Jan. 8, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. - Arizona's Dee-Dee Wheeler hit a left-handed layup with five seconds left on the clock to defeat California, 70-68, Thursday night at Haas Pavilion.
"You saw a great game with high intensity where there had to be a winner and there had to be a loser, and unfortunately Arizona ended up on top, and we ended up not winning that game," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer.
The Golden Bears (9-5, 2-3 Pac-10) trailed 68-63 with 53 seconds left in the game and refused to give up. Guard Nihan Anaz hit a jumper in the key with 35 seconds to play to cut the deficit to three. Fellow senior guard LaTasha O'Keith stole the inbounds pass from Wheeler and fed Anaz for a three-pointer to bring the Bears even at 68-68 with 28 seconds remaining.
Wheeler kept the ball for the Wildcats' (12-3, 4-0) final possession and converted on the layup with five ticks on the clock.
"The disappointment is giving up a layup on the last shot," said Horstmeyer. "Make them take a perimeter shot. That was exactly what we didn't want to do. They executed it fairly well."
The Bears hustled down court and were given one more chance to tie the game with two seconds to go when Anaz was fouled by Natalie Jones. Unfortunately, Anaz missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Wheeler came away with the decisive board.
Anaz and O'Keith combined to lead Cal for the second straight game. After posting a combined 50 points in the Bears' win over the Cougars, Anaz poured in 24 tonight, and O'Keith matched her career high of 20.
Cal raced to an 8-0 lead - its biggest of the game - in the first three minutes behind eight points from Anaz. The Bears led for the entire first half and went into the locker room up 32-31.
The Wildcats had control of the first five minutes of the second half, mounting their biggest lead of the game at 46-37. Cal mounted a 10-0 run over the next nine minutes, keyed by four points from Anaz and one of O'Keith's four treys to grab a 59-54 edge.
"What I'm happy with is that they jumped on us at the beginning of the second half, and we bounced right back," said Horstmeyer.
Wheeler had eight of her 24 points, including two threes, in the final six minutes to help the Wildcats secure their 17th-straight victory over the Bears. Tonight's game was the closest Cal has played Arizona during that stretch.
Center Olga Volkova grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to help the Bears secure a 38-37 edge on the glass. Arizona's Shawntinice Polk had 9 points and 14 rebounds. Also scoring in double figures for the Wildcats were Aimee Grzyb with 19 and Natalie Jones with 12.
Cal looks to rebound against Arizona State on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.