Hopefully Cal Women's basketball fans are already following the excellent Pac-10 coverage coming from swishappeal.com. But in case you're not, we're here to
steal their great work bring it to you! Without further ado, here's a collection of quotes, pictures and links. Big, big hat tip to Q McCall for providing all of us Cal fans with coach and player quotes along with his game analysis, and a special thanks to "Joe the Swish Appeal Photographer" for sharing his excellent work with CGB. To thank them, each and every one of you are honor bound to click every link!
In case you missed it, Cal defeated Washington 75-68 in overtime. Read more from the following sources:
Swish Appeal's Cal UW preview
Swish Appeal's post game reactions and stats analysis
Swish Appeal asks - was this Gray-Lawson's best game ever?
Swish Appeal's photography
Hit the jump to look back at one of the most exciting Pac-10 games of the season!
Lexi started the game hot with 14 of Cal's first 16 points and added a number of offensive rebounds. She was all over the court! Tia Jackson on Gray-Lawson:
"But when you're playing an All-American like Alexis she can at any moment take control of the game and make contested 25-footers. I would love to say they were wide open, but they were not. It's a hard way to go down."
But she picked up 2 fouls in quick succession and was relegated to the bench. Cal would need other scorers to step up.
That role was filled by Layshia Clarendon, who ended up contributing 14 points with a variety of drives, jumpers and tough 3 pointers. Meanwhile, Washington took the lead and maintained it well into the 2nd half.
Much of Washington's success in the late 1st half/early 2nd half came from the play of Regina Rogers, who made some nice moves in the post and did a good job of using the glass to score 12 and pull down 5 boards. Luckily for Cal, she struggled with foul trouble and eventually fouled out and only played 22 minutes total. Washington also did an excellent job breaking Cal's press, a major focal point for UW coach Tia Jackson:
"It was a 17-point spread at their place but this was one that got away from us there, so we wanted to prove that we were not that team," said Jackson. "I think for the most part we did that -- we wanted to pay them back a little bit. I think we handled their pressure a little bit, we had a couple hiccups, but I think we handled their pressure a lot better. I don't think we had 30 turnovers and they did the exact same thing the did [in the last game]. So much improved there, much improved on the rebounding end and we just needed this game -- we need this game bad and I think we deserved it."
Eliza Pierre was her usual pesky self, bothering Washington's guards and collecting 3 steals. On this particular play I was at first upset that she was called for the foul diving for the lose ball. Then I took off my homer glasses and realized that cutting out Kristi Kingma's legs is probably against the rules. I still love the hustle, though. Joanne Boyle had this to say about Cal's foul troubles:
"Just tonight -- just down a big -- I thought we needed to press a little bit earlier and they just got too excited and they were just trying to take the game from the first 5 or 10 minutes of the game," said Boyle. "We got too over-anxious with fouling and putting them on the free throw line and then we make it a game that way. So we just gotta be smart about that kind of play."
Then on a shot that looked a lot like this one, Lexi hurt her ankle and had to leave for about two minutes of game time to get it taped up. In her brief post-game interview with Cal's radio crew she said her shin hit against her defender and caused her to come down awkwardly. On replays it was unclear if the injury was sustained on the way up or only upon hitting the ground. In any case, she would get back in time for the furious finish:
"[It was] painful, but my teammates would do it for me, so I gotta do it for them," said Gray-Lawson, who walked out of the locker room aided by a friend. "My coach expects a lot of me and she taught me how to take pain. It is what it is sometimes."
Kristi Kingma (#10), had already hit two 3's earlier, but she found Washington's leading scorer Sami Whitcomb in the corner for the buzzer beater 3 to tie it up. This game was too good to be confined to 40 minutes anyway! Alexis Gray-Lawson had this to say about the game-tying shot:
"Clearly it was hard for me to move laterally, so I was trying to chase her as fast as I possibly could, and she made a good shot," said Gray-Lawson of the play. "You have to respect that - she's a good shooter and I kinda knew she was going to make it anyway. So I was just trying to just trying to stay focused and come back on the court and just make shots."
But in the end Lexi couldn't be denied. Washington's coach, Tia Jackson:
I don't know what went wrong. An All-American went to war, that's what happened. I think we were all there, right? The kid was unreal. She was shooting on double teams, she was shooting against a 6'4" [defender] -- it was ridiculous. So, I mean, it's tough to stop.
It’s kinda like I remember coaching in the Final Four at Duke and Toliver shoots over Allie Bales off her back [foot] going backwards. And you could go ‘What went wrong?’ It didn’t go wrong, that kid just hit a tough shot. So there’s nothing wrong.
And Cal coach Joanne Boyle:
"Lexi's been a big time player and she shows up when we need her in big games," said Boyle. "And tonight was one of those nights where we had to have points and we weren't getting them in other ways. And she really starts to read that as the game goes on and knows when she needs to just kinda take over games."
I'll give Q McCall the last word, because I think he summed it up best:
Perhaps Gray-Lawson's performance was not historically special in the sense that neither record books were re-written nor championship trophies secured. It wasn't even necessarily the outcome or the points scored that made the game particularly special. In reflecting on the game, what's most striking is that game circumstances might have robbed us from an even gaudier performance. Even more remarkable is the fact that despite the circumstances, it was arguably the best performance of her career and definitely what could be described as a defining performance for the All-American.
It was a beautiful performance wrapped in a beautiful narrative.