Dec. 15, 1997
Bears (3-4) Host 21st Annual Oakland Tribune Classic
Oakland Tribune Classic
Fri. Dec. 19
Ohio State vs. Howard 5:30 p.m.
George Mason vs. California 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 20
Consolation Championship 5:30 p.m.
Championship Game 7:30 p.m.
OAKLAND TRIBUNE CLASSIC: The California women's basketball team (3-4) returns to action after a two-week layoff for final exams to host the 21st Annual Oakland Tribune Classic Dec. 19-20. The first round features Ohio State (4-2) taking on 1997 NCAA tournament team Howard (3-2) on Friday at 5:30 p.m., while Cal (3-4) will host George Mason (2-3) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winners move on to the championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with the consolation game slated for Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
TOURNEY HISTORY: This marks the 21st playing of the Oakland Tribune Classic, also known as the Golden Bear Classic from 1978-81. Many of the finest teams in college basketball have participated in this tournament, including Texas Tech, Washington, Colorado, USF, Duke, Penn State, Michigan State and Southern Mississippi, to name just a few. The host Golden Bears have won the tournament 10 times, including five of the last six years. Last year, Michigan State snapped Cal's streak of success, defeating the Bears in the title game, 93-62, while UC Irvine defeated Tennessee Tech for third place, 78-67. This will be the first Oakland Tribune Classic appearance for all three of this year's visiting teams - Ohio State, George Mason and Howard. The first round pairings will match teams that have never faced each other before, and in fact, only George Mason and Howard have ever met on the hardwood.
ABOUT GEORGE MASON: The George Mason Patriots are 2-3 on the season, and will host St. Francis (PA) on Dec. 17 before heading to California. George Mason has victories this season over Seton Hall (80-67) and Morgan State (58-37), and losses to St. Joseph's (67-53), Georgetown (81-56) and #1 Tennessee (93-61). The Patriots return three starters off last year's team that finished 15-12. Senior guard Krista Jay is the team's leading scorer (15.8 ppg), while sophomore center Trish Halpin leads the team in rebounding (6.8 rpg).
ABOUT OHIO STATE: The Ohio State Buckeyes are 4-2 this season before playing at West Virginia Dec. 16. The Buckeyes opened the season with four straight wins over St. Bonaventure (71-60), Houston (78-69), Xavier (77-63) and Massachusetts (59-56) in November, before losing to Kentucky (68-51) and Kansas State (67-64) in December. Ohio State returns six letterwinners and three starters off last year's squad that posted a 12-16 record and finished last in the Big 10 Conference. Forwards Larecha Jones (17.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Marrita Porter (15.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg) provide a potent 1-2 punch for the Buckeyes, while guard Jamie Lewis is averaging 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
ABOUT HOWARD: The Howard Lady Bison come into the tournament with a 3-2 record, claiming victories over Marshall (67-64), Maryland-East Shore (58-56) and Mississippi Valley (78-61) and losses against North Carolina State (70-50) and Maryland (59-48). Howard is coming off its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, falling to Stanford in the first round last season. The Lady Bison finished with a 24-6 record in 1996-97, including a 23-game winning streak, and won their second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title. Three-time all-conference forward Alisah Hill led the NCAA in field goal percentage last season (66%), and leads the team in scoring (19.2 ppg), rebounding (12.2 rpg) and steals (2.0 spg) this season.
CLOSE CALLS: The Golden Bears struggled to stay competitive last season, playing in only two games that were decided by three points or less. This season, however, Cal has battled to the end in nearly every game, with four contests decided by a three-point margin or less (1-3 record in those games). The Bears have suffered three of their four losses by a grand total of five points: 64-63 loss to UOP, 59-58 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay, 62-61 win over USF, 62-59 loss to Saint Mary's.
ROAD WARRIORS: After going 0-13 away from home last year, and winless in the last 17 games on the road, Cal has won two consecutive games away from home. The Bears 62-61 victory at USF Dec. 3 was the first true road win (on an opponents home court) since Feb. 24, 1996, when Cal defeated Washington State in Pullman, 91-83. The Bears 66-59 victory over Marshall University at the Rainbow Wahine Classic technically counts as a neutral victory, rather than a road win.
DEFENSE WINS GAMES: The Bears are showing a marked improvement in several statistical areas this season, particularly on defense. Last year, Cal ranked at or near the bottom of the Pac-10 defensive categories, but this year they are among the best in the league. The Bears have improved from last in rebounding margin (-4.6) to fourth, outrebounding their opponents by 4.4 rebounds per game this year. Head coach Marianne Stanley's squad has limited the opponents to just 38.5 percent field goal shooting, which ranks third in the Pac-10, and the Bears are allowing just 61.7 points per game (third in the conference), a considerable improvement over last season's 72.3 points per game yield.
