Dec. 21, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -Alexis Gray-Lawson pulled up for long jumpers and drove to the basket with an authority she hadn't shown all season on her surgically repaired right knee.
Gray-Lawson scored 16 of her season-high 25 points in the first half and No. 12 California returned from an 11-day break for final exams to beat Kansas 74-41 on Friday night in its last non-conference game of the season.
This game was a far different outcome for Gray-Lawson than Cal's previous matchup with Kansas last December, when she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee. She needed surgery and missed the rest of the season.
"I was kind of excited," Gray-Lawson said. "I've been preparing for this game. All of them (teammates) said that if I was going to get hurt in the second half, I might as well do something in the first half."
On Friday, she scored 12 points in the first 11 minutes, making four of five shots as Cal began the game shooting 61 percent. Gray-Lawson shot 8-for-13 and received a standing ovation when she took a seat for good with 2:44 left in the game.
"That was so funny," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said of Gray-Lawson's big game. "I thought it was her best game. All of a sudden tonight, it was like, 'Wow, she's back."'
Lauren Greif added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Bears (9-2), who bounced back from a 56-51 loss at Rutgers in their last game Dec. 10, and improved to 5-0 at home with their 29th straight non-conference win at home.
"We wanted to have a great end to our non-conference schedule and have momentum going into Pac-10," Greif said.
On a night when Cal's talented posts struggled, the guard play was superb.
Cal was missing star center Devanei Hampton, the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year. Hampton, who had been back in action the last two games, was evaluated in shootaround earlier in the day after her surgically repaired right knee flared up and showed some swelling.
Natasha Vital scored a season-best 14 points as Cal snapped the Jayhawks' six-game winning streak and equaled its start from a year ago. Before the game, Ashley Walker received the game ball from her 1,000th point, scored against UC Riverside on Nov. 15. Walker gave the specially marked ball to her mom as a souvenir.
"It's been so much hype about Ashley and Devanei," Gray-Lawson said. "I remember reading a comment that Cal's post players are so great and the backcourt is average. Even if they have great games, they have great games because of us."
Hampton is expected to play in the Bears' Pac-10 opener against Washington at home Dec. 28.
Sade Morris had 10 points and four rebounds and was the only player to score in double figures for Kansas, which played its third straight game without leading scorer Danielle McCray because of a shin injury. She came off the bench to score 19 points and grab nine rebounds against Cal during the teams' meeting last season, won 73-65 by the Bears.
The Jayhawks (9-2) had been outrebounding its opponents by more than six per game with a 40.7 average, but couldn't keep up with Cal's quick tempo on offense and pressure defense.
"We got beat off the dribble a lot," Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "Those are things we can fix. It's position defense. Our post defense in the first half was solid. We just didn't guard their guards."
The Bears held a 37-30 advantage on the boards, getting seven from Walker and eight from Krista Foster.
Boyle, who was immediately headed to the San Francisco airport for a cross-country flight to Pittsburgh for the holidays, was pleased with her team's 19-for-24 performance at the free-throw line.
"I thought it was a great game for us for 40 minutes," she said. "Our guards really stepped up."
The Jayhawks, who have dropped their last three to Cal, missed their first six shots and called timeout at 15:51, already behind 9-0. Kansas trailed 37-19 at halftime in its third straight game against an opponent from California, shooting 30 percent and committing 11 turnovers.