Jan. 29, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. - California led by 12 points in the second half but ended up losing to Washington State, 64-59, Thursday night at Haas Pavilion in the Golden Bears' first home game since teammate Alisa Lewis died of bacterial meningitis on Jan. 19.
"The character of the team is outstanding," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. "These are incredibly good, resilient hard-working kids. This is extremely difficult to keep losing games. This one will affect them very hard. It was hard to bounce back after the UCLA game. We have to find a way when we get a 10-point lead to build on that lead, which we did early in the year. If someone got close, we just kicked it in. We did that at Washington State (Jan. 4)."
Close games are unfortunately a common theme this season. The Golden Bears (9-10, 2-8 Pac-10) are 3-7 in contests decided by 10 points or less, five of those setbacks coming during the team's current six-game losing streak.
Senior guard Nihan Anaz led the Bears with 18 points tonight. Junior forward Leigh Gregory added 14 points and tallied team highs for rebounds (6) and steals (4). Junior guard Kristin Iwanaga matched her career high of seven assists.
Cal led 34-28 at halftime on the strength of 50 percent field goal shooting and built its biggest lead of the game at 42-30 with 15:12 to play. The Cougars dug their way back to 44-44 about five minutes later, and the Bears surged back to a seven-point edge at the 8:44 mark on a fast break layup from Anaz.
After that, the Bears became tentative with their shots for the rest of the game, allowing the Cougars to go up 59-51 with 3:03 to play. A basket by Anaz ended a more than seven-minute Cal scoring drought and cut the deficit to 59-53. The Bears got as close as four points with 33 ticks remaining but ran out of time to regain the lead.
"As coaches, we have to figure out what to say to our team," said Horstmeyer, whose team shot 35.3 percent in the second half. "We know exactly what's happening. They want to win. They're getting tight. They're missing shots because they don't want to miss. That's probably the toughest thing."
Bianca McCall led Washington State (5-14, 1-9 Pac-10) to its first conference win of the season with 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Lindsey Egeland and Charmaine Jones each posted 10 points.
Rebounding and free throw shooting contributed to the Cougars' win. WSU held a 38-22 advantage on the glass and converted 16-of-21 free throws to Cal's 5-of-6. The six free throw attempts were a season low for the Bears.
The Bears forced the Cougars into 19 turnovers, while they committed a season low of 11.
Cal looks to regroup against Washington on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.