Jan. 3, 2009
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Sunday, Jan. 4, 1:00 p.m. PT: No. 13/9 Cal at Arizona State, Tempe, Ariz.
(Radio: KALX 90.7 fm, TV: none)
The California Golden Bears opened up Pac-10 play with a 56-46 victory at Arizona Friday night. In the first half, freshman guard Casey Morris carried the Bears, scoring 18 of the team's 29 first half points. Morris, who was coming off the first 20-point game of her career, went 5-for-5 from three point range in the first half, hitting six of her first seven shots. Morris only took three shots in the second half, however, the Bears didn't need Morris' magic in the second half. Senior forward Ashley Walker was 8-of-11 in the period, scoring 16 points. Walker scored ten of the Bears first 12 points in the second half. Junior guard Lauren Greif had a team-high 11 rebounds, her second 11-rebound performance of the season.
The Bears are now 21-18 overall in the opening weekend of Pac-10 play. They have opened their Pac-10 season facing the Arizona schools eight times with a 6-11 record in those games. The last time Cal opened Pac-10 play in the Grand Canyon State was the 2001-02 season when they were swept by the two teams. Cal also opened the 2002-03 season facing U of A and ASU in Berkeley with Cal falling to Arizona in the opener but defeating Arizona State in the second game of the weekend. Last season, the Bears opened up Pac-10 play with home victories over Washington and Washington State. Cal rattled off nine straight Pac-10 victories to start conference play last season, a streak that was snapped with their loss on January 26 at Stanford.
In this week's AP and USA Today/ ESPN the Magazine coaches polls, the only change in the top-25 was the fall of Arizona State out of the poll with New Mexico sliding in at No. 25. in both polls. Cal remained at No. 13. and No. 9. for the second straight week. Cal has been listed in the top ten in at least one of the two national polls in 19 of the last 20 rankings. After the loss to No. 5/6 Oklahoma, the Bears fell out of the top 10 in the Associated Press poll, tumbling to No. 12, but managed to stay in the top 10 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, coming in at No. 9. The Bears spent two weeks (weeks 2-3) with a program-best No. 3 ranking, but fell to No. 9/7 after being handed their first loss of the season Sunday, Dec. 7 by No. 22 TCU, 82-73.
Please note: the state of Arizona is in Mountain Time at this time of the year. Sunday's game tips at 2 p.m. local time, 1 p.m. Pacific Time.
20-point club Freshman guard Casey Morris scored a career-high 20 points against Saint Mary's in just her 11th game as a Cal Bear. Senior forwards Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton and junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson each had at least one 20-point game their freshman season (2005-06). Gray-Lawson was the first to hit the milestone, doing it in her sixth game as a Bear. She had seven 20-plus point performances her rookie year. Hampton had eight games in which she scored 20 or more her first season, putting up her first in the Bears' eighth game of the 2005-06 campaign. Ashley Walker, who has had 27 games in her career scoring 20 or more points did not accomplish the feat until the last game of her freshman year, scoring 21 in the Bears' NCAA tournament loss to St. Johns. Morris' 20 points came from the bench. All of the other three player's 20 point games came as starters. Morris' 20 points was the most by a player coming off the bench for the Bears since Courtney Johnson scored 22 against Santa Clara in the 2000-01 season.
SHOOTING Casey Morris hit six of her ten shots against Arizona, the third time this season that she has made five or more field goals in a game. Her .600 shooting percentage was the fourth time this season she has shot better than 60 percent from the field in a game. This performance followed her .833 shooting performance (5-for-6) against Saint Mary's. Ashley Walker, who made seven of her 11 field goal attempts in the Saint Mary's game and went 11-for-18 against Arizona, leads the team with seven games with a field goal percentage of .600 or above. Walker is fifth in the Pac-10 with a .585 overall field goal percentage this season, the best numbers of her career. She has raised her career average to .523 after coming in this year with a .515. She currently ranks sixth in Cal career field goal percentage. Walker currently ranks No. 15 among all DI players in field goal percentage.
