Feb. 8, 2002
EUGENE, Ore. -
Cal (6-16, 1-12 Pac-10) has proven it can play with anyone, but Saturday the Bears look to get over the winning hump at Oregon (12-11, 7-7) at 7 p.m. at McArthur Court. The Ducks will serve as host of the first-ever Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament, March 1-4.
The Bears are coming off a 74-69 overtime road loss to Oregon State. Cal rallied from a 34-24 halftime deficit to send the game to overtime with three Kristin Iwanaga free throws with 4.3 seconds left. But, the Beavers outscored the Bears, 11-6, in overtime to sweep the season series. The game was still a huge improvement for Cal, which lost to OSU, 80-52, at home last month.
Oregon gave No. 2 Stanford all it could handle Thursday but lost, 77-72.
After opening the season 4-0, the Golden Bears have played many close games but have had some growing pains. They are 2-7 in games decided by eight points or less. Second-year head coach Caren Horstmeyer has had to go through almost a second first season. She lost seven seniors from last year's 12-15 (8-10 Pac-10) squad, and this year's team features nine newcomers, including six true freshmen. Two of those freshmen - point guard Iwanaga and power forward Leigh Gregory - have gained valuable experience as regular starters this year.
Last weekend was a costly one injury-wise for Cal. Backup 6-4 center Olga Volkova sustained a bad right ankle sprain in Saturday's morning shoot-around prior to the Stanford game. And in the game, reserve guard Nicol Berry sustained a season-ending ACL tear in her left knee. Cal has had to deal with periodic injuries throughout the season, but none of them were season-ending prior to Berry's.
Senior center Ami Forney, the only returning starter from last year, leads the Bears in scoring (12.2 ppg). She came off the bench vs. OSU and responded with her best game in a month, posting 15 points and 6 rebounds. Redshirt freshman Kiki Williams is playing inspired basketball for the Bears. She has started the last two games for Cal and has responded with a career-high 18 points (Stanford) and 15 points (OSU). Cal's most consistent offensive player over the last month has been sophomore guard LaTasha O'Keith (9.9 ppg), who has scored in double figures in 7 of the last 9 games.