BACK-TO-BACK: With consecutive wins over Marshall Nov. 30 and USF Dec. 3, the Bears won back-to-back games for the first time since winning three consecutive games early last season (Dec. 7-20, 1996), all at home. Cal won back-to-back games only once last year, once during the 1995-96 season and just twice in the 1994-95 season. In addition, the wins over USF and Marshall are the first back-to-back wins away from home for the Bears since March, 1993.
THE THREE IS GONE: When the Bears went 0-for-4 from three-point range against Wisconsin-Green Bay Nov. 29, it snapped a streak of 53 consecutive games with at least one three-pointer made. The streak spanned nearly two years, beginning Dec. 8, 1995. The Bears are just 7-for-57 from three-point land (.123) this season, after averaging five three-pointers made per game and shooting 29 percent from long range last season.
DOUBLE FUN: Senior forward Amber Lacey, a transfer from Alabama, has two double-doubles this season, putting up 19 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Cal Poly SLO in her first game at Cal, and scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the loss at Hawaii. A starer in every game for the Bears thus far, Lacey recorded just one double-double at Alabama in 32 games, all off the bench.
GAME 6: The Bears defense denied USF in the final 21 seconds to hold on for a 62-61 victory Dec. 3 at USF's Memorial Gym. Cal's Masa Radovic erased a one-point USF lead by driving uncontested to the basket for a layin with 0:21 remaining to give Cal a 62-61 lead. The Lady Dons brought the ball up the court, called timeout with 0:05 left , and then were unable to get off a shot after the inbounds play, as Jennie Leander knocked away the entry pass in the key and Amber Lacey grabbed the ball as time expired. Radovic scored a career-high 20 points, while Lacey added 12 points and 7 rebounds.
GAMES 3-5: Cal posted a 1-2 record at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, HI, Nov. 28-30. The Bears lost in the first round to host Hawaii, 69-40, and missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer against Wisconsin-Green Bay to fall 59-58. The Bears roared back on the final day to claim a 66-59 win over Marshall University, marking Cal's first road win in nearly two seasons. Sophomore wing Paige Bowie led the Bears with 19 points against UWGB and 16 points against Marshall, while junior center Jennie Leander added 16 points and 8 rebounds against UWGB and 14 points against Marshall. Senior forward Amber Lacey posted her second double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds against Hawaii. Iowa State won the championship with a two-point win over Hawaii, while Alabama claimed third with a win over Indiana.
GAME 2: Cal lost a heartbreaker at UOP on Nov. 24, as Martha Yarbrough sank a short jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining to give UOP a 64-63 victory in Stockton. Freshman Masa Radovic's pair of free throws had given the Bears the lead with 11 seconds left, 63-62, but UOP was able to move the ball up the court and get Yarbrough open for the game-winner. The Bears inbounded the ball and called timeout, but a desperation 3-point attempt by Radovic at the buzzer bounced off the rim. Radovic led the Bears with a career-high 19 points and dished out four assists, while senior Amber Lacey worked the inside for 16 points and five rebounds.
GAME 1: Cal posted a solid 94-58 victory over Cal Poly SLO in the season and home opener on Nov. 20 in Kaiser Arena. The victory marked the Bears 18th consecutive victory in home openers, dating back to the 1980-81 season. Senior Amber Lacey, a transfer from Alabama, led the Bears with a career-high 19 points and 13 rebounds, while freshman Kenya Corley came off the bench to contribute 18 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes. Freshman guard Courtney Johnson made the first start of her career, and responded with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Paige Bowie tossed in 12 points. The Bears shot an outstanding 50 percent from the field for the game (36-for-72), and outrebounded Cal Poly SLO, 51-33.
California Probable Starters Pts Reb Notes
CAL ON THE RADIO: For the 16th consecutive season, KALX (90.7 FM) will broadcast all California games, home and away. Each broadcast begins five minutes prior to tip-off.
CAL ON THE INTERNET: All Cal releases, results, statistics, box scores, schedules and coach and players information, as well as historical data, can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.calbears.com. Stats and results are updated after each game.
BEARS ON TV: Cal will make six television appearances this season: Jan. 4 vs. Oregon State (Fox Sports), Jan. 9 vs. Stanford (Fox Bay Area), Feb. 6 at Stanford (Fox Bay Area), Feb. 12 vs. USC (Fox Bay Area), Feb. 21 at Washington (Fox Sports), Feb. 28 vs. Arizona State (Fox Bay Area).
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA TOYOTA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
NEW HOME COURT The Cal women's basketball team will play its home games for the 1997-98 season in the Kaiser Arena (4,685), part of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in downtown Oakland. The construction of the new $40 million, 12,000-seat Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion has begun on campus, and completion of the project is expected in January, 1999. The Pavilion is named for Walter and Evelyn Haas Jr., who donated a lead gift of $10 million.