Dec 1, 2003
LUBBOCK, Texas - California put a scare into fifth-ranked Texas Tech before falling 76-69 Monday night at the United Spirit Arena. The Golden Bears dropped to 3-2 overall but scored the most points so far this season against the Lady Raiders (7-0). Both teams were playing their third game in the last four days.
"Cal is the best team we've played so far this season," said Texas Tech head coach Marsha Sharp, whose team defeated No. 18 UC Santa Barbara, 68-41, and No. 15 Rutgers, 73-45, within the last two weeks.
That's high praise from a hall of fame coach who directed the Lady Raiders to the 1993 NCAA title.
"You saw a good game out there," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. "We feel we took them out of some things and surprised them a little bit with some of the things that we did. But, we didn't have an answer for (Jia) Perkins. Perkins is tough to stop. We tried three different defenders. We finally started to come over and double her, but it was too late. She is a great player who can take that team on her shoulders and take them where they need to go.
"I thought if we could stay close that we could win the game. We stayed close but not close enough."
Four players scored in double figures for the Bears for the first time all season. Senior guard Nihan Anaz and junior forward Leigh Gregory led the way with 17 points each. Senior guard LaTasha O"Keith contributed 12, and senior center Olga Volkova matched her career high with 10 points off the bench and tied Gregory for team-high rebounding honors with eight.
Cal stayed with Texas Tech throughout the entire game. Midway through the second half, the Bears had opportunities to cut the Lady Raiders' lead to three points on back-to-back three-point play opportunities but couldn't convert the awarded free throw. The first time occurred at the 10:22 mark when Anaz cut the deficit to 50-46 and then at 9:48 when Volkova made the score 52-48.
Perkins, a player of the year candidate, took over the game at that point, posting 13 of her team's final 24 points, to finish with a game high of 29. She tallied only six points in the first half. Texas Tech built its biggest lead of the game at 63-51 with 4:31 to play on a basket by Casey Jackson, but the resilient Bears made a final run at the upset. Two free throws from O'Keith with nine ticks on the clock brought the Bears to within five, but that's as close as they could get.
Both teams started the game with torrid shooting percentages, Texas Tech at or above 70 percent and Cal at or above 60 percent. The Bears finished the half at 46.4 percent, and the Lady Raiders at 51.6. Less than four minutes into the contest, Cal grabbed its second one-point lead at 13-12 following a three-point play from Anaz.
The Lady Raiders responded with a 10-3 run to go ahead 22-16 with 13:24 until halftime. A layup by O'Keith brought the Bears to within 20-22 about two minutes later. Texas Tech twice led by eight in the first half, but Cal never let the Big 12 power build a double-digit lead and entered the locker room down 36-32 in front of 10,060 stunned fans.
"We feel good about the way that we played tonight," said Horstmeyer. "We did a good job in the first half of attacking. We played laterally in the second half. Once we started to go to the basket again, then we started to get back on track."
Jackson posted a double-double for Texas Tech with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Natalie Ritchie had 14.
The Bears shot 42.2 percent from the floor, marking the fifth straight game they've eclipsed the 40-percent mark. Cal is only the second team all season to shoot above 33 percent against Texas Tech, which shot 51.7 percent tonight. Unfortunately, Cal entered the game with four straight 70-plus percent efforts from the foul line, but converted only 54.5 percent (12-22) of its opportunities tonight. The Lady Raiders weren't much better at 57.1 percent (12-21).
Cal's pressure defense forced Texas Tech into 19 turnovers, while the Bears had a season low of 16.
Cal returns home from its week-long road trip to host the 13th-annual Oakland Tribune Classic on Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 6-7. The Bears open the tournament on Saturday against Miami (OH) at 3 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.