Jan. 2, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. - California senior forward Ashley Walker tallied a game-high 23 points to go along with six rebounds to lead the #13-ranked Golden Bears to a 56-46 win over host Arizona, Friday evening in the Pac-10 opener for both teams at McKale Center.
Walker tortured the Wildcats from the baseline in the second half against the Arizona zone, hitting 8-of-11 attempts in the second half to tally 16 of her points.
In the first half, it was the outside shooting of reserve guard Casey Morris that allowed Cal to build a 29-23 lead at the intermission. The freshman back-up point guard was 6-of-7 from the field, including a 5-of-5 mark from three-point range, and tallied all 18 of her points in 15 first half minutes.
The Wildcats did not do themselves any favors early on. After starting off strong the past four games, all victories, the Cats made just 2-of-10 shots to start the contest and committed five turnovers to fall behind, 15-6.
Despite shooting just 28.1 percent for the game (16-of-57), Arizona managed to stay within striking distance of the Golden Bears until the final moments. Cal (10-2, 1-0 Pac-10) stretched the lead to 11 points on a pair of occasions in the second half, but Reiko Thomas scored five-straight points late in the game to make it 52-45 with 3:18 to play.
Following a miss by Devanei Hampton, the Wildcats were unable to convert at the 2:24 mark as Courtney Clements missed on a short jumper. Alexis Gray-Lawson missed a three-pointer on the other end, but Lauren Greif came up with one of her game-high 11 rebounds and Walker drained another jumper at the 1:59 mark to ice the game.
Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe was saddled with two fouls for most of the first half and failed to register a double-double for the first time in four games. She finished with just six points but matched Greif with 11 rebounds.
Thomas led Arizona with 16 points and 5 rebounds while Clements chipped in with 12 points, four rebounds and three steals. Ashley Frazier added eight points and six assists as she and Thomas went the distance for the Wildcats.
Arizona (7-5, 0-1 Pac-10) returns to the hardwood on Sunday, January 4 to host #12-ranked Stanford, who squeezed out a 64-61 win at Arizona State, with tip-off set for 2 p.m.