Dec. 10, 2004
BERKELEY, Calif. - California won its 10th consecutive home non-conference game with a 59-52 triumph over Saint Mary's Friday night at Haas Pavilion. Senior guard Kristin Iwanaga helped the Golden Bears improve to 4-3 by scoring a season-high 18 points, tying her career high of eight rebounds and adding three assists and one steal.
"Saint Mary's played outstanding," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. "A lot of credit to their game plan. We were a little rattled in the first half. The composure of some of our older kids, getting everyone a little more composed, in particular K.I. (Iwanaga) really helped. It was very clear cut. Our second half we played more composed and in control. That's what we want to do. We want to control the tempo."
Senior forward Leigh Gregory added 10 points and seven rebounds for Cal, which held the Gaels to 37.5 percent shooting.
Cal led by as many as six points twice in the first half, including 15-9 following a layup from freshman forward Krista Foster with 10:45 left until halftime. Saint Mary's (4-4) reclaimed the lead at 17-15 on a basket from Brianna Winn.
The first of two three-pointers from Iwanaga gave the Bears an 18-17 edge with 6:18 until the break.
"For K.I. to step up and show the leadership, this is something that I've been looking for for four years in a point guard," Horstmeyer said. "Tonight, it was shown. It's been coming. Tonight it broke out."
Cal entered the locker room with a 26-23 advantage, but the Gaels tied the game at 26-26 with a three-pointer from Carey Noakes to start the second half. Iwanaga countered with her second three-pointer to put Cal back ahead for good. The Santa Clara, Calif., product entered the game leading the NCAA in three-point shooting at 80 percent (16-for-20) and didn't hurt her status by shooting 2-for-2 from long range today. Iwanaga has made her last seven three-point attempts over the last three games.
With 12:45 left in the contest, the Bears built their biggest lead of the game at 41-30 following a layup from Renee Wright, who finished with eight points, off a pass from Iwanaga. Saint Mary's went on a 13-4 run keyed by six of Triola Jackson's team-high 18 points to close to within two points at 45-43 with 6:18 remaining.
A variety of players stepped up in addition to Iwanaga to assure that Cal would post its first victory over Saint Mary's since a 91-80 decision in Moraga during the 1994-95 season. The Bears lead the all-time series, 10-5, but the Gaels had won five in a row.
Sophomore guard Sarah Pool posted five of Cal's next seven points, including the Bears' only other three-pointer of the game, to give her team a 52-45 lead with 4:36 on the clock. Senior center Khadijah Coakley scored a key layup, out of a time out, off a pass from Iwanaga, grabbed two rebounds and blocked a shot.
"K.I. called the play," Horstmeyer said in reference to Iwanaga's last assist to Coakley. "That's what great point guards do."
"I worked a lot in the off season trying to complete my game, offensively and defensively," Iwanaga said. "My teammates are looking to get me the ball when I'm spotting up on the three-point line. They're always looking for me when they're penetrating. "
The Bears tallied their final three points with two free throws from Iwanaga and one from Pool.
"We concur that that was the perfect point guard game," said Pool and Cal freshman guard Kelly O'Connell in reference to Iwanaga.
Coakley tied her career high for points (8) and rebounds (6) and saw a career-high 22 minutes of action as Cal's starting center Jessica Lawson (13.5 ppg entering the game) fouled out after playing only eight minutes (two points, one rebound).
Noakes also posted double-figure points (12) for Saint Mary's, which held Cal - the Pac-10's scoring leader - to a season low for points. However, the Bears' defense continues to improve, holding three of seven opponents under 60 points this season.
Cal continues its five-game home stand against Long Beach State (3-2) Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.