Jan. 13, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS After losing its last three home games by a combined nine points, California (9-6, 2-4 Pac-10, 7th) looks to end a three-game homestand on a high note against No. 7 Stanford (13-2, 6-0, 1st) Friday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. This week's game marks the first time since 1992-93 that Cal and Stanford have played each other with both teams sporting a winning record. Friday is "Take A Kid to the Game" night at Cal - one kid will be admitted free with one paid adult general admission - and IKON Faculty-Staff free day, as well.
Cal's bench will receive a lift against Stanford with the return of sophomore forward Renee Wright (3.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 52.0 FG%) to the lineup. Wright missed the last six games with an illness but returned to practice this week.
The Bears won their first seven games at home this season, including a 61-57 triumph over then-No. 22 Oregon for their first conference opening win in eight years. Since then at home, Cal has held second-half leads only to lose to Oregon State, 70-67, Arizona, 70-68, and Arizona State, 56-52.
Even with some recent bad luck at home, Cal is still off to its best start in 11 seasons through 15 games. The 1992-93 Bears were 11-4 through the same number of contests.
Behind a Pac-10 best 46.3 percent field goal percentage, Cal ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 68.5 ppg, an improvement of 10.9 ppg from last season. The Bears are fourth for scoring defense at 61.9 ppg, which puts them on track to rank among the top five in the conference in that category for the sixth consecutive season.
Cal features the two most improved players in the Pac-10 in terms of scoring. Senior guard LaTasha O'Keith averaged 3.3 ppg in 2002-03 as an infrequently used reserve and has upped that mark to 10.7 ppg as a starter this year. She is third on the team in scoring and ranks 16th in the Pac-10. As a junior, guard Nihan Anaz led the Bears in scoring at 10.1 ppg, and she has continued to do so this year as a senior with the fifth-best scoring average in the conference at 17.1 ppg.
Anaz also leads Cal on the defensive end with 36 steals, which equals her total from a year ago. At 2.4 per game, the product of Istanbul, Turkey, stands fifth in the conference. Center Olga Volkova, Cal's other senior, is also having her best season to date at 4.9 ppg and 4.7 rpg off the bench. Against Arizona, she grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and followed that effort with nine against Arizona State. Junior forward Leigh Gregory leads the Bears in rebounding at 5.9 rpg and is second in scoring at 11.4 ppg.