Dec. 5, 2001
BERKELEY - The California women's basketball team fell to Bay Area rival San Francisco, 53-52, Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion.
The Golden Bears second-straight loss drops their record to 4-2, while USF improves to 3-3. Cal lost to Georgia, 54-48, last Sunday.
The Bears had won the last four meetings with USF, which last defeated Cal, 68-44, in the 1996-97 season.
Cal built a 15-point lead in the second half, at 46-31, but the Dons pressure defense sparked a 24-6 run. Alicia Hernandez's layup with 15 seconds left gave USF the lead for good, at 53-52. The Dons added two free throws by point guard Toni Russell before Cal's Kiki Williams launched a desperation three-point shot at the buzzer. The shot hit off the backboard and the front of the rim but missed.
"USF flat out outplayed us the last five minutes of the game," Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer said. "I hope this will be a very good learning experience for my team.
"We have been on a roller coaster in terms of getting leads, being down, coming back, not coming back. Today you get a lead and you don't put them away, and they come back, and they beat you. Our defense, which we feel has really been good, was very bad the last five minutes with their penetration to the basket. But a lot of it came after our turnovers - we ended up with 30. That would be our high for the year."
The Bears last points came from two free throws by Nicol Berry at the 4:23 mark.
Cal wasted a strong effort by center Ami Forney, who scored 22 points for the second-straight game and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Forney also scored 22 against Georgia. Cal outrebounded USF, 35-31, and had one of its better games at the free-throw line, where the Bears shot a combined 73.9 percent.
Lindsay Huff, who hit two three-point baskets, led USF with 11 points.
The Bears reached the 46-31 mark when Williams split a pair of free throws with 8:11 left in the game. Forney, who abused the Dons inside all night, took just two more shots, in part because USF began double teaming Forney late in the game. The senior produced a steal, a turnover and two fouls the rest of the way.
"I thought we got extremely tentative offensively, which I haven't seen from this team before," Horstmeyer said.
Cal ended the first half with a 24-19 lead, with Forney leading the way with 11 points. Freshman forward Leigh Gregory scored six of her 11 points in the first 20 minutes. The Bears defense was the story in the first half, forcing the Dons to commit 19 turnovers and shoot just 31.8 percent.
Cal center Olga Volkova, whose playing time is limited by a knee injury, also gave an inspired effort, scoring two points, grabbing three rebounds and nabbing two steals in eight minutes of action in the first half.
The speedy Russell helped force Cal's Kristin Iwanaga into six turnovers. Iwanaga managed to grab three steals, score five points and dish out three assists. But overall, it was a sloppy game for both teams. While Cal had 30 turnovers, USF had 29.
The Bears return to action on Saturday, when they face another Bay Area rival in Saint Mary's at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.