Dec. 7, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) No. 22 Texas Christian handed third-ranked California its first loss of the season with a hard-fought 82-73 victory in the championship game of the Colliers International Classic on Sunday.
Ashley Walker had 31 points - one off her career high - and 12 rebounds, reaching the 30-point mark for the third time this season, but it wasn't enough for Cal in this sloppy performance. The Golden Bears (7-1) saw their school-record 33-game home nonconference winning streak end after allowing their most points since an 87-75 loss to rival Stanford on Jan. 14, 2006.
Tournament MVP Helena Sverrisdottir added 17 points and a career-best 10 assists and TK LaFleur 13 points and six rebounds for the Frogs (8-2), who avenged a 74-55 loss to Cal at home in Fort Worth last season. TCU bounced back after a tough defeat Friday at Fresno State to beat Princeton on Friday and then pull off this upset.
Natasha Vital added 21 points and seven rebounds for Cal, scoring on a putback with 45.7 seconds to play to pull her team within 76-73. The Golden Bears pressed full court and quickly fouled Shayla Moore, who made both free throws at 38.2 then two more with 22.5 to go.
Cal struggled to get in sync during the first half, having a tough time creating shots on offense against TCU's stingy defense and giving up key baskets on the other end. TCU's game plan was to constantly mix up its defense to keep the Bears off balance.
Sverrisdottir and LaFleur hit back-to-back 3-pointers for TCU during an 8-0 spurt that gave their team a 52-46 lead early in the second half, but Walker responded with four straight points for Cal. The Frogs led 61-52 before Cal answered with a 10-0 run.
Cal caught a break when the TCU bench was whistled for a technical foul with 8:30 to play. Walker made both free throws, then Alexis Gray-Lawson hit two more as the Bears took a 62-61 lead. But the Bears couldn't do enough right late.
The Bears, who shot 40.4 percent from three point range at the Paradise Jam tournament and 50.0 percent against Princeton, struggled with their long range shot, hitting just 7-of-27 from long range. Natasha Vital accounted for three of the Bears treys, going 3-for-7 from long range. Vital was 7-for-12 in the tournament.
Devanei Hampton, the 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year, played 16 minutes in her fifth game back after recovering from knee surgery but was 0-for-3 with two points and one rebound. Her minutes are gradually increasing. She played 17 minutes in Saturday's 75-53 rout of Princeton, scoring ten points in that game, but still hasn't returned to the starting lineup.
Rama N'diaye, meanwhile, could make her season debut as soon as next weekend at the Basketball By the Bay event in San Jose or perhaps not until Cal hosts Baylor on Dec. 22. The 6-foot-5 N'diaye is coming back from right knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the team's first-round NCAA victory over San Diego last March.
Rentschler scored TCU's first nine points during an 11-2 run that put the Frogs ahead 29-22 with 6:28 remaining in the first half. Casey Morris scored off a steal in the closing seconds of the half to pull Cal within 39-37 at the break.
TCU's victory at the Colliers International snaps the longest winning streak to start a season in program histroy. It also snapped a strong of five straight championships for the Bears in their annual December tournament and a strong of five staright MVP's. Helena Sverrisdottir was named the tournament's MVP. TCU's Rachel Rentschler, Princeton's Whitney Downs and Saint Louis' Amanda Kemezys joined Cal's Ashley Walker and Natasha Vital in earning all-tournament honors.
The Bears will play in their third-straight tournament next weekend, heading to San Jose for the Basketball by The Bay tournament, taking on San Jose State on Friday night, followed by a showdown with No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday.