Dec. 27, 2003
BERKELEY, Calif. - California defeated No. 22 Oregon, 61-57, Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion for its first Pac-10 season opening win in eight years. The Golden Bears improved to 8-2 overall (1-0 Pac-10), while the Ducks fall to 8-3 (0-1) in front of a season-best 3113 fans.
"We didn't start off very well," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. "You had two nervous teams at the beginning of the game. It was a little bit sloppy, kind of back and forth. We needed to get the nerves out. Once we picked up our defensive intensity, a shot fell, and we started to run. We wanted to get the game fast. Once we settled down and were able to put some points on the board, that gave us some confidence, and we were able to get rolling a little bit."
In 1995-96, Cal defeated Washington State, 87-83, at Harmon Gym in its last conference-opening win. Cal's last ranked win was against Oregon during Horstmeyer's inaugural 2000-01 season. The Bears beat the No. 23 Ducks, 68-57, Feb. 10, 2001, at Haas Pavilion.
The Bears started the game sluggishly, falling behind 20-10 with 6:20 to play in the first half before closing the half with a 16-8 run. Senior guard Nihan Anaz keyed the burst with seven of her 13 first-half points, and freshman Emmelie Geraedts closed the run with four of her season-high seven points in the game.
After trailing at the half (28-26) for only the third time this season, the Bears quickly built a six-point lead less than five minutes into the second stanza and didn't trail for the rest of the game. Junior forward Kiki Williams propelled Cal to a nine-point advantage at 48-39 with 8:00 on the clock with two free throws and a three-pointer.
A three-pointer from LaTasha O'Keith gave the Bears their biggest lead of the game at 53-43 with 4:48 left in the contest.
"They did a good job taking our penetration away early," said Horstmeyer. "We needed to be able to penetrate and kick. Once we were able to do that, we were able to hit threes. Both of those kids (Williams and O'Keith) can hit threes. Early we were a half inch off."
Oregon was forced to foul in the closing two minutes, and Cal converted 6-of-8 attempts, including 4-of-4 from Williams, to secure the win. Williams posted 11 points, including 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. Anaz led the Bears with 17 points.
Paced by a career-high 11 rebounds from Leigh Gregory, Cal held a commanding 43-33 edge on the glass. Cal shot only 37 percent from the floor, which is its lowest of the season and the first time the Bears have had a field goal percentage under 40 percent. Oregon shot only 36.1 percent.
Eleanor Haring led Oregon with 14 points. Brandi Davis added 11 points, and Kedzie Gunderson had 10. The Bears held former Saint Mary's point guard Corrie Mizusawa to five points, five rebounds and four assists. Mizusawa entered the game with a Pac-10 best 7.4 apg.
"For us to beat this team, proves to everyone that we're legit," said Williams. "Being able to prove what we know is true was nice for our program and for me personally."
Cal, which is 7-0 at home, closes out a six-game homestand against Oregon State on Monday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.