No. 13/9 California Wins Pac-10 Opener, Downing Arizona 56-46
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/02/2009

Jan. 2, 2009

Final Stats |  Quotes |  Photo Gallery

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Senior forward Ashley Walker scored 23 points to lead No. 13 California to a 56-46 victory over Arizona on Friday night.

The two-time All-American had 16 points in the second half, making eight of 11 shots after the break. She hit a 16-footer jumper with less than two minutes remaining to give California a 54-45 lead.

California (10-2, 1-0 Pac-10) also relied on freshman guard Casey Morris, who scored all 18 of her points in the first half.

Reiko Thomas led Arizona with 16 points, including a three-point play with 3:18 left to make it 52-45. Courtney Clements had 12 for Arizona (7-5, 0-1).

Walker, on the bench with two fouls for the final 7:23 of the first half, responded by coming out strong in the second half, making five straight shots, including a baseline jumper against Arizona's zone to spark an 8-1 run that led to a 47-36 lead. Walker scored ten of Cal's first 12 points of the second half.

California opened a first-half cushion, too, starting the game with a 12-2 run. Cal had four steals in the first four minutes, but the true spark of the half came from Morris, who made all five of her 3-pointers to help build a 29-23 lead.

Devanei Hampton, who made one of her first nine shots, scored on a follow to give the Bears an 11-point advantage, but Ify Ibekwe trimmed what was a 12-point lead to 33-30 on a fast-break layup with 18:31 remaining.

Morris got hot early, hitting her second 3 in the opening 9 minutes for a 15-6 edge.

Arizona, meanwhile, was struggling, making two of its initial 10 shots from the field while also turning the ball over five times. The heated up at the end of the second half, going on a 9-3 run to pull within six, 29-23, at the break.

"Arizona was really prepared," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle. "They are going to beat up on some people this year. They took us out of our game plan. They really crashed the boards. They made us work for everything we got down the stretch."

Cal has an off day Saturday, going up to Phoenix where they will take on Arizona State Sunday afternoon. Tip off is at 2 p.m. local time, 1 p.m. Pacific Time.