Dec. 18, 2000
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After a 12-day break for finals, California (3-5) visits San Diego State (3-5, play CS Fullerton 12/18), Friday, Dec. 22, for a 7 p.m. contest. The Aztecs lead the series, 3-1, including a win in the last meeting in 1995-96 (82-70). The SDSU game marks the return home of Cal's Becky Staubes and Janet Franey.
The Golden Bears are playing .500 basketball over their last six games. Three of their five losses have been by a combined 11 points, including a 77-73 loss at home to Santa Clara in their last outing on Dec. 10. The Bears, who play seven of 10 non-conference games away from Haas Pavilion, do not return home until Jan. 4 for the Pac-10 opener vs. Arizona.
While defense continues to be Cal's strength, the offense has shown signs of its development under first-year head coach Caren Horstmeyer's system. The Bears are 2-1 in games they have scored at least 70 points this year. Cal also has climbed to first in the league in three-point shooting percentage at .390 after a combined 10-19 (.526) effort vs. USF and Santa Clara. With a scoring defense average of 64.4 ppg, Cal is on-track to post its best average in that category since the 1977-78 season (57.5 ppg).
Senior guard Courtney Johnson sets the tone for Cal offensively and defensively. Johnson leads Cal with a career-best scoring average of 15.9 ppg, which ranks sixth in the Pac-10. The 1999-00 honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick also is in pursuit of her second league steals title, as she currently ranks second at 3.38 spg. She is coming off one of her best overall performances as a Bears, posting a career-high 32 points to go with five steals against SCU.
The Bears have received strong inside play from senior forward Lauren Ashbaugh and junior center Ami Forney. Ashbaugh is second on the Bears in both scoring (10.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.1), while Forney leads the club with 7.9 rpg and is third in scoring at 9.9 ppg. The two are third and seventh, respectively, in the league for rebounding and are the only team with two players among the top seven.