Dec. 17, 2001
After a 13-day break for final exams, California (4-3) looks to snap a three-game losing streak when it opens its Pac-10 Conference slate at Arizona (4-4) Friday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. PT. Cal is 6-9 all-time in Pac-10 openers but have lost six-straight league lid lifters. The Golden Bears then play at Arizona State (9-2) Dec. 23 on a Fox Sports Net Pac-10 game of the week at 10 a.m. PT.
After Cal broke 15-game losing streaks to both Stanford and Oregon last year, Arizona now holds the longest-current league winning streak over the Bears at 12.
Cal has lost its only three games this season by a combined 12 points. The Bears defense has been outstanding through the first seven games of the year, giving up a Pac-10 best 54.9 ppg. The only problem is that after averaging 69.8 ppg over the first four games, the Bears are averaging only 50.0 ppg over the last three contests. Nationally, coach Caren Horstmeyer's troops rank 14th for scoring defense.
Good team defense has been a hallmark of Horstmeyer's teams for years. The unquestionable leader of Cal's defense though is junior forward Amber White. Seven Bears average at least one steal per game with White leading the way at 2.0 per contest.
Senior forward/center Ami Forney has been the overall leader of a young Bears team. She paces the team in scoring (13.6) and rebounding (6.0). Freshman forward Leigh Gregory is also averaging in double figures with 10.9 ppg. However, the Bears will be without her services for 2-4 weeks as she suffered a torn meniscus in her right knee in practice last week.
Sophomore guard LaTasha O'Keith is coming off one of her best offensive games at Cal. She posted a career-high 15 points in the loss to Saint Mary's Dec. 8, shooting 5-of-7 from the floor overall and 3-of-3 from three-point land.
Cal's offense will likely receive a boost this week with the return of freshman shooting guard Jackie Lord. She is probable for her first game action of the season as she has been rehabilitating a torn ACL suffered during her senior season in high school.
Off the bench, freshman guard Nicol Berry has been seeing the most minutes at 15.0 mpg, but Horstmeyer hasn't hesitated to give different players a chance to help spark Cal's struggling offense. For instance, senior guard Janet Franey entered the season with one career point, and she already has 10 this year, including two three-pointers.