TEAM LEADER Ashley Walker has led the Bears in scoring in all but four games and the team in rebounding in seven of 11 games. Casey Morris snapped a streak of six straight games with the team high points when Morris scored 20 points against Saint Mary's. Lauren Greif was the only other Bear to lead the team in rebounding in a game this season before Devanei Hampton tied for the lead in the Saint Mary's game. Both Hampton and Greif pulled in seven rebounds in that game. Greif led the Bears against Arizona with her second double-digit rebound game of the season, pulling in 11 boards. Hampton was just behind her with 9. Greif also had a team-high four steals against the Wildcats.
LEADING THE Pac-10 Ashley Walker continues to leads the Pac-10 in scoring average. Her 22.5 ppg paces the conference and ranks her No. 6 among all DI players. Gabriela Marginean of Drexel leads the nation at 25.8 ppg. Walker is the only Pac-10 player to be ranked in the top 50 in scoring. Oregon's Micaela Cocks (16.2 ppg) is the only other Pac-10 in the top 100 at No. 80. Walker was among the nation's leaders in rebounding, ranking No. 77 with 8.8 rebounds per game in the last top-100 national rankings. She is fourth in the Pac-10 in that statistic with her current 8.3 per game. Junior guard Natasha Vital's impressive .459 three-point shooting efficiency has her leading the Pac-10. She has hit 17 treys in 37 attempts this season.
ASSISTS Alexis Gray-Lawson is averaging 4.5 assists per game, third best in the Pac-10. She continues to lead the Pac-10 in assist to turnover ratio with a 2.45. Gray-Lawson was ranked No. 5 among all NCAA I women's basketball players in last week's national stats rankings report in that category. Gray-Lawson had four assists to two turnovers against Arizona. Natasha Vital led the team with 6 assists. She had three turnovers.
DEFENSE Cal continues to rank in the top 50 teams in scoring defense. The Bears have held opponents to under 50 points six times this season, including allowing just 46 points Friday at Arizona. The Bears all an average of just 53.9 points per game. They are second among Pac-10 teams in this category, trailing just Oregon State who has allowed just 50.4 per game.
DEFENSE PT II Cal's pressure caused all sorts of problems for Saint Mary's offense with the Gaels committing 31 turnovers, the most by a Cal opponent this season. The pressure most severely affected the Gaels' two leading scorers. Louella Tomlinson and Maija Lahde combined to score 18 points for the Gaels, but also combined for 17 turnovers. Cal scored 30 points off turnovers in the game, 24 of those coming in their strong second half.
DEV BECOMING DEV The Saint Mary's game was the first time in the 2008-09 season that Devanei Hampton was announced in the starting line-up for the Bears. Hampton played 23 minutes on the court against the Gaels, scoring a season-high 13 points with a season-high seven rebounds. Hampton missed the first games of the season recovering from off-season knee surgery. Hampton missed eight games to start the 2007-08 season coming back from knee surgery. When she finally came back last season, it took her five games before she posted her first double-digit scoring effort. This season, it took her just four games, with Hampton scoring 10 against Princeton. The 13 against Saint Mary's was her second double-digit effort of the season. Hampton averaged 15.3 points per game in her Cal career entering the 2008-09 season. Against Arizona, Hampton played 34 minutes, a season-high and the most minutes played by any Cal player in the game (Lauren Greif also played an identical 34 minutes).
WALKER MOVES INTO THIRD PLACE Ashley Walker entered the season with 1,470 career points, 30 points shy of becoming just the seventh player in Cal history to score 1,500 points. She scored her 1500th career point in the first half of the Nevada game. Walker entered the season ranked seventh on the Cal all-time scoring leaders list. She has since moved past Cynthia Cooke (1982-85, 1,641 points) and into third on the all-time points list with 1,740. She needs 27 points to pass Jennifer Bennett (1984-87, 1,766 points) and move into second place on the all-time scoring list.
WALKER No. 2 ALL-TIME REBOUNDER Ashley Walker's eight rebounds against Iowa moved her to second on the all-time Cal rebounding list, passing Kesha Martin (1989-93), who has 875, to make her the second leading rebounder in school history. Walker now has 921 career rebounds, needing 79 to become just the second player in Cal history to grab 1,000 boards, and is 108 rebounds shy of passing Colleen Galloway (1978-81) to become Cal's all-time leading rebounder.
CAREER ASSISTS Junior guard Natasha Vital moved into the top 10 in career assists with her four dishes against SJSU, passing Sherrise Smith (1996-99, 292) to officially enter the Bear record book. Vital tallied career assist No. 300 against saint Mary's on a feed to Devanei Hampton in the paint with four minutes left in the first half. Vital needs 10 assists to move into ninth place on the career assists list.
