Dec. 22, 1997
Bears (4-5) Host #10 Virginia (7-1)Sun. Dec. 28
VIRGINIA, Kaiser Arena (4,685), Oakland, CA
BEARS HOST CAVALIERS: The California women's basketball team (4-5) returns from a one-week holiday break to host the 10th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (7-1) at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28. The Cavaliers are the Bears first Top 25 ranked opponent of the season, and Virginia is returning to the hardwood for the first time since a Dec. 8 victory over Mt. St. Mary's. The Virgina game will conclude's Cal non-conference portion of the schedule.
ABOUT VIRGINIA: Virginia, 7-1 and ranked 10th nationally this season, has an established reputation as one of the most successful teams in women's basketball, evidenced by their 14 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament and an even more impressive string of 11 straight appearances in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Last season, the Cavaliers posted a 23-8 season and were eliminated by Stanford in the NCAA West Regionals in Montana. Under the direction of head coach Debbie Ryan, now in her 21st season, the Cavaliers have averaged 26 wins per year since the 1983-84 season. The Cavaliers are coming off a lengthy three-week layoff, with their most recent game a 63-37 romp over Mt. St. Mary's (MD) at home on Dec. 8. Virginia's only loss of the season was a 84-65 setback at Georgia Tech, while they have posted wins over William and Mary, Kent, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth and St. Francis. Junior forward DeMya Walker is one of the top players in the country, earning preseason All-America honors by Street & Smith. She is among the national leaders in field goal percentage (57.5%) and blocked shots, rejecting nearly four shots per game. Walker leads the Cavaliers in scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), while senior guard Mimi McKinney ranks second in scoring with 13.1 ppg. Sophomore guard Renee Robinson, a teammate of Cal's Kobie Kennon at Palo Alto's Sacred Heart Prep, leads the team in assists (3.4 apg) and steals (2.6 spg).
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the first meeting ever between California and Virginia on the hardwood, however both head coaches are certainly not unfamiliar with each other. During Marianne Stanley's 10-year reign at Old Dominion, she posted a 10-3 record against Debbie Ryan's Virginia Cavaliers. In addition, Ryan guided Virginia to a 71-52 win over USC during Stanley's third year at the helm of the Trojans program.
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM: In a season already full of last-minute cliffhangers, sophomore Paige Bowie has developed into the Bears go-to player. In the Bears two one-point losses, Bowie came up short on game-winning shots. But given a third chance, Bowie came up big, hitting a three-point basket with three seconds remaining in double overtime to give Cal a thrilling 70-69 victory in the first round of the Oakland Tribune Classic.
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 five contests decided by a three-point margin or less (2-3 record in those games). The Bears have suffered three of their losses by a grand total of five points: 64-63 loss to UOP, 59-58 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay, and 62-59 loss to Saint Mary's. The Bears one-point victories came at USF (62-61) and at home against George Mason in double overtime (70-69).
BEAR BITS: Senior Amber Lacey, the Bears leading scorer (11.6 ppg) and rebounder (7.3 rpg), is just one of four Cal starters averaging in double figures scoring this season. Freshman point guard Masa Radovic has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 10.8 points and 3.8 assists per game, while sophomore forward Bowie is right behind with 10.6 points per game. Junior center Jennie Leander rounds out the quartet of double-figure scorers (10.4 ppg) and ranks second on the team in rebounding (6.7 rpg).
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. Cal does not go on the road again this season until a Jan. 16-18 trip to UCLA and USC.
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 every Pac-10 defensive category, 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 4.7 rebounds per game this year. Head coach Marianne Stanley's squad has limited the opponents to just 40.1 percent field goal shooting, which ranks third in the Pac-10, and the Bears are allowing just 65.1 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 12-for-79 from three-point land (.152) 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. Junior Jennie Leander posted her first double-double of the year with a 13-point, 15-rebound performance in the double OT win against George Mason.
PAC-10 OPENER: The Bears open the 1998 Pac-10 season at home against Oregon on Fri. Jan. 2 at 7:30 p.m., followed by Oregon Stateon Sunday, Jan. 4 at 3:00 p.m. The OSU game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net as the Pac-10 Conference game of the week, and will air locally on Fox Sports Bay Area (formerly Sportschannel).
GAMES 8-9: The Bears are coming off a rollercoaster weekend at their own Oakland Tribune Classic Dec. 19-20, which resulted in a second place trophy. Sophomore Paige Bowie provided a heroic finish to the Bears first round game against George Mason, as she nailed a three-pointer with three seconds left in double overtime to give Cal a 70-69 victory. Bowie wound up with a season-high 16 points, while freshman center Lauren Ashbaugh came off the bench to grab a career-high 13 rebounds and seven points.Riding the thrill of victory into the championship game of the Classic against Ohio State, the Bears opened up the title game with a 10-0 run, before the Buckeyes rallied back to take a one-point half-time lead. The teams stayed close throughout the second half, before Ohio State pulled away with a 14-4 run in the game's final three minutes to post an 85-72 win. Junior center Jennie Leander was named to the All-Tournament team for the second straight year, as she scored 33 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the two games. She was joined on the all-tourney team by senior forward Amber Lacey, who scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the championship game.
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.
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.