5:00 PM ET, December 30, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- When starting point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson went down with a season-ending knee injury earlier this month, California figured to rely even more on its talented post players.Some of the other guards are showing that they can help out too.Keanna Levy hit 3-pointers in big runs in both the first and second halves on her way to a career-high 17 points and fill-in point guard Natahsa Vital had a strong floor game with eight assists to lead the Golden Bears (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today; No. 18 AP) to a 65-48 victory over Arizona on Saturday."Typically our posts lead us on offense," coach Joanne Boyle said. "But they sat in a zone and you have to knock down shots when they're playing a zone. Keanna came out and she was on fire."Levy hit all four of her 3-point attempts and Lauren Greif also hit four 3-pointers as Cal shot 9-for-14 from long range.That and two big runs in each half helped the Golden Bears (10-3, 2-2 Pac-10) bounce back from a 74-58 loss to No. 10 Arizona State on Thursday. Boyle challenged her players after that game to play better defense and they delivered, holding Arizona to 35 percent shooting overall and scoreless for more than seven minutes during a 16-0 first-half run."We just wanted to come out and regroup from the Arizona State game," Levy said. "Defense is always a focal point, but it was more so today coming off the loss to ASU. We really wanted to make that our focus."Ashley Whisonant scored 18 points and Jessica Arnold added 12 for the Wildcats (6-9, 0-3), who have lost six of seven and are off to their worst start in the conference since dropping the first three games in 1992-93.The recent skid has slowed coach Joan Bonvicini's run at 600 career wins. Bonvicini remains stuck on 597 and will resume her quest at the milestone with home games next week against Washington and Washington State.The Wildcats have been outscored by an average of 24 points in their three conference losses to No. 10 Arizona State, No. 14 Stanford and Cal, and are 0-7 against ranked teams."It's great playing those teams, but you need to be successful," Bonvicini said. "I think one way of building confidence is winning games. I think early on we were right there with those teams. Losing is tough, We need to get some wins here and get our confidence back."The Bears broke the game open with the big run midway through the first half. After Arnold's third 3-pointer tied the score at 11 with 12:58 to go, the Wildcats didn't score again until Whisonant's layup with 5:16 remaining. By that time, Cal already had a double-digit lead.Rama N'Diaye started the run with a jumper and added another basket after Levy's 3-pointer. Devanei Hampton scored the next seven points before N'Diaye capped the spurt with another basket to make it 27-11.The Bears kept the lead in double digits the rest of the way, getting another 3-pointer by Levy in a 10-0 run in the second half that made it 49-27 with 13:40 to go.Vital, starting her fourth game in place of Gray-Lawson, had five points and seven rebounds to go along with her career high in assists. The one negative for the freshman was that she committed six of the team's 25 turnovers."Each game we play, I'm getting more comfortable with the offense and the college level," Vital said. "I think I just need to slow down a little bit more. Sometimes I'm in a rush and try to do everything too fast. I just need to slow down a bit."Cal leading scorer Ashley Walker was held to six points, ending a streak of 13 straight double-figure games dating to the final game of last season. Hampton scored 11 points and N'diaye added 10.The trip to the Bay Area was a disappointment for Wildcats leading scorer Joy Hollingsworth.The former San Francisco star who transferred to Arizona was held to five points on 2-for-14 shooting. She scored only seven points on 2-for-22 shooting in the two games against Stanford and Cal, dropping her average from 16.1 points per game to 14.4."We know we can play better than we've been performing," Hollingsworth said. "It's been very frustrating because we haven't been shooting the ball as well as we have in the past. I think going home will be very good for us."
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