March 22, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. -- Junior posts Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton combined for 43 points to lead third-seeded California to a 77-60 victory over 14th-seeded San Diego Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Maples Pavilion. The Golden Bears, who won their second NCAA Tournament game and first since 1993, improved to 27-6 overall, and the Toreros ended their season at 19-13.
Walker posted 21 points and 12 rebounds for her Pac-10-leading 14th double-double of the season and 34th of her career. The Modesto, Calif., product is the only player in school history to record two double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament. Hampton led Cal with 22 points, her best effort in three NCAA games in her career.
Cal, which owns a school-record 27 wins, jumped out to a 14-2 lead with 15:43 to play in the first half behind six points from Walker and four from Hampton. No. 10/8 Cal (AP/coaches polls) made its first four shots and nine of its first 10 attempts, with Walker making multiple successful drives along the baseline.
San Diego - the WCC Tournament champion - did its best to stick with the Bears for awhile, assembling a 12-4 run to close to within 18-14 with 12:07 left until halftime. The spurt was capped by a three-pointer by Sam Child, who led her team with 14 points.
Hampton posted five of her 11 first-half points and sophomore guard Natasha Vital sank a three-pointer to lead a 10-4 Cal run that pushed the Bears lead back to 28-18. Vital registered seven points and tied the school record for assists in an NCAA Tournament game with eight.
Forward Kia Herman hit a jumper and center Amber Sprague, who entered the game as San Diego's leading scorer at 15.5 ppg and rebounder at 8.8 rpg, converted a layup to bring the Toreros to within 28-22 at 6:01. Sprague finished the game with only six points and five rebounds in 21 minutes and fouled out with 4:47 left on the clock. Herman tallied 11 points.
Sprague and the rest of the San Diego post players had a tough time guarding Cal's post players. In addition to Hampton's and Walker's exploits, sophomore center Rama N'diaye and senior forward Krista Foster contributed four points each off the bench.
Walker tallied five straight points to ignite a 14-0 Cal run that extended the Bears' advantage to 42-22 and put the them in control of the game for good. Freshman reserve guard/forward Kelsey Adrian put an exclamation point on the spurt with a three-pointer with 1:29 to go in the half.
Morgan Henderson, who tallied 13 points in the game, scored the final five points of the half for San Diego to send the Toreros into the locker room down, 42-27.
Sophomore guard Lauren Greif sank a three-pointer to open the second half for Cal to stretch the Bears' lead to 18. Cal's advantage fluctuated between 18 and 20 points until the Bears grabbed their biggest lead of the game at 65-43 with 8:14 to go on a layup by Walker.
Cal's bench performed well over the final eight minutes, as Walker left the contest for good at the eight-minute mark and Hampton sat down with 6:02 to play.
The Bears held a 67-45 edge courtesy of a free-throw line jumper by Krista Foster with 7:41 on the clock.
Brianna Estell, who had 12 points off of the bench, led one final charge by San Diego, scoring five consecutive points to start a 12-4 spurt that cut the Bears' margin to 71-57.
Junior reserve forward Shantrell Sneed made a layup and Foster added two free throws to shift the momentum back to Cal. Adrian concluded a 6-0 Cal run with a layup, and Henderson hit her second trey of the game with three seconds to play to account for the 77-60 score.
The 77 points were the most Cal has scored in an NCAA Tournament game since an 87-84 setback against Long Beach State in the Bears' first NCAA game in 1990. Cal's bench was solid this afternoon, contributing 17 points and nine rebounds.
Cal shot 48.4 percent from the field and held a 36-31 rebounding advantage. The Bears also took good care of the ball, committing only 14 turnovers while forcing 24. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson tied her season high of four steals, helping the Bears set a school NCAA Tournament record of 17 steals.
Cal next faces sixth-seeded George Washington Monday, March 24, at 5 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion. The Colonials (26-6) defeated 11th-seeded Auburn, 66-56, in their opening-round game this morning. This will be the first meeting between Cal and GW.