Eliza Pierre had at least one offensive rebound and every player except Rachelle Federico had at least one defensive rebound.
Layshia Clarendon took over control of the offense. Clarendon shot 55.6 percent from the floor, scoring a career-high 29 points. She scored ten of Cal's 14 points in the overtime period. She hit 10 field goals (another career high) and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the freethrow line. Clarendon has been perfect from the charity stripe her last two games and enters Tuesday's contest having made her last nine consecutive freethrows.
Senior guard Lauren Greif has scored 17 points in her last two games. Greif scored 7 points in 15 minutes of playing time against Stanford. She put up 10 points in season-high 38 minutes of court time against UC Davis.
The victory over Davis has given the Bears a chance to log their fourth consecutive 20-win seasons, a program first. It would give head coach Joanne Boyle seven 20-win seasons in her eight years as a head coach. Her lone season finishing under 20 wins was her first year in Berkeley. She led the team to an NCAA Tournament berth, but only won 18 games that year.
Senior guard Natasha Vital is now just nine points shy of becoming the 21st player in Cal history to score 1,000 points in her career. She has 991 career points.
The winner of the Cal/Utah game will advance to play the winner of Oregon/ New Mexico in the third round. The date, time, and location for that game have yet to be determined.
INJURY UPDATE Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson suffered a strained neck when she fell to the court during the March 13th Pac-10 Tournament semifinal game against Stanford. Gray-Lawson was put on a backboard, as a precautionary measure, and taken to a local downtown Los Angeles hospital where she received a CT scans. She was later released after the tests were normal and flew back to Berkeley the next morning. After returning to Berkeley, she was examined by Cal team physicians and was diagnosed with a strained neck as was also found to have a mild concussion. Wednesday afternoon it was determined that she would not be medically cleared for the game against UC Davis. Her status for Tuesday's game has yet to be decided and she is officially listed as day-to-day.
REBOUNDING The Bears are outrebounding their opponents on average by 5.5 boards per game. This is the fifth-best rebounding margin of any team in the 64 teams playing in the WNIT. The Bears had a +21 rebounding margin in Wednesday's victory over UC Davis.
Freshman forward Gennifer Brandon became the seventh Cal player in program history to pull in 20 or more rebounds during a game. Her 21 rebounds set a Haas Pavilion record for most rebounds by an individual in a game on that court. Brandon led the Bears in both Pac-10 Tourney games, getting 19 total boards in the tournament. Brandon was ranked 19th among players competing in the WNIT in rebounding. Chelsea Cole of Pitt leads the field with 11.3 rebounds per game.
Brandon has been Cal's top rebounder each of the last three games. In that span, she has pulled in a total of 40 rebounds.
PAC-10 SCORING RACE Alexis Gray-Lawson is back to second in the battle for the Pac-10 Scoring Title. Gray-Lawson is averaging 17.5 points per game while Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike is at 18.3. Oregon's Taylor Lilley is now in third at 17.3 ppg. The scoring race will continue on through the post-season.
If Gray-Lawson should win the title, it will be the second consecutive year a Cal player has led the Conference in scoring. Ashley Walker ended the 2008-09 season with a Pac-10-best 18.9 points per game. Walker was the third Bear to win a Pac-10 scoring title. Jennifer Bennett, with a 23.7 points per game average, was the first ever Pac-10 scoring champ for women's basketball in 1986-87, the first season the Conference sponsored women's basketball. Trisha Stafford also led the league in scoring in 1991-92 with a 22.3 ppg average.
It would also be the second time in Gray-Lawson's career that she ended the year leading the Conference in a statistical category. She finished the 2007-08 season with a 40.0 three-point shooting percentage, tops in the Pac-10.
MORE POINTS ABOUT POINTS Alexis Gray-Lawson is 14th among all WNIT participants in points per game (17.5). Elena Delle Donne, who is second in the nation in scoring, leads the WNIT players with a 26.8 average.
DOUBLE DOUBLES Gennifer Brandon leads the team with six double-doubles, all of which have come in games in which she comes off the bench. Brandon was one board shy of a double double against Stanford in the Pac-10 Tournament Semifinal with 10 points and 9 rebounds. She had 19 points with 21 rebounds against UC Davis.
FRESH(MAN) LINEUP Cal has used eight different starting lineups this season. They have used four different mixes that feature four freshmen in the starting lineup and two different versions of the two seniors, three freshmen. Every single eligible Cal player but junior guard Rachelle Federico has started at least one game this season. The Bears have settled on a "usual" lineup, with Pierre, Clarendon, Gray-Lawson, Stallworth, and Caldwell getting the nod 12 times this season, including eight times before that pattern was altered by Gray-Lawson's injury.
