November 18, 1998
OAKLAND - What California needed most out of Tuesday night's season opener with visiting University of the Pacific was a win, some good looks at the net, and a strong first step into the 1998-99 campaign.
That's exactly what they got in a 66-58 victory over the Tigers.
Sophomore guard Courtney Johnson carried the Bears as much as any one player could, scoring a career high 17 points to lead California (6-for-9), and picking the Tiger's pocket all night, tallying four steals.
Maybe Johnson should think of every night as an opening night. Her previous career point total (12) was set in last season's victorious opener against Cal Poly, as was her career steal mark (5).
Aside from earning that all-important first win of the season, Cal also pumped up its series record against Pacific to 21-2, gathering a little payback for last year's 63-64 loss to the Tigers in Stockton.
"People could look at the box score and say it's just Cal and Pacific," said California Head Coach Marianne Stanley, "but Cal is a team to be reckoned with. Pacific will do some damage in their conference as well."
California has now won an impressive 19-straight home openers, beginning all the way back with the 1980-81 season.
Taking care of business behind Johnson, senior center Jennie Leander added 15 points of her own, crashing the boards 12 times in the process, and chalking up the game's only double-double. Leander pumped in eight in the first half to spark numerous Cal offensive charges.
It should be no surprise that Johnson was right in the thick of California's decisive push with 3:08 remaining in the first half, assisting sophomore guard Kenya Corley's 15-foot jumper to open up a 12 point Bear lead.
In the ensuing play, Johnson would steal the ball away from Pacific's freshman guard Selena Ho, run down the floor, giveaway the ball to Corley, and then take an assist right back from Corley for a clean break layup to drive home a 14 point California lead.
Pacific would never recover, but managed to threaten late in the game, cutting the Bears' lead to as little as five with 2:26 lingering on the clock.
The Tigers were led in scoring by Ho, with 19 points, and junior forward Martha Yarbrough (14). Junior guard Eden Palacio added 10 points, shooting only 3-for-18 from the floor.
California hits the road to face Virginia on Nov. 28th and Ohio State on Nov. 30th before returning home to do battle with cross-Bay foe University of San Francisco Dec. 4th at 7:30 p.m.