Defensive Intensity Propels Bears to 50-Point Win Over Vanguard

Photo: Cal senior forward Ashley Walker puts up one of her 11 shots during the Bears' 87-37 drubbing of Vanguard on Sunday. Walker converted nine of her attempts and finished with 20 points.
Anna Hiatt/Staff
Cal senior forward Ashley Walker puts up one of her 11 shots during the Bears' 87-37 drubbing of Vanguard on Sunday. Walker converted nine of her attempts and finished with 20 points.


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After the No. 9 Cal women's basketball team gave up 51 points to Chico State on Friday night, coach Joanne Boyle let her team know that its defensive effort was simply unacceptable.

The Bears got the message as they forced Vanguard into 20 turnovers in their 87-37 victory Sunday at Haas Pavilion.

Cal once again used a variety of defensive schemes to frustrate the Lions into a field goal percentage of 24.1 for the game.

"We needed to come back stronger from Chico State, so we focused on our defense and our transition this game," Boyle said. "We had some breakdowns at the beginning of the second half, but I thought we did a great job defensively Sunday."

Senior Alexis Gray-Lawson, who led all scorers with 21 points and led the team with three steals, cited the Bears' conditioning work in the offseason as a major factor for its performance.

"I think last year, we definitely wouldn't have been able to play the defensive game we played today," Gray-Lawson said. "Conditioning is definitely coming into play."

Cal's conditioning became crucial when two-time All-American Devanei Hampton underwent knee surgery in the offseason. With Rama N'diaye also recovering from an injury, the Bears have been forced to compete with only nine players.

Fortunately for Cal, endurance hasn't been an issue yet. To Boyle's delight, the team's other All-American Ashley Walker played only 23 minutes Sunday, while Gray-Lawson logged 21.

The ideal minutes that the two seniors put in stemmed from the fact that they received help from all around.

Three other players scored in double figures for the Bears, including sophomore Kelsey Adrian, who had 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

"It's good for the other teammates, like Kelsey, who's playing 27 minutes and getting into her flow," Walker said. "It just makes us better, so when our bigs do get back, our bench is stronger because they're playing those minutes now."

Another player off the bench making the best out of her minutes is freshman Casey Morris. The Bay Area native didn't make a splash on the box score, but her knack for pushing the ball in transition energized the team.

"She's a very smart player and coming into her own," Gray-Lawson said. "I think, sometimes, she's one of those kids that just has to get it, but she's fine."

Morris' quick hands led to a couple of Cal's eight steals for the game. As impressive as the defensive effort was for the Bears, though, Cal turned the ball over 20 times itself.

Many of the Bears' turnovers came from their own mistakes as they were called for traveling more than a handful of times.

"They were trapping out of their zone and making us play rushed," Boyle said. "(The referees') emphasis this year, to be honest, is on traveling and hand-checking."

Tags: CAL WOMEN'S BASKETBALL, KELSEY ADRIAN, JOANNE BOYLE, ALEXIS GRAY-LAWSON, ASHLEY WALKER


Contact Jimmy Tran at [email protected]



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