Jan. 1, 2013
Huntsman Center| Salt Lake City, Utah
BERKELEY - No. 7/7 California opens Pac-12 play and a new year with a trip to Utah in what will mark the debut of the Golden Bears on the Pac-12 Networks. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. (PT) at the Huntsman Center. Krista Blunk (play-by-play) and Tammy Blackburn (analyst) will handle the call for Friday's contest.
The Bears are in the midst of the best start in program history at 10-1 and will look to win their conference opener for the first time since the 2008-09 team rattled off 11 straight wins to begin Pac-10 play. Utah enters the game with a 9-2 record after dropping a 62-56 decision to North Dakota in the non-conference finale.
Fans can listen to Dave Lewis's live call of the game on CalBears.com's premium All-Access player for a monthly fee.
A CALIFORNIA WIN AT UTAH WOULD:
UTAH (9-2, 0-0 PAC-12): Utah enters the matchup with a 9-2 record with the lone losses coming at home to BYU (53-48) and North Dakota (62-56). The duo of Taryn Wicijowski and Michelle Plouffe lead the Utes with 16.8 and 16.4 ppg. Wicijowski also leads the team with 8.0 rebounds per game. Iwalani Rodrigues contributes 11.5 ppg. The Utes are one of the top 3pt shooting teams in the country with seven players shooting over .300 from beyond the arc.
CALIFORNIA-UTAH SERIES HISTORY: California holds a 7-4 series advantage and has won the last five meetings between the two teams. Last season, the Bears defeated the Utes 63-56 in Salt Lake City and 60-46 in Berkeley. The Utes last defeated Cal in a 91-60 victory in Salt Lake City on Nov. 26, 1988. The Utes hold a 2-1 series advantage in Salt Lake City.
GAME RECAP: Talia Caldwell had a season-high 19 points and eight rebounds to help the No. 8 Golden Bears continue the best start in school history with a 70-43 victory over George Washington. Layshia Clarendon and Gennifer Brandon each added 12 points for the Bears, who open their Pac-12 season next week with three of their first four games against ranked opponents. Clarendon moved to No. 10 on the California all-time scoring list with 1,378 career points, surpassing Kesha Martin's 1,368 career points from 1989-93.
IN THE RANKINGS: California moves up one spot to No. 7 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches' polls. The Bears are nearing the highest rankings since the 2008-09 team climbed as high as No. 3 in the country, a program-best mark. That team, led by Alexis Gray-Lawson, went on to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 with a 27-8 final record. Five teams on this year's schedule - Stanford (4/3), Duke (3/4), UCLA (16/17), Kansas (21/20) and Colorado (20/25) - are ranked this week.
NATION'S TOUGHEST STRETCH?: The Bears open Pac-12 play with possibly the toughest eight-game stretch in the country. California travels to a 9-2 Utah team and No. 20/25 Colorado before taking on No. 4 Stanford in a span of five days. The Bears then play at Stanford five days later before hosting USC, No. 16/17 UCLA, No. 20/25 Colorado and Utah to close January.
PICK YOUR WEAPON: One thing Coach Gottlieb is preaching this season is the balanced options that her team possesses on the offensive end of the court, and the numbers back up that assertion. Five Bears average double figures scoring with a sixth averaging 6.9, and a different Bear has led the team in scoring in six of 11 games* (Gennifer Brandon and Talia Caldwell both scored 15 points vs EWU and Brittany Boyd and Brandon both scored 19 vs CSUB - making Brandon, Boyd, Caldwell and Layshia Clarendon the lone Bears with the top output in 2+ games).
TOP BEAR STARTS: California surpassed the 1992-93 team for the best start in program history at 10-1 with their win over George Washington last week.
CLARENDON MOVES TO 10th ALL-TIME: Senior Layshia Clarendon surpassed Kesha Martin for 10th on the California all-time points list with her 12 against GWU. Clarendon currently sits at 1,376 career points, and is on pace to score 1,615 at the end of the regular season - a mark that would be good for sixth all-time.
CAL ON THE BOARDS: Senior Talia Caldwell and junior Gennifer Brandon combine to make the Cal post players possibly the most dominant on the boards in the Pac-12. Caldwell is the active Pac-12 leader with 816 rebounds, and Brandon is not far behind at No. 4 on the active list with 760 boards. No other duo in the league combines for over 1,250 rebounds, let alone the 1,576 by these two.
CALDWELL JUMPS UP THE BOOKS: Senior Talia Caldwell continues to climb California's all-time rebound list with each passing game for the Bears. Caldwell currently sits 7th with 816 career rebounds all-time at Cal, 39 behind Cynthia Cooke for 6th all-time. Caldwell is also just 67 points shy of becoming member No. 23 of the 1,000-point club at Cal.
HIGH PERCENTAGE: Three Bears are at the top of the Pac-12 and NCAA lists in field goal percentage, led by senior Talia Caldwell's nation-leading .696 field goal percentage. Sophomore Reshanda Gray ranks second in the Pac-12 at .603 and would be sixth in the NCAA statistics if she met the minimum requirements of five made field goals per game. Junior Gennifer Brandon is seventh in the Pac-12 and 36th in the country with a .534 field goal percentage.
IN THE NCAA (as of Dec. 31): Cal stands at No. 10 in the NCAA in scoring offense (78.0 ppg), No. 10 in field goal percentage (.475), No. 4 in rebounding margin (+14.5) and No. 14 in scoring margin (+21.5) entering the week. Individually, three Bears are in the country's top 40 in field goal percentage, led by Talia Caldwell's national-leading .646.
BECOMING ELITE: The Bears speak this season of becoming one of the "elite" teams in NCAA women's basketball after seeing flashes in 2011-12 but not quite making the jump with close losses to No. 2 Stanford, No. 12 Ohio State, No. 16 Rutgers, No. 24 Texas and No. 4 Notre Dame. The first test in 2012-13 was a Georgetown team that was on the fringes of the top 25, and the Bears responded with a 72-56 victory. The Bears couldn't overcome a slow first half at No. 4 Duke in the next test, a 71-65 road victory at Northwestern and 88-79 victory over No. 19 Kansas provided those non-conference marquee victories that eluded the team last season. Cal opens Pac-12 play with a streak where 5 of 8 games are against ranked opponents.