Dec. 29, 1997
Bears (4-6) Open Pac-10 Season at Home Vs. Oregon and Oregon State
Fri. Jan. 2 OREGON (4-3), Kaiser Arena (4,685), Oakland, CA 7:30 p.m. Sun. Jan. 4 OREGON STATE (5-4), Kaiser Arena (4,685), Oakland, CA 3:00 p.m. (Live TV-Fox Sports Net, Pac-10 Game of the Week)
BEARS OPEN PAC-10 PLAY: The California women's basketball team (4-6) opens Pac-10 Conference play this weekend, hosting the Oregon Ducks (4-3) on Friday, Jan. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and the Oregon State Beavers (5-4) on Sunday, Jan. 4 at 3:00 p.m. The Oregon State game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net, as the Pac-10 Game of the Week.
ABOUT OREGON: The Oregon Ducks are 4-3 on the season, prior to a Dec. 29 home game against Kansas. The Ducks have wins over Idaho, Portland State, Washington State and Nevada, and losses to Portland, Western Kentucky and Mississippi State. Last year, Oregon was the Pac-10 runnerup, posting a 14-4 conference record and finishing 22-7 overall. This season, senior guard Natalie Hughes leads the team and ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring (16.0 ppg), while freshman Brianne Meharry ranks 13th in the Pac-10 in scoring (12.9 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (60%).
ABOUT OREGON STATE: The Oregon State Beavers are 5-4 this season, prior to their Pac-10 opener Jan. 2 at Stanford. The Beavers wins have come at home against Northern Arizona and Portland, and on the road against Iowa, Portland State and Seton Hall. Oregon State's four losses have all come on the road, falling to San Diego State, Santa Clara, Fordham and St. Joseph's. Last year, Oregon State finished 7th in the Pac-10 (5-13) and posted a 11-16 overall record. Sophomore Sissel Pierce leads OSU in scoring (12.2 ppg) and ranks third in the Pac-10 in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and second in blocked shots (1.8 bpg).
SERIES RECORDS: Oregon leads the all-time series with Cal, 19-10, including eight straight victories. Cal's last win over the Ducks was March 13, 1993 in Berkeley. Oregon State holds a 19-14 series advantage over Cal, after each team won on its homecourt last season.
LAST YEAR: In last year's Cal-Oregon game in Berkeley (1/18/97), the Bears were down by only two points, 66-64, with 15.9 seconds left, but senior Liz Rizzo's three-point attempt bounced off the rim, Oregon rebounded, was fouled and Lisa Bowyer sank a pair of free throws to seal a 68-64 victory. In Eugene, Cal scored a season-low 42 points to fall to Oregon, 71-42. In last year's Cal-Oregon State game in Berkeley (1/16/97), the Bears posted their second Pac-10 win of the season, 62-57, paced by a season-high 24 points by senior Patrycja Czpeiec. In Corvallis, (2/15/97), Jennie Leander's 25 points were not enough, as Oregon State defeated Cal, 81-67.
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 over George Mason Dec. 19 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 (11.4 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 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 10.5 points and 3.5 assists per game, while sophomore forward Paige Bowie is right behind with 10.4 points per game. Junior center Jennie Leander rounds out the quartet of double-figure scorers (10.0 ppg) and ranks second on the team in rebounding (6.4 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 third, outrebounding their opponents by 4.7 rebounds per game this year. Head coach Marianne Stanley's squad has limited the opponents to just 40.5 percent field goal shooting, which ranks third in the Pac-10, and the Bears are allowing just 66.7 points per game, 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.
PAC-10 STATS: In Pac-10 Conference stats through games of Dec. 28, senior forward Amber Lacey ranks 17th in scoring (11.4 ppg), 8th in rebounding (7.1 rpg) and 10th in field goal percentage (.495). Junior center Jennie Leander ranks 12th in the Pac-10 in rebounding (6.4 prg), while freshman point guard Masa Radovic ranks 10th in assists (3.5 apg). Freshman guard Courtney Johnson ranks 9th in the Pac-10 in steal average (2.1 spg) and a surprising 17th in rebounding (5.5 rpg). Sophomore forward Paige Bowie ranks sixth in the conference in free throw percentage (.800) and 7th in blocked shots (0.8 bpg).
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 16-for-91 from three-point land (.176) in 10 games 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 Dec. 19.
STARTING LINEUPS: The Bears started the same lineup for the first nine games of the season: sophomore Paige Bowie and senior Amber Lacey at forward, junior Jennie Leander at center, and freshmen Masa Radovic and Courtney Johnson at guard. In the Bears Dec. 28 home game against Virginia, junior Sherrise Smith made her first start of the season, in place of Johnson. Last year, Smith started 22 games (of 24 played) at point guard, averaging 5.4 points, 4.0 steals and 1.5 steals per game. This year, Smith is averaging 4.1 points and 1.4 assists per game.
MAKING A POINT: Before arriving at Cal this season, 6-1 freshman Masa Radovic had never played point guard in her career. A member of the Yugoslavian Junior National Team, Radovic was primarily a wing and shooting guard, but once the Cal coaching staff saw her ball-handling skills and court awareness, they quickly moved her to the point. Radovic has started all 10 games for the Bears, dishing out 3.5 assists per game and ranking second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.5 points per game.
NEXT UP: The Bears wrap up their extended seven-game homestand next Friday, Jan. 9 as they host the 17th-ranked Stanford Cardinal at 7:30 p.m. in Kaiser Arena. The game will be televised live by Fox Sports Bay Area, and should be the first sellout for the Cal women in Kaiser Arena (4,685). Reserved tickets for the game are already sold out, with general admission seats available only at the Cal ticket office (1-800-GOBEARS).
GAMES 10: Cal got its first taste of nationally-ranked competition on Dec. 28, as they lost at home to #10 Virginia, 81-66. The lead changed hands four times and was tied seven times in the first half, before Virginia took a 29-25 halftime lead. Cal was down by just one point, 38-37, with 15:07 left in the game, but Virginia went on a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to take a commanding 53-40 lead and coasted to the win. Senior forward Amber Lacey was the only Bear in double figures, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds.
GAMES 8-9: The Bears finished second at their own Oakland Tribune Classic Dec. 19-20. 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.