8:00 PM ET, December 7, 2008
California's sloppy performance ends its school-record winning streak
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Texas Christian had a plan to get Ashley Walker off her game: collapse inside and make California shoot from the perimeter.Walker still hit her jumpers. The rest of her team had a hard time.Rachel Rentschler scored 16 of her career-high 24 points in the first half and also grabbed 10 rebounds, and TCU (No. 22 AP) handed third-ranked Cal its first loss of the season with a hard-fought 82-73 victory in the championship game of the Colliers International Classic on Sunday."I wasn't going to get many touches in the block because they sag in there," said Walker, the Pac-10's leading scorer. "We needed our guards to step up and knock down some shots."Walker had 31 points -- one off her career high -- and 12 rebounds, reaching the 30-point mark for the third time this season, but it wasn't enough for Cal in this sloppy performance. The Golden Bears (7-1) saw their school-record 33-game home nonconference winning streak end after allowing their most points since an 87-75 loss to rival Stanford on Jan. 14, 2006."She's the best I've seen inside this year," TCU coach Jeff Mittie said of Walker, who went 11-for-19 from the floor. "We made them shoot 3s."Tournament MVP Helena Sverrisdottir added 17 points and a career-best 10 assists and TK LaFleur 13 points and six rebounds for the Lady Frogs (8-2), who avenged a 74-55 loss to Cal at home in Fort Worth last season.TCU bounced back after a tough defeat Friday at Fresno State to beat Princeton on Friday and then pull off this upset. The Lady Frogs, who already beat Maryland, which was ranked No. 3 by AP at the time, to open the season, celebrated by dancing at midcourt after the final buzzer sounded.Natasha Vital added a career-high 21 points and seven rebounds for Cal, scoring on a putback with 45.7 seconds to play to pull her team within 76-73. The Golden Bears pressed full court and quickly fouled Shayla Moore, who made both free throws at 38.2 then two more with 22.5 to go.Cal struggled to get in sync during the first half, having a tough time creating shots on offense against TCU's stingy defense and giving up key baskets on the other end. TCU came in wanting to constantly mix up its defense to keep the Bears off balance.Sverrisdottir and LaFleur hit back-to-back 3-pointers for TCU during an 8-0 spurt that gave their team a 52-46 lead early in the second half, but Walker responded with four straight points for Cal. The Lady Frogs led 61-52 before Cal answered with a 10-0 run.Cal caught a break when the TCU bench was whistled for a technical foul with 8:30 to play. Walker made both free throws, then Alexis Gray-Lawson hit two more as the Bears took a 62-61 lead. But the Bears couldn't do enough right late.It didn't help that Kelsey Adrian was off -- as in 1-for-9 from 3-point range as Cal shot 7-of-27 from long distance."Shooting 7-for-27 from 3, it's hard to win many ballgames. You've got to find other ways to win, and that's what we didn't do," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said. "We definitely had breakdowns. They responded well. I don't think anybody's afraid of us."Now, Boyle's Bears must respond in a hurry to get ready for another tough stretch -- they play No. 6 Oklahoma next weekend and then 10th-ranked Baylor before the conference season begins early next month.Devanei Hampton, the 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year, played 16 minutes in her fifth game back after recovering from knee surgery but was 0-for-3 with two points and one rebound. Her minutes are gradually increasing. She played 17 minutes in Saturday's 75-53 rout of Princeton but still hasn't returned to the starting lineup."We need to get Dev back. We need to get her to a different place for her to play major minutes in games like this," Boyle said.Rama N'diaye, meanwhile, could make her season debut as soon as next weekend at the Basketball By the Bay event in San Jose or perhaps not until the Baylor game on Dec. 22. The 6-foot-5 N'diaye is coming back from right knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the team's first-round NCAA victory over San Diego last March.Rentschler scored TCU's first nine points during an 11-2 run that put the Lady Frogs ahead 29-22 with 6:28 remaining in the first half. Casey Morris scored off a steal in the closing seconds of the half to pull Cal within 39-37 at the break.
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