And while the mass substitutions may have prevented the Bears from throttling the Spartans early (San Jose State went on a 10-4 run to end the first half and pull within 14), Cal's 10-woman rotation on Friday may prove to be the difference in its top-ten matchup with No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday night.
In a game where six Bears saw 20 minutes of action or more, Ashley Walker needed just 18 to score 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.
In fact, sophomore Kelsey Adrian—who poured in a career-high 15 points in 30 minutes of play—was the only Cal starter to garner more than 24 minutes, as guards Natasha Vital (who played nearly 40 minutes in the loss to TCU), Lauren Greif and Alexis Gray-Lawson saw just 20, 24 and 22 minutes, respectively.
The much-needed rest should prove beneficial when the Bears face the Sooners, a team that routinely goes 10 deep on a nightly basis.
But while Oklahoma can find scoring from just about anyone on the court—as was evident when reserve Nyeshia Stevenson scored a career-high 23 points against CSU Bakersfield Friday—no doubt Cal will have a majority of its focus on Courtney and Ashley Paris, one of the country's top post duos.
That said, the most important minutes played against the Spartans may have been the 15 by Devanei Hampton, who finally seemed to catch a bit of rhythm in the second half.
As much of a scoring boost as Adrian is capable of, one wonders how effective the 6-foot-1 guard/forward will be defending the 6-foot-3 Ashley Paris—or, in an extreme case, the 6-foot-5, all-world Courtney Paris.
When asked if Hampton would play more against Oklahoma then she has since her return, the Bears' coaching staff wouldn't give a definitive answer, but in a post-game interview, assistant coach Kevin Morrison did say, "Probably."
If Hampton does in fact see a major increase in time, Saturday night's game could turn into a battle of who can knock down more shots from the perimeter—an area that Cal's guards have had noticeably more success than the Sooners.
©Copyright 2008, CalSportsDigest.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.