Dec. 29, 2004
CORVALLIS, Ore. - California won its first Pac-10 game of the 2004-05 season with a 77-71 victory over Oregon State Wednesday night at Gill Coliseum. The Golden Bears improve to 7-4 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-10, while the Beavers drop to 4-7 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
"This was a test of character for us tonight," Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer said. "Our pride was a little bruised after the Oregon game (81-50 loss). For us, this was a really important game. Our players showed their true character. This is a good win for us. This was good for us to win on the road. We needed that."
Senior forward Leigh Gregory led Cal with 21 points and shot 8-for-10 from the field. Cal senior forward Kiki Williams recorded her first career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Senior guard Kristin Iwanaga - the national leader for three-point and free throw percentages - added 12 points, making 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. With eight seconds left in the game, she missed the front end of a one-and-one, ending her streak of 26 straight free throw makes with her second miss of the year.
Cal led 11-4 less than four minutes into the game behind six points from Williams. After Oregon State cut the score to 11-8, Williams responded with a three-pointer to put the Bears back up six and start a 9-3 Cal run.
Renee Wright put Cal ahead 20-11 with a jumper with 11:04 left in the first half. The Beavers answered with a 10-3 spurt, keyed by five points from Mandy Close, who paced the Beavers with 21 points, to pull to within 23-21 with under six minutes to go. Iwanaga's second three-pointer, a rebound basket from Gregory and a free throw from Jacqueline Sanchez put Cal up eight. A trey from Wright sent the Bears into the locker room ahead 34-28.
Oregon State opened the second half with an 8-2 run to tie the score at 36-36 and took its first lead of the game at 40-38 on a basket from Melanie Casey.
With the help of three-pointers from Iwanaga and Williams, Cal went on a 13-4 run to pull ahead 51-44 with 12:20 remaining in the game.
Gregory took over during the final eight minutes, posting 10 straight points to help Cal grab its biggest lead of the game at 67-57 with 4:18 on the clock. Casey Bunn tallied five of her 11 points and Close added two to bring the Beavers to within 67-64 with 2:13 to play.
"They were coming at us pretty hard offensively," Gregory said. "It was important for us not to back down. Coach kept telling us to attack, so that's what we did."
Wright, who led all Cal reserves with nine points, hit a critical shot in the key with the shot clock expiring to put Cal back up 69-64, and the Bears were able to seal their first road win of the season at the free throw line. Sarah Pool was 5-for-6 and Iwanaga was 3-for-4 down the stretch.
Pool helped limit Oregon State's leading scorer, Shannon Howell, to only four points on 2-for-13 shooting from the floor. Howell entered the game as one of the nation's top scorers at 20.4 ppg.
"I thought Sarah Pool did an outstanding job on Shannon Howell," Horstmeyer said. "Obviously, she is a focus. She is an extremely talented player. It was important for us that we contained her."
Other keys to the game were Cal hitting 49.0 percent of its attempts from the field and committing only 15 turnovers.
Cal hosts Washington Sunday, Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. in its Pac-10 home opener at Haas Pavilion.