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Nov. 14, 2008
BERKELEY (AP) - Ashley Walker had 23 points, eight rebounds and four steals and No. 9 California extended its nonconference home winning streak to 30 games by beating Albany 63-39 on Friday in the season opener for both schools.
Walker scored eight of Cal's first 10 points. She already had a steal, rebound and an assist five minutes into the game for the short-handed Golden Bears, picked to finish second in the Pac-10 behind rival and second-ranked Stanford. She shot 9-for-15 before sitting down for good with 6:44 remaining.
Coach Joanne Boyle is concerned about her team's lack of depth - she had just nine players suited up for this one and only Walker scored in double digits.
The Bears are still without starting posts Devanei Hampton, the 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year, and 6-foot-5 Rama N'diaye. Hampton underwent surgery at the start of last season and then another procedure this past offseason to clean out her right knee. She isn't likely to play Sunday against Nevada, but could return in time for a showdown with fifth-ranked Rutgers next Friday.
N'diaye will be out until at least later this month as she recovers from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. N'diaye was hurt in the team's first-round NCAA victory over San Diego last spring.
The Bears focused on their conditioning this offseason and were able to push the tempo on the way to a 22-4 lead.
Lauren Greif added nine points, eight rebounds and three assists and Alexis Gray-Lawson dished out five assists for Cal. Gray-Lawson gave her team a scare when she grabbed her back in pain with 6:53 to go in the first half and left the game for a short time before returning.
Freshman guard Casey Morris, in her Bear debut, played a solid 23 minutes, scoring six points with four steals and a pair of assists. The 5-9 Morris also had a game-high two blocks. Senior forward Shantrell Sneed played a career-high 23 minutes, scoring six points with six rebounds.
Janea Aiken scored 14 points to lead the Great Danes, the New York school that's part of the America East Conference. Albany came out in tight man-to-man defense and made Cal work for its shots early. But the Great Danes hurt their cause with 12 first-half turnovers and 8-for-27 shooting to fall behind 30-19 at the break.
This was the sixth straight season-opening victory for the Bears.
It was a rare weekday afternoon game because Cal was hosting rival Stanford in a televised volleyball game Friday night. Several local elementary schools brought kids out for a field trip.
The Bears are back in action again on Sunday afternoon when they host the Nevada Wolfpack at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.