Dec. 8, 2008

Courtesy of Texas Christian

The No. 22 TCU women’s basketball team pulled off its second surprise victory this season over a top-3 team Sunday during an 82-73 victory over No. 3 Cal in the championship game of the Collier’s International Classic at the Bears’ Haas Arena.

The Lady Frogs, who had only a single win over a team ranked as high in program history prior to this campaign, have recorded two in the past month. TCU upended then third-ranked Maryland in the season opener for both teams on Nov. 14.

TCU’s season record improved to 8-2, while Cal’s first loss of 2008-09 dropped the squad to 7-1.

The win snapped the Golden Bears’ 32-game home non-conference winning streak, in addition to ending a five-year championship run in the squad’s home tournament. Cal also became the first-ever top-5 victim to fall to the Frogs on its own home court.

Sophomore Rachel Rentschler scored a career-high 24 points for the Frogs on 9-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range, while adding 10 rebounds for her third double-double in the past four games. Rentshchler totaled 16 of her points in the first half to help TCU to a 2-point advantage at intermission.

Fellow sophomore Helena Sverrisdottir also went for a double-double with 17 points and a game- and career-high 10 assists.  Sverrisdottir became the first TCU player in nearly four years with a double-digit assist total, since former Frog Natasha Lacy dished out 11 on Feb. 13, 2005.

The performances placed both Sverrisdottir and Rentschler on the all-tournament team. Sverrisdottir nabbed tourney MVP honors.

Also hitting double figures in scoring for TCU Sunday were juniors TK LaFleur and Shayla Moore with 13 and 10 points, respectively. LaFleur bounced back from a rough first half in which she shot 0-for-7 from the field by making three second-half 3-pointers. Moore’s effort marked only her second career double-digit performance. She also recorded the feat Saturday vs. Saint Louis.

All-America forward Ashley Walker led Cal with 31 points and 12 boards, while guard Natasha Vital added 21 points.

The Lady Frogs led by two points after a first half in which the squad led for most of the period. Despite the Bears taking back the lead early in the frame, TCU battled in front to grab a nine point-advantage, 61-52, with 10:13 to play. Sverrisdottir (two) and LaFleur combined for three 3-pointers, and freshman Tolu Omotola and Rentschler had back-to-back buckets down low to finish off the run.

Cal came right back with 10 straight points, five of which came from the charity stripe, to regain a one-point advantage, but TCU slowly regained its footing. Leading by one point with under four minutes remaining, the Frogs put together a crucial 7-0 run keyed by a trey from sophomore Emily Carter with 2:52 on the clock.

The Bears would cut their deficit to three points in the final minute, but could creep no closer thanks to perfect free-throw shooting from the Frogs down the stretch.

TCU battled from the opening tip, grabbing a 24-20 lead at the 7:51 mark of the first half after a pair of Rentschler 3-pointers. Rentschler added a free throw and a fadeway jumper along the baseline following a Walker basket in the paint.

TCU led by as many as seven points in the first half with 5:30 remaining at 31-24 until Cal evened the game with three straight baskets capped by a Lauren Greif trey with just over four minutes left. The Frogs managed to jump back on top by six points after a third 3 by Rentschler, followed by the first from Moore.

Several notable stats stood out from the Frogs’ performance, chief among them being only 5 turnovers committed by TCU. The squad outshot Cal by a wide margin (45.0 to 36.5 percent) and hit a season-high 11 shots from 3-point range.

TCU returns to Fort Worth before returning to the road next Sunday, Dec. 14, to take on No. 19 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.

Postgame Notes
No. 22/RV TCU 82, No. 3/3 Cal 73
Berkeley, Calif. (Haas Pavilion)
Dec. 7, 2008

-TCU’s win marked the highest-rated opponent ever defeated on its home court.

-TCU has two wins over top-3 teams this season. The Frogs beat then-No. 3 Maryland, 80-68, on Nov. 14. TCU’s only other win over a top-3 team came against Georgia on Nov. 27, 2004.

-TCU’s matchup with Cal was the first of three straight games against teams current ranked in both major national polls. The Frogs next take on No. 19/17 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., Dec. 14, followed by an in-state matchup with No. 5/4 Texas A&M on Dec. 21 in College Station, Texas.

-TCU ended Cal’s 32-game home non-conference winning streak, as well as its five-year championship run in its own home tournament.

-Rachel Rentschler scored a career-high 24 points, marking her second 20-point effort this season. Her 10 rebounds gave her a double-double for the third time in the last four games.

-Helena Svierrisdottir dished out a career-high 10 assists and became the first Frog with double-digit helpers since Natasha Lacy vs. Depaul (Feb. 13, 2005).

-TCU hit a season-best 11 3-pointers.

-TCU turned the ball over only five times, compared to 10 for the Bears.

-TCU is 3-1 this season against teams that reached last season’s NCAA Tournament.