4:15 PM ET, March 8, 2008
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Joanne Boyle could finally breathe easy.Her California team hardly has been playing the consistent sharp brand of basketball that carried the Golden Bears most of this season. Still, they found a way to get by.Natasha Vital had 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and Cal (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) did enough right when it counted Saturday to hold off Oregon 67-60 in the second round of the Pac-10 tournament."No team's going to come in here and just lay down," said Boyle, Cal's third-year coach. "We've got to be a little headier down the stretch."Devanei Hampton added 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals and Ashley Walker scored 15 despite fighting calf cramps to spark the second-seeded Bears (25-5), who had their best regular season in school history. Hampton, the Pac-10 player of the year last season, shot 7-for-17, missed all but one of her 10 free-throw tries and committed a turnover in crunch time."You have those days," Hampton said. "This game is behind us and tomorrow will be better."Alexis Gray-Lawson made four free throws in the final 14.5 seconds to seal it and finished with 14 points.Cal -- which made 10 of 12 free throws over the final 1:33 -- will play Arizona State in Sunday's first semifinal. The third-seeded Sun Devils defeated Washington 83-64 in an earlier game Saturday. The Bears took both meetings with Arizona State by double digits during the regular season."It's going to be a grudge match," Boyle said. "Everybody knows what everybody's playing for."Taylor Lilley, Oregon's only player averaging in double digits scoring, had 24 points and Kaela Chapdelaine 12 in her final game for the Ducks.Lilley's three-point play with 4:19 left cut Cal's lead to 56-49, then Nicole Canepa scored for the Ducks the next time down to make it a five-point game. Lilley converted another three-point play with 1:33 to go, making it 57-54, and she swished a 3 from the top with 15.4 seconds left to make it a two-point contest."We kept our poise throughout the game, and I kept looking for the open shot, which is what my role is," said Chapdelaine, who fought tears when the game ended. "We could have been a little more aggressive on the offensive end, but we put ourselves in a good position at the end. We just didn't get it done."Oregon (14-17), the No. 7 seed that advanced by beating Washington State on Friday night, had its three-game winning streak ended. The Ducks' previous two games with Cal this season were decided by a combined 28 points. Cal has won eight of its last 10, but lost two of its final three conference games -- to Stanford by two points on Feb. 23 and a 74-66 loss at Washington last weekend. The Bears built a double-digit lead on Rama N'diaye's banked-in 12-footer with 11:43 to play but Chapdelaine answered with a baseline 3 on the other end -- and Cal was hurt by 13-of-28 free-throw shooting despite making the clutch attempts late.The Bears led 31-26 at the break, shooting 46 percent and making four steals.Oregon started the game 0-for-11 with seven turnovers in the opening 9 1/2 minutes as Cal jumped to a 16-0 lead. Canepa's shot barely rolled in at 10:03 for the Ducks' first points, then Oregon used a 15-1 run including 3s by Lilley and Micaela Cocks to get back within 19-17.Oregon coach Bev Smith told her team to chip away, joking that the Ducks didn't have "a 15-point play in our book.""I'm just so proud of this basketball team -- certainly after 10 minutes of the first half, when we finally got some things going offensively," Smith said. "This group has always bounced back and competed. I don't think I've been prouder of an Oregon program than I have been with this one."
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