GRAY-LAWSON's 1000 POINT MEMBERSHIP Alexis Gray-Lawson became the 20th member of Cal's 1,000 point club on Nov. 29 in the third game of the Paradise Jam Tournament against Iowa, with 1:26 left in the first half on a runner through the lane. Gray-Lawson needs 151 points to move into the top-10 on the career-scoring list.
CAL PRESEASON UNANIMOUS TOP-10 California is ranked No. 9 or higher in four preseason women's basketball polls. Both the AP poll and the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' poll have the Bears ranked ninth. Lindy's Magazine has the Bears ranked eighth. Athlon Sports Magazine rates the Bears as the No. 2 team in the country. The Bears were included in all 18 regular season AP polls last season as well as being chosen as the preseason No. 13 team. They spent three weeks ranked No. 8, their highest-ever ranking. They closed out the season ranked No. 10. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, the Bears also were included in all 19 regular-season polls and were the preseason No. 14 team. They spent two weeks ranked No. 8 on the USA Today/ESPN poll and finished the season ranked No. 18 after falling to George Washington in the second round game of the NCAA Tournament.
CAL PICKED SECOND IN PAC-10 The California women's basketball team was predicted to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the preseason coaches' poll and the media poll. The ears had four first-place votes and 76 total points to place second. This is the highest that Cal has ever been slated to finish since the poll's inception in 1998-99. Stanford, the national runner-up, earned six first-place votes to take first place in the poll. Arizona State was picked to finish third after advancing to the postseason in 2007-08 for the fourth straight season. Last season, the Bears finished a program all-time best of second with a school-record 15-3 record. Cal led or held a share of first place in the conference until the Bears lost the regular-season final at Washington, 74-66, on March 2. The Pac-10 had three teams earn NCAA Tournament bids last year, the sixth consecutive year at least three league teams earned invites.
Preseason Coaches' Poll Team (First Place) Points 1. Stanford (6) 78 2. California (4) 76 3. Arizona State 65 4. USC 55 5. UCLA 48 6. Oregon 40 7. Washington 27 8. Oregon State 25 9. Washington State 20 10. Arizona 16
Preseason Media Poll Team (First Place) Points 1. Stanford (13) 139 2. California (1) 126 3. Arizona State 112 4. USC 94 5. UCLA 85 6. Oregon 64 7. Washington 56 8. Oregon State 51 9. Arizona 26 10. Washington St. 21
HAMPTON, WALKER PRESEASON All-PAC-10 Ashley Walker, a two-time first team All-Pac-10 honoree, was the lone unanimous selection to the preseason All-Pac-10 team. Cal had two of the five players on the preseason All-Pac-10 team with senior forward Devanei Hampton, a three-time All-Pac-10 honoree, also earning the recognition.
HAMPTON, WALKER EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS Devanei Hampton, a two-time All-American and three-time All-Pac-10 honoree added more honors to her resume. Hampton was named preseason third-team All-American by The Sporting News. She is also on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the State Farm/Wade Trophy Watch List. Ashley Walker, a two-time All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 player, was named a first-team preseason All-American by the Sporting News and an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. She, like Hampton, is also on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and the State Farm/Wade Trophy Watch List.
WALKER NAMED TO NAISMITH TROPHY EARLY SEASON WATCH Ashley Walker has been named to the Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List as a player to contend for this national player of the year honor. For the sixth consecutive season, presenting sponsor AT&T will once again set the standard in allowing fans to participate in determining this year's winner. Through the power and ease of text messaging, fan voting will account for an unprecedented 25% of the final results - more than any other national college basketball award.
WALKER NAMED BEST POWER FORWARD BY ESPN.COM ESPN.com, in a list of the top five players at each position, declared Ashley Walker to be the best power forward in the nation. "She plays with the aggressive mentality of thinking she has something to prove. She has been the steady presence as Cal has risen in the national rankings" said ESPN contributor Mechelle Voepel about Walker. Alexis Gray-Lawson was among the top five 2-guards. Devanei Hampton was "other forwards receiving votes".
