Dec. 30, 2011
Saturday, Dec. 31: California at USC, 11 a.m.
LOS ANGELES - The California Golden Bears (9-4, 0-1 Pac-12) close out the 2011 calendar year, playing for the first time in the history of the program on New Year's Eve, as they face the USC Trojans (5-6, 0-1 Pac-12) in Los Angeles on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 11 a.m.
The Bears have played three games on New Years Day, but they have never played on New Years Eve. This is also the only morning game of the year with an 11 a.m. tip time.
Cal is trying to rebound from a 60-55 loss against UCLA on Thursday night in the conference opener. The Bears had their worst shooting performance of the season, making just 29.7 percent of their shots in their first game back from Christmas break.
The Bears once again dominated the rebounding game, outrebounding the Bruins by 20, 55-35. The Bears had 30 offensive rebounds, the most by a Cal team in a single game in at least the last six years. Sophomore guard Gennifer Brandon had more offensive rebounds (6) than all but one of the UCLA players had total rebounds (Markel Walker had eight rebounds in the game, the rest of the players had five or fewer).
Brandon had her fourth double double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds, one of eight Pac-12 players to have four or more double doubles this season. Brandon's 11 boards also helped her maintain her 10.7 rebounds per game average, which ranks second among all Pac-12 players.
Junior center Talia Caldwell also had double digit rebounds (10). She also had ten boards in Cal's final non-conference game against Dartmouth.
Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb will have a second try at logging the first Pac-12 victory of her career, taking on the USC Trojans who are coming off a 61-53 loss to Stanford. Thursday's game against the Cardinal was just the third home game of the season for the Trojans.
USC leads the all-time series, 34-23. Cal has won 10 of the last 13 meetings against the two teams, however, Cal has lost the last three times the two teams faced one another at the Galen Center. The Bears won, 82-71, last season in Berkeley but fell, 80-67, in the last meeting between the two teams.
Leading Scorer For the first time in her Cal career, junior guard Layshia Clarendon leads the Bears in scoring average. Clarendon overtook the team lead, passing freshman forward Reshanda Gray, who has led the team in scoring most of the season. Clarendon has scored in double digits five of the last six games, including scoring 12 points against UCLA. Clarendon was Cal's second leading scorer last season, but was quickly closing in on the team lead when the season came to an abrupt end during the WNIT Tournament. Clarendon had raised her season average to 13.2 ppg by the end of the season with DeNesha Stallworth's average falling to 13.3.
Southern California Gurlz The Bears roster features seven players from Southern California. Even Avigiel Cohen, who hails from Ramat HaSharon, Israel, was born in Los Angeles before moving to Israel as a young child. The Southland Bears, in order of distance between their high schools and the Galen Center, are: Talia Caldwell (Marlborough High, Los Angeles, 5.9 miles), Reshanda Gray (Washington Prep, Los Angeles, 7.4 miles), Eliza Pierre (John Muir High, Pasadena, 15.8 miles), Gennifer Brandon (Chatsworth High, Sylmar, 33.4 miles), Justine Hartman (Brea Olinda, Brea, 34.4 miles), Layshia Clarendon (Cajon High, San Bernardino, 66.2 miles), and Lindsay Sherbert (Great Oak High, Temecula, 92.1 miles).
With a Little Help The Bears are averaging 15.58 assists per game. If the number stays at that level for the entire season, it will be the highest assist-per-game average since the Bears averaged 16.8 per game in 1994-95.
ReboundingThe Bears moved up to second in the country (and first in the Pac-12) in rebounding margin, averaging 18.5 more rebounds per game than their opponents. The Bears have outrebounded their opponent in every game this season.
The Bears lead the Pac-12 in most rebounds per game (48.1) and they allow the fewest opponent rebounds per game (29.5).
The Bears have outrebounded their opponents by double digits in ten games this season, including all of their victories and have four games with a 20-or-more rebound differential including besting CSU Bakersfield by 36 (60-24).
The Bears have three games this season where they have pulled in 60 or more rebounds as a team, including 61 last week against Santa Clara. The Bears had one game last season with more than 60 rebounds, the 64-board performance against Yale, which set the Haas Pavilion record, and tied the program record, for most rebounds in a game.
Brandon paces the Bears at 10.7 rebounds per game,11th in the nation and second in the Pac-12.
Only one Cal player in the last 15 years has ended the season averaging nine or more rebounds per game, all-time rebounding leader Ashley Walker who accomplished the feat with 9.3 rpg in 2007-08. The last time that a player averaged more than 9.5 rebounds per game for an entire season was 1993-94 when Ingrid Dixon averaged a program-record 12.0 per game.
Low Down on Down Low The Bears have scored at least 40 points in the paint in each of their last four games. Only one game this season, the opener at Rutgers, have the Bears been outscored in the paint. The Bears scored all 24 points in the first half against UCLA in the paint.
Bench Scoring The Cal bench has scored 412 points this season. The Bears bench needs just 7 points to match last year's season-long total (419 points). The non-starters are contributing a average of 31.7 ppg this season with Cal's opponent's non-starters averaging 11.3 points per game. Against Dartmouth, Cal's non-starters scored 39 points in a game in which the Big Green scored a total of 39 points.
Leading Scorers The Bears have had eight different players lead the team in scoring in a game this season. Last season, the Bears had nine different players lead the team in scoring in at least one game, with every one of their active players pacing the squad at least once.
Eliza Pierre Junior guard Eliza Pierre has been a much more consistent player this season. Pierre is shooting 44.4 percent from the field, almost a 100-point improvement over her career shooting percentage coming into the season (34.9 percent). Pierre also has a 1.51 assist-to-turnover percentage this year. She had a career mark of 1.10 coming into the year. Pierre also has the second-best free throw shooting percentage on the squad, going 9-for-13 from the charity stripe. Last season, Pierre shot 49.2 percent from the free throw line.
Boyd has six games this season with five or more assists including dishing nine against UNLV.
Only three times in the last 12 years has a Cal player averaged four assists per game for an entire season. Natasha Vital did it twice, with 4.0 as a freshman and 4.1 as a sophomore.