Dec. 16, 2002
Up Next: Radio: KALX (90.7 FM) and on Calbears.com TV: none
Sat. Dec. 21 at Saint Mary's McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, CA 2:00 p.m.
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After 12 days off for final exams, California returns to action with its first road game of the season at Saint Mary's (3-4) Saturday, Dec. 21. Game time is at 2 p.m. at McKeon Pavilion. Cal, which opened the season 3-3 at home at Haas Pavilion, won't leave the Bay Area until it travels to the state of Georgia New Year's week to take on Mercer (Jan. 2) and the University of Georgia (Jan. 4).
Next week, the Bears tip off the Pac-10 season at home against Arizona (Dec. 27) and Arizona State (Dec. 29).
Look for three-point shooting to be an important weapon in the Cal-Saint Mary's game. The Bears are averaging five treys per game (33.0 percent), while the Gaels are posting 5.1 per contest (31.6). At 38.7 percent field goal shooting, Cal is looking for more consistent shooting overall.
Cal is coming off a 66-47 loss to Colorado Dec. 8 in the championship game of the Oakland Tribune Classic. The Buffaloes, a 2002 NCAA Elite Eight team, contribute to the Bears' strong strength of schedule this season. Cal plays 10 teams which qualified for the postseason last year - five to the NCAAs and five to the WNIT. The Bears already have knocked off Syracuse, an NCAA qualifier, and have recorded two blowout wins over Cal Poly and Penn.
Defense continues to be a mainstay for Cal, which has ranked in the top four in the Pac-10 in scoring defense each of the last four years. Currently, the team is third at 57.3 ppg. The offense is starting to come around, up from 56.8 ppg last year to 59.0.
Junior center Timea Ivanyi and sophomore point guard Kristin Iwanaga are Cal's offensive leaders. Ivanyi leads the team in scoring (11.0 ppg) and rebounding (4.8 rpg), while Iwanaga is second on the club in scoring (10.5 ppg) and first in free throw (.833) and three-point shooting (45.8). Sophomore forward Leigh Gregory has also been an offensive sparkplug at 9.5 ppg.
Depth is one of the Bears' greatest assets this year. All 16 players are slated to dress for the Saint Mary's game, as Rene? Wright returns after missing the Colorado game with a concussion. Twelve players average at least eight minutes per contest with Iwanaga averaging the most minutes at 31.0. The team's depth allows Cal to dictate the tempo of the game.