10:00 PM ET, February 7, 2008
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) -- California found its offense just in time to avoid a major upset.The ninth-ranked Golden Bears overcame an 11-point first half to beat Oregon State 56-45 on Thursday night. Natasha Vital scored all 17 of her points in the second half to give California consecutive 20-win seasons for just the second time in school history.The Beavers led just 13-11 at the half, and California had more turnovers (12) than points at halftime. Oregon State had 11 turnovers. The Golden Bears avoided the school record for fewest points in a half by one.The 24 combined first-half points were two points more than Division I mark for fewest combined points in a half. Radford led Liberty 14-8 at the half on Jan. 27, 2001.California (20-3, 11-1 Pacific-10 Conference) scored the first six points of the second half to take a 17-13 lead and never trailed again."I just wanted to come out aggressive and show everybody we could play against the zone and that we could score," Vital said.Rama N'diaye's lay-in with 8:50 remaining capped a 6-0 California run. The Golden Bears later went ahead 43-32 on Ashley Walker's three-point play with 3:39 left.Oregon State (10-13, 3-9) got as close as six late, but California made 11 of 12 foul shots in the final 1:01 to put the game away."Tonight, I thought they did a good job of hassling and bothering our shooters," Oregon State coach LaVonda Wagner said. "In the second half they came out and attacked us. Every time we got close, Natasha Vital was able to get open on that left-side wing and knock down a 3-point shot."California's Ashley Walker had 16 of her 17 points in the second half and also grabbed eight rebounds."She made some great shots, some really tough shots," California coach Joanne Boyle said of Vital, a guard. "She was poised, really focused. She got the ball to Ashley on the baseline, where Ashley is really good at scoring."Alex Mitchell had 13 points and Ashley Allen 10 for Oregon State. California is off to its best start in program history. It last posted consecutive 20-win seasons in the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons.California has now won 12 of 13, with the only loss in that stretch a 72-52 defeat at sixth-ranked Stanford on Jan. 26.The teams combined to shoot 10 of 41 in the first half. California went scoreless for more than 11 minutes, though Oregon State scored just seven points in that stretch.Devanei Hampton's basket with 3:26 remaining stopped the Golden Bears' drought and closed Oregon State's advantage to 11-9.