Feb. 12, 2001
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After winning six of its last eight games including four straight, the California women's basketball team heads to Stanford (14-7, 8-3, T1st) this week in search of a .500 record. The Bears four-game Pac-10 winning streak is its first since the 1991-92 season. Cal (10-11, 6-5 Pac-10), which was picked to finish eighth and ninth in the preseason Pac-10 polls, also enters this week's lone game in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Arizona and in search of seven conference victories for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
If they haven't already, postseason tournament hopes will likely creep into the Bears minds if they defeat the Cardinal this week. Arizona State earned a bid to the 2000 WNIT after finishing the regular season with a 14-14 mark. In fact, Cal is only two games out of first place in the conference and a shot at an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
Postseason hopes seemed unlikely just five weeks ago when Cal was 4-9 and in last in Pac-10 play with an 0-3 mark.
The Bears four-game winning streak has been keyed by stifling defensive play. Opponents are averaging 57.3 ppg during that stretch, bringing the Bears defensive scoring average down to a five-year low of 64.5 ppg.
Timely second-half offense also has been a key for the Bears as three of their last four wins have come after trailing at the half. Kenya Corley erupted for 21 second-half points in Cal's 72-60 triumph over Oregon State and 19 points after the break in a 68-57 victory over Oregon. The Bears most recent weekend sweep was their first over the Oregon schools since the 1991-92 campaign. The win over two-time defending Pac-10 champion Oregon also broke a 15-game losing streak to the Ducks, dating back to the 1993-94 season.
Corley and fellow senior guard Courtney Johnson, along with junior center Ami Forney, have led Cal to its recent success. Corley leads the Bears in scoring and ranks ninth in the Pac-10 at 13.2 ppg after averaging 20.3 ppg over the last four contests. Johnson is 10th in the league at 13.0 ppg, while Forney is 19th at 10.6 ppg.