SCORING MILESTONES Two Cal players are flirting with making it to significant scoring milestones. Senior guard Natasha Vital comes into the game with 991 career points, 9 points shy of becoming the 21st player in Cal history to score 1,000 career points.
Alexis Gray-Lawson has 1,882 points, 118 shy of 2,000, giving her an outside chance of becoming the third player in Cal history to cross the 2000 point mark. Gray-Lawson was the 9th player in Cal history to cross the 1500 point threshold.
SHOOTING EFFICIENCY Freshman forward Talia Caldwell is making 60.2 percent of her shots from the field. This is the second best single-season shooting percentage in Cal history. In a record that requires 50 attempts in a season, Sophie von Saldern went 78-for-125 from the field in the 1992-93 season to shoot 62.4 percent. Caldwell has made 74 of 123 attempts this season.
Caldwell does not have enough field goal attempts to qualify for the Pac-10 leaders. DeNesha Stallworth, who is shooting 48.7 percent this season (152-for-312) is the top Bear in the Conference in shooting percentage, ranking sixth.
CHARITABLE WORKS There is still time for fans to sign up for this season's We Assist, You Assist Promotion. Fans can pledge money per assist made by the team this season. The donations, which will be matched up to $10,000 by head coach Joanne Boyle, will benefit the UCSF Foundation and their research efforts on Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) Reseach. ARVD is a genetic disease in which the muscle tissue in the lower-right chamber of the heart (right ventricle) degenerates and is replaced by fat. As a result, patients can develop dangerous abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or even go into cardiac arrest, particularly when under physical or emotional stress. It is the disease that freshman guard Tierra Rogers was diagnosed with in September.
The Bears used part of the proceeds from their annual Shooting Shirts Auction to go to the UCSF Foundation. Coach Boyle and Tierra Rogers shirts raised $600 for the cause. Another $1500 was raised during the auction that went to benefit Berkeley Food and Housing.
ABOUT UTAH The Utah Utes (23-11, 13-5 MWC) upset top-seeded TCU in the Mountain West Conference tournament semifinal, only to fall to San Diego State in overtime in the Conference Tournament Championship game. They finished the regular season tied for third place in the MWC.
The Utes and Bears have face each other eight times, but not since Dec. 12, 1992 when the Bears earned a 74-59 victory in Salt Lake. Cal's last victory over Utah in Berkeley came on Nov. 25, 1989 when the Bears won 84-77 in the season-opener. The series is tied 4-4 with the Bears having one the last two meetings.
Two of the meetings between Cal and Utah occurred in the old WNIT. In Cal's first-ever post-season appearance, the 1979 WNIT, Cal fell 83-76 to Utah in the third round. In 1984, Cal earned a 73-64 victory in the second round over Utah. All of the "old" WNIT games were played in Amarillo, Texas.
A BREIF HISTORY OF THE WNIT The first post-season WNIT Tournament was held in 1969. It originally began as an eight-team tournament and also did not originally have today's single-elimination format. The old version of the tournament was held annually in Amarillo, Texas, from 1969 through 1996. Cal made four appearances in this version of the WNIT, going 0-3 in 1979 to finish eighth of the eight teams, 1-2 in 1981, finishing in fourth place, 2-1 in 1984, finishing fifth, and 2-1 in 1987 when they were the runners-up.
After the 1996 WNIT, the tournament was eliminated.
In 1998, after going one post-season without a WNIT, the tournament re-emerged with a couple of major changes. Instead of being played in Amarillo, the Tournament was now played at host sites of tournament participants. The tournament was also expanded. In 1998, it consisted of 16 teams. From 1999 to 2005, it was a 32-team tournament. In 2006, there were 40 school and 2007 was the first year with 48 participants. The 2010 tournament will be the first post-season WNIT to have a field of 64 schools.
This is California's first invitation to the WNIT since it's reemergence in 1998.
The field of the Tournament includes 31 automatic births and 33 at-large teams. California is an at-large bid. USC was the Pac-10As the top-finisher from the Pac-10 who did not receive an NCAA Tournament invitation, Cal earned an automatic berth in the Tournament.
First round seeding is determined by strength of teams with the top teams hosting the weaker teams in the opening round. Teams from the same Conference will not play in the first round and the tournament tries to avoid scheduling two teams who played during the regular season during the first round. A strong emphasis on location and playing geographically convenient teams is given in this tournament.
All of the tournament games will be played at participating school sites and only the Championship Game will be televised. Audio broadcasts of all of Cal's tournament games will be streamed on CalBears.com.