CAL LANDS NO. 1 RATED RECRUITING CLASS Seven highly-ranked student-athletes, all of whom are ranked in the top 50 by at least one scouting service, have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball at California beginning with the 2009-10 season. The combination of the seven incoming players has given Cal the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Blue Star Basketball Report. Cal's recruiting class is ranked No. 2 by All-Star Girls Report and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, with ESPN HoopGurlz ranking the class at No. 3. Included in the Bears freshman class of 2009-10 are two Bay Area standouts, Sacred Heart Cathedral High's Tierra Rogers and Pinole Valley High's DeNesha Stallworth, who will be joining four Southern California prep stars, Talia Caldwell of Marlborough High in Los Angeles, Layshia Clarendon of Cajon High in San Bernadino, Eliza Pierre of John Muir High in Pasadena, and Gennifer Brandon of Chatsworth High in Sylmar, and one Oregon product, Brenna Heater of Ashland High in Ashland. Of the seven Bear recruits, five are rated in the top ten at their position (as ranked by ESPN HoopGurlz) and all are in the top 15.
CAL TO HOST 2009 NCAA REGIONAL, 2010 FIRST & SECOND ROUNDS Cal as been selected as a regional host for the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship and as a first- and second-round host for the 2010 event. Competition will take place at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley in 2009 and 2010, marking the first time the venue has been chosen for the NCAA women's or men's basketball tournament. Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999. In 1992, Harmon Gym - the Bears' previous home before Haas Pavilion - was the site of an NCAA first-round women's match-up between Cal and Santa Clara. Cal was the host of the 1998 NCAA women's regional at the Oakland Arena.
THIS WEEK'S Pac-10 OPPONENTS
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE (8-4) The Arizona State Sundevils fell out of the top-25 polls for the first time this week after losing at Nebraska, 62-58, but are still receiving votes in both polls. The Sun Devils were ranked No. 17 and No. 18 in the preseason polls for the Associated Press and ESPN/WBCA Coaches, respectively. ASU returns 11 players, including three starters -- guards Briann January and senior posts Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey -- from last season's team which went 22-11 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. ASU began the week ranked No. 2 in the nation in 3-point field goal shooting percentage (.423) and No. 3 in assists (18.7 per game). The Sun Devils were also ranked 13th in both overall field goal percentage (.459) and steals per game (12.6).Currently the Sun Devils are first in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal shooting percentage (.423), rebounding defense (28.5 rpg), assists (18.7 apg) and steals (12.6 spg) and are second in field goal percentage (.459), blocks (4.3 bpg) and assist-to-turnover ratio.
IN THE OPENER AGAINST STANFORD Jillian Harmon scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made a key steal down the stretch to help No. 11 Stanford beat Arizona State 64-61 on Friday night in the Pac-10 opener for both teams. Kayla Pedersen added 17 points and six rebounds for Stanford (10-3). She hit a free throw with 6 seconds remaining but missed her second attempt, allowing the Sun Devils (8-5) to try a last-second shot that could have tied it. Dymond Simon was off on a 25-footer, however, and Stanford held on. Briann January scored 21 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range, to lead Arizona State. Stanford won for the first time this season after trailing at halftime, falling behind 31-24 at the break and 40-26 less than three minutes into the second half. Arizona State went ahead after Stanford's Jayne Appel picked up her fourth foul with 18:08 left. However, Appel, who averages 14.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, hit five free throws during a 14-0 run that ended with Pedersen's 3-pointer and gave the Cardinal a 56-52 advantage with 4:02 remaining. Kayli Murphy hit a 15-footer with 54 seconds left to give the Sun Devils a 61-60 lead, but Pedersen answered with a drive to the basket with 35 seconds remaining to put Stanford in front for good. Harmon added a free throw with 19 seconds left.
Arizona State Probable Starters (2008-09 per-game averages) No. Name Ht. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG G 20 Briann January 5-8 Sr. Spokane, Wash. 13.3 2.6 G 01 Dymond Simon 5-5 Jr. Phoenix, Ariz. 12.8 2.1 G 13 Danielle Orsillo 5-9 Jr. Oroville, Calif. 8.1 2.3 C 33 Sybil Dosty 6-3 Sr. Tucson, Ariz. 10.1 7.9 F 34 Lauren Lacey 6-3 Sr. Olympia Fields, Ill. 7.1 3.6