Nov. 18, 2001
BERKELEY - Forward Kiki Williams came off the bench and led Cal down the stretch, playing tough defense and scoring 15 points en route to Cal's 74-60 opening day win over San Diego at Haas Pavilion Sunday afternoon.
The win was Cal's 22nd-straight home opening victory, while San Diego State fell to 1-1 overall.
The Bears allowed a 19-point lead to evaporate to two in the second half, but survived the scare and rose to the challenge, putting together a 15-2 run, beginning with 7:10 to go in the game, that lasted until the final minute.
"A lot of composure, I thought, down the stretch. That was really important," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. "Every time they score, you answer. If you can answer that, that can give you confidence."
Williams, who led Cal with 7 rebounds and put down five of eight shots in 15 minutes, was part of a balanced offensive attack that saw five Bears score into double digits. Forward Leigh Gregory also scored 15 for the Bears, with point guard Kristin Iwanaga scoring 13. Forward/center Ami Forney added 11 points and LaTasha O'Keith posted 10.
"I give a lot of credit to (Iwanaga)," said Horstmeyer. "She came in and remained composed, and that gave the team a lot of confidence."
The Aztecs were led by guard Claire Swinbank and Atim Otii, who scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Swinbank was 6-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-2 from behind the arc, and pulled down three rebounds. Otii made all six of her shots from the field before fouling out late in the second half. Ashonda Williams highlighted San Diego State's rebounding, grabbing nine, to lead both teams.
Both teams were efficient from the field, with Cal putting away 43 percent of its shots to SDSU's 48 percent. Cal, however, held the rebounding edge, 36-31, and had six fewer fouls than the Aztecs, who had two players foul out late in the game.
Scoring was sparse early on for both teams. Forney scored the first four points, but both teams continued to play tough defense through the first five minutes of the game. The Aztecs eventually broke the scoring drought, running off six uncontested points en route to a six minute 14-3 run, which gave them a seven point lead at the 9:26 mark (14-7). The Bears answered by reeling off 14 straight points in their own six-minute stretch, and closed the first half up by eight (29-21), having scored 22 points to San Diego State's seven.
"We switched to a zone defense, and we went on a 20-1 run, and that not only got us back in the lead, but got us ahead by quite a few points," said Horstmeyer, explaining the Bears' surge to end the first half.
That trend would continue early in the second half with Cal jumping out to a 19-point lead at 48-29 with 14:21 to play. Cal junior forward and top defensive specialist Amber White fouled out with about 11 minutes to play in the game. In yet another rally, the Aztecs pounded out 11 straight on the Bears, putting together a 24-7 run to bring the game within two points (55-53) with seven minutes to go.
"In the second half, we got a big lead," said Horstmeyer. "Everything's going great, and that's where it's still a learning experience for us. How do you get a big lead and continue to build on it? (But) different players made plays. I thought (Forney) really, really did step up.
"We have to play as a team to be successful, and I thought we did that tonight."
"We have a team that never gives up," said Forney. "That's nice to know when you're on the court."
Cal's next game is at Cal Poly on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m.