Hammond leads No. 10 Louisville women past No. 24 California
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Sara Hammond knew there would be some growing pains with a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup.
So far, it looks as if everything is coming along quite nicely for Louisville.
Hammond scored 10 of her 18 points in the second half, and the 10th-ranked Cardinals beat No. 24 California 70-57 on Sunday in a rematch of their 2013 national semifinal.
''It did take some time and we're continuing to grow,'' Hammond said. ''I think this whole first half, each game, we've grown more, matured more, and it's not just physical but mental.''
Shawnta Dyer matched her season best with 12 points for the Cardinals (11-1), who have won three straight since losing at home to No. 13 Kentucky two weeks ago. Jude Schimmel added 11 points, and Mariya Moore had 10.
Moore and fellow freshman Myisha Hines-Allen are the Cardinals' leading scorers, helping to replace the loss of four of last year's top five scorers.
''We don't have that star player who can score 20 every night,'' Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. ''We do have about six players who are capable of scoring 20 on a given night. I'm not sure anyone expected us to be 11-1 going into the Christmas break.''
Reshanda Gray had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears (7-3), who have lost three straight for the first time under coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Brittany Boyd added 11 points, and Gabby Green scored 10.
''Who wants to be on a three-game losing streak? Not me,'' Gottlieb said. ''But there's no question we are going to be better moving forward. We played a lot better today. We just didn't make enough plays to get over the hump.''
The Cardinals beat the Golden Bears 64-57 in the Final Four two years ago, and then lost to Connecticut in the title game.
The rematch also was a close one, with Mercedes Jefflo hitting a 3-pointer early in the second half to help California get within two. The Golden Bears came out pressing and forced five Louisville turnovers in the opening minutes of the second half.
''We weren't as aggressive as we needed to be and we were a little lackadaisical with the ball,'' Walz said. ''We got our composure and made some plays. I thought Jude played a great game, with her demeanor and her leadership skills.''
The Cardinals then scored 14 of the next 19 points to open a 60-49 lead with 9:04 left. Hammond capped the surge with a layup.
''When we face adversity we can't just fold,'' Hammond said. ''We have some young players who aren't used to that. We tell them, `It's OK; now it's our turn.' Jude handled the press.''
Schimmel hit three 3-pointers in the first half, one off her career high. The senior guard also finished with seven assists, against two turnovers, and a career-best nine rebounds.
''For some reason we've taken some hits in the second half,'' said Schimmel, who took it upon herself to dribble through Cal's press. ''We found a way to stop it.''
Megan Deines hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in the first half to help the Cardinals to a 42-34 lead at the break.
Louisville: Hines-Allen and Moore are averaging double figures in scoring. Moore played at Salesian High in Richmond, less than seven miles from Haas Pavilion. ''She's been consistent for us,'' Walz said. ''She plays hard.''
California: Guard Brittany Boyd leads the nation with two triple-doubles this season. Louisville's Bria Smith is one of seven others to record a triple-double. ... California freshman Penina Davidson is a member of the New Zealand national team.
Louisville hosts Evansville on Dec. 29.
California continues its four-game homestand against Old Dominion on Dec. 29.