2:00 PM ET, March 3, 2007
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sometimes it takes Devanei Hampton a half to find her groove. Her coaches told her to keep doing her thing.Hampton had 21 points and nine rebounds and California (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP) moved into the Pac-10 tournament semifinals with a 63-51 victory against Oregon on Saturday."For some odd reason it doesn't come at the beginning of the game," Hampton said. "They did start falling in the second half."With the win, the Golden Bears (23-7) matched their second-most victories in a season -- trailing only the 24 by the 1983-84 team.Hampton, named conference player of the year on Thursday, shot 9-for-16, Natasha Vital scored 16 points and Ashley Walker added 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for Cal. The third-seeded Bears will play in Sunday's first semifinal against Arizona State (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP), which beat UCLA 74-64 Saturday.Carolyn Ganes scored 19 points, Tamika Nurse 12 and Cicely Oaks 11 for the cold-shooting Ducks (16-13), who had won six of the previous nine meetings against Cal. The teams split their two regular-season matchups with each winning at home.Keanna Levy hit a key 3-pointer from the left wing with 9:26 to play to give Cal a 44-38 lead, and the Bears pulled away from there to win their fourth straight and fifth in six games. They won their final three conference games with second-half comebacks, one in double overtime at Oregon State and an overtime victory at home against Southern California.The Bears used a more aggressive defense in the second half in which they extended their zone defense and trapped whenever possible."It was a great second half," said Cal coach Joanne Boyle, the new Pac-10 coach of the year. "We had a letdown in the final minutes of the first half but the kids responded. We went to more of a pressing zone defensively and that seemed to help."Oregon's 6-foot-6 senior Jessie Shetters, the Ducks' top rebounder who has played in three of her team's last four games, has been bothered by a sore back and could not provide the imposing inside presence she usually does. Shetters had two points, a rebound and two fouls in 11 minutes.The sixth-seeded Ducks, who along with Cal earned a bye into Saturday's quarterfinal round, missed their first five shots and began the game 2-of-14 but Cal committed four turnovers in the initial 4 minutes. Oregon shot 34.5 percent for the game and 8-for-19 from 3-point range."They keep changing it up," Ducks coach Bev Smith said. "We couldn't get organized as much as we wanted. We felt we could hang in there with them, and we did that for most of the game."Hampton gave Cal a scare when she fell hard to the court with 13 minutes left in the opening half and grabbed at her back, but stayed in the game. After jumping out to a quick lead, Cal held a 27-26 edge at the break.Oregon still has a strong chance to be invited to the Women's NIT.