A good day for California

BERKELEY, Calif - After the Golden Bears beat Vanderbilt 67-59, a large group of fans gathered around the a television at Haas Pavilion to watch CSTV's coverage of the NCAA men's water polo championship game.

Just like the women's basketball team, the men's water polo team also go the win, beating USC 8-5.

Nothing like a national championship to get over losing to Stanford in The BIg Game, right?

Anyway, back to basketball, and Cal was all smiles after the game and most of the praise went to the Contra Costa Times Classic MVP, Rama N'diaye.

The sophomore N'diaye, who hales from Senegal via Japan, had a breakout game, scoring 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three blocks in the win.

Cal best know player, Ashley Walker, told a funny story about how difficult it was N'diaye to adjust to her new country last year.

"In April, after the season was over, Rama came up to me and asked what 'hard work' meant,'" Walker said with a laugh. "But this year she has a lot more confidence and is playing great. I call here Rama Star, because she is a beast out there."

Walker had a good game herself, leading the squad with 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win.

From the outside, the Bears leaned on Alexis Gray-Lawson, who scored 16 points and hit half of her 3-point attempts (3-6).

Coach Joanne Boyle was happy about how her team played (except for free-throw shooting) and thought the win over Vanderbilt was one the biggest of the season.

"Whenever you beat a Top 25 team it's important," Boyle said. "We lost one to Baylor earlier in the year, but getting the win tonight makes a statement to the selection committee."

The faces on Vanderbilt weren't as glowing, as the Commodores only had time to take a few questions before rushing to the airport in hopes of making their flight back to Tennessee.

Playing two games in less than 24 hours looked to have an effect on the Commodores from the press seats, and coach Melanie Balcomb agreed.

"We came out flat and the players that usually hit shots didn't hit shots," Balcomb said. "We didn't start playing well until we didn't have anytihing to lose in the final eight minutes. We needed to play the whole game like that."

Player of the Game: N'diaye was named tournament MVP, but I still think Walker was the most valuable player today. She scored pretty much when she wanted to, but it was her defense that gave them the most trouble.

Play of the Game: Again, I have to go Walker and her block in the first half (look back through my posts to read the details). It showed Vandy, we are bigger, stronger and more physical than you.

Quote of the game: When N'diaye was asked how she felt about being tournament MVP, N'diaye, who is currently learning English and already knows three other languages said, "It feels pretty good, I'm so happy.

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