Feb. 17, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Looking to build some momentum heading into the Pac-10 Tournament, California (9-14, 2-12, 9th) hosts UCLA (14-10, 9-6, 5th) Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and USC (14-9, 11-4, 2nd) Sat., Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. in its final two home games of the 2003-04 season. All youth and senior citizens will be admitted free to the USC contest. After this weekend, the Golden Bears wrap up the regular season at Oregon State Feb. 26 and at Oregon Feb. 28. The Ducks are the Bears' projected opponent in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament March 5 in San Jose, Calif.
Since the Jan. 19 death of junior forward Alisa Lewis to bacterial meningitis, what seemed like a harmless three-game losing streak has been extended to 10 with a 61-53 setback at No. 11 Stanford on Valentines Day. Seven of those losses have been by 10 points or less and six have been by eight points or less. Cal began the year at 8-2.
After Saturday's contest against USC, Cal will honor its three seniors - guards Nihan Anaz and LaTasha O'Keith and center Olga Volkova. O'Keith, who starred at Narbonne High School, is the only one of the trio who has played four years in Berkeley. Anaz is finishing her second season at Cal after competing one year at South Carolina in the SEC and one year at Weatherford College (JC) in Texas. Volkova is in her third season as a Bear after spending two years at Merritt College in Oakland.
This is the third time in the last four years that Senior Day - the final home game - has fallen against USC. The Bears are 1-1 at home against USC during that stretch. Behind 14 points from then-senior Timea Ivanyi, the Bears defeated the Trojans, 60-50, in the 2002-03 home finale.
Anaz leads Cal in scoring at 15.0 ppg and looks to rebound from an off-day at Stanford last weekend. She took only four shots and scored no points for the first time in her Cal career. Junior forward Leigh Gregory is second on the team at 11.2 ppg and has been playing well, posting double-figure points in four of her last six games.
The Bears' bench is showing signs of its early season form. At Stanford, freshman guard Keanna Levy tallied a collegiate-best seven points in 12 minutes of action. Leading all reserves at 19.0 mpg, Volkova is second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 rpg.
Rebounding is a point of emphasis for the Bears, who have been outrebounded in 11 of 14 Pac-10 games, including seven in a row. Gregory paces the club at 5.0 rpg.