Dec. 23, 2003
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Off to its best start in 11 years at 7-2, California opens the Pac-10 season at home against No. 22 Oregon (8-2, 0-0 Pac-10) on Saturday, Dec. 27 at noon on Fox Sports Net. Youth and senior citizens will be admitted for $1, and the first 250 youth will receive a free camera. The Pac-10 opening weekend wraps up against Oregon State (6-3, 0-0 Pac-10) on Monday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
Junior starting forward Kiki Williams (6.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) returns to the lineup after missing the last two contests due to a treatment on her ongoing neck injury.
The last time Cal won its Pac-10 opener was during the 1995-96 season when it defeated Washington State at home, 87-83.
The Golden Bears' 6-0 home record in the preseason is their first perfect non-conference record since they also posted a 6-0 mark in 1998-99. Following victories over Nevada (62-51) and Canisius (65-45), Cal is in the midst of a four-game winning streak for the first time in two years.
Cal has installed a new offense this season which proved effective during the non-conference slate. After averaging 57.1 ppg last year, the Bears are pouring in 71.1 ppg in 2003-04, which ranks third in the Pac-10. Their field goal percentage has climbed from ninth in the conference at 37.8 in 2002-03 to first in 2003-04 at 47.5.
Their scoring defense, which has been in the upper-half of the Pac-10 for five straight years, ranks fifth this year at 60.0 ppg after holding Canisius to an opponent low of 45.
Senior guard Nihan Anaz leads Cal's offense and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 at 15.6 ppg and is fifth in the conference for steals at 2.33 spg (21 total). Junior forward Leigh Gregory also is having a career year at 12.7 ppg and 5.7 rpg. The Pleasant Hill, Calif., product is third in the league in field goal percentage at 59.2 percent.
Junior point guard Kristin Iwanaga is having her best season to date, as well, at 9.3 ppg and 3.1 apg. Senior LaTasha O'Keith has returned to the starting lineup this year and is coming off a game-high 15 points in the Canisius win.
Overall, seven Cal players are averaging at least five points per game, and five athletes have swiped at least 11 steals, propelling the Bears to the conference lead in that category at 11.89 per game.