March 5, 1999
OAKLAND, Ca.- Winning its last four-of-five games in come-from-behind fashion, California overcame a resilient Oregon State squad to capture a 63-58 victory Thursday night at the Kaiser Arena.
Sherrise Smith led California (12-14, 6-11 in the Pac-10) in scoring with 15 points and eight assists while hitting a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. Paige Bowie, on pace to capture her second-consecutive team scoring title, added 13 points and Courtney Johnson chipped in 10. Leander pulled down a team-leading eight boards.
With the twelfth victory, the Bears double their win total over the previous two seasons, and their sixth Pac-10 win is four more then each of their past two campaigns. In addition, both win totals represent the most victories the Bears have enjoyed since the 1992-93 season.
"The most significant thing to me is not that we've doubled our win total (from last season)," said California head coach Marianne Stanley. "What's most important to me is the manner in which we have established this winning stretch. There's no shot for us to make the NCAA tournament, but our kids are playing like there is, and this shows maturity, growth, and pride in what we are doing."
California led by as many as six during the first half, holding an advantage over the Beavers for 10:45 before allowing Oregon State (11-15, 3-14 in the Pac-10) to hit a layup and a pair of free throws to take a 26-23 lead into halftime.
Early in the second half, Oregon State widened its lead to six before Ami Forney drove to the glass off a Smith feed with 9:07 to play in the match, handing the Bears a one point lead at 41-40. They would never trail again.
"We talked during the timeouts about playing smart and sharing the basketball down the stretch," said Stanley. "In the last five or six games, we've gotten the big play when we needed it."
Trailing by just two with 0:59 left on the clock, Oregon State suffered the shooting wrath of Bowie, who took her graceful cue, nailing a 12-foot jumper for a 56-52 lead. Johnson followed on center stage seconds later, draining a clinching three-pointer out of the right corner, good for a five point lead at 59-54 with 0:34 remaining.
"I knew I had to make it because Sherrise always gets on me for missing her assists," said Johnson.
Felicia Ragland led all scoring for Oregon State with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Ericka Brosterhous chipped in 12.
California will play its last game of the regular season, and last in Kaiser Arena, Saturday at 2:00 p.m. against the Oregon Ducks on Senior Day. A win could result in potential consideration by the NIT selection committee.