Jan. 23, 2004
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Southern California defeated California 67-47 Friday night in the Golden Bears' first game since reserve Alisa Lewis died earlier this week.
There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Lewis, who died Monday of bacterial meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord.
Lewis died hours after complaining of a severe headache, rash and flulike symptoms. Cal's players decided to go ahead with their road trip after getting reassurances from Lewis' parents.
During the national anthem, Cal's players and staff stood shoulder-to-shoulder across the court holding hands.
Cal players wore small black square patches on the front of their jerseys with AL 31 in pink, Lewis' favorite color. The team's coaches and staff wore pink ribbons with Alisa #31 on them.
The game notes were dedicated "in loving memory to Alisa Marie Lewis," and her career and season highs were highlighted in a box.
The Golden Bears (9-8, 2-6 Pac-10) never challenged the Trojans in losing their fourth straight. They shot 17 percent from the floor in the first half, committed 22 turnovers and trailed 30-10 at the break.
Cal's point total was its lowest this season. The Bears hadn't scored less than 50 points since they had 35 against Stanford last March. Nihan Anaz scored 14 points.
USC (9-7, 6-2) was led by Rometra Craig with 19 points.
Lewis, a 20-year-old junior forward, played in 10 of the Bears' 16 games before her death. She averaged 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds. She started six games during her first two years.
About 1,000 people attended Lewis' memorial service Thursday in Berkeley, including Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and Washington coach June Daugherty. The Cal athletic department has established a women's basketball scholarship in Lewis' name.
In Cal's media guide, Lewis listed her favorite inspirational quote: "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."
Lewis' death was the second brush with tragedy for USC's team. Last season, Washington's Kayla Burt nearly died days before the Huskies traveled to Los Angeles for a game against the Trojans.
Burt's heart stopped beating and teammates kept her alive with CPR until help arrived. She was diagnosed with a rare electrical disorder that causes heartbeat irregularities and was forced to end her career.
- Cal tied its season high of 30 turnovers but also forced USC into 29 turnovers.
- Nihan Anaz has led Cal in scoring in 14 of 17 games this season and has posted double-digit points in all but one game this season.
- Cal got as close as 14 points with 5:33 to play in the game.
"The first half was a struggle. The second half you saw more of our team."
"We were just pressing. It's a situation where you want to go out and win for Alisa. There's a lot of pressure they put on themselves. They needed to relax a little bit. We're missing layups. We're doing things we don't normally do. I don't think the players hesitated in the second half. They just went out and played."
"It was very difficult. The reason why our team decided to play today was because we knew that it would be hard (whenever). We knew that we had to go forward and play today. If we would have stayed home and played on Sunday, I still think it would have been hard, too. It's something you have to get through. It was very hard. I kept thinking about her while I was on the court."
"When we got into the locker room (after the game), we all thought 'we got through it.' Not that UCLA is going to be a lot easier, but we got through our first game. It's just going to take time."
"Alisa would have wanted us to play. We went out there and did our best. We played hard. That's what she always did. I think we did what she wanted us to do."
"The second half felt better. Like coach said, you're trying so hard, but you can't really help what your body feels and what your emotions are. In the second half, we were able to focus a lot more and kind of get back in our rhythm. That's the hardest thing right now, getting back in a routine and rhythm of our normal daily life. The second half was just one step of helping us get back into the routine of basketball."