11:00 PM ET, December 28, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Devanei Hampton is getting healthy at just the right time for No. 11 California.The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, who has missed nine games this season after undergoing right knee surgery in November, had a season-high 12 points and eight rebounds to help the Bears beat Washington 66-40 in the conference opener for both teams.Ashley Walker added 13 points and seven rebounds while Alexis Gray-Lawson had 12 points for California (10-2, 1-0), which is off to its best start since going 10-2 to begin the 1991-92 campaign. The Bears, who remained unbeaten at home this season, beat the Huskies for only the 11th time in 50 games.Wearing a thick black brace on her right knee, Hampton got off to a slow start offensively, missing her first two shots from the floor while going 0-for-4 from the free-throw line. The Bears' junior center made two free throws with 10:56 left then sank a 13-foot jumper from above the key to cap a 15-0 run that put California ahead 23-15 midway through the first half.Hampton later scored on consecutive trips down the court, including on a double-spin move past Huskies' center Andrea Plouffe under the basket, then followed her own miss with a putback that helped give the Bears a 39-19 halftime lead.More importantly, Hampton's knee held up just fine. She played 19 minutes after being forced to sit out Cal's 74-41 win over Kansas on Dec. 21 after her injury flared up.Hampton left the game with 5:14 remaining and wore a bag of ice on her knee while on the bench.With Hampton and Walker controlling the inside, California had no problem winning its first conference opener since 2003-04. The Bears led by as many as 28 in the second half, outrebounded the Huskies and used a 36-14 edge in the paint.Sara Mosiman had 12 points for Washington (5-8), which shot only 24.2 percent in the first half while losing for the third time in four games. The Huskies, who play at No. 2 Stanford on Sunday, stunned the then-No. 20 Bears, 79-76, a year ago in Berkeley but couldn't repeat the upset at Haas Pavilion and ended up with their most lopsided loss of the season.