November 23, 1996
Cal Loses Season Opener, 61-58
Norfolk, VA -- Despite career highs with 23 points and 16 rebounds from sophomore center Jennie Leander, the University of California women's basketball team lost its season opener, 61-58, to Wake Forest in the opening round of the Dial Classic.
The Golden Bears (0-1) move on to play Indiana State (0-1) in the consolation games Sunday at 1 p.m. (EST), while tournament host #9 Old Dominion destroyed Indiana State in the first round, posting a 90- point victory, 116-26.
After rallying back from a 12-point first-half deficit, the Bears held a four-point lead, 56-52, with 4:30 remaining. But Cal missed the front end of three one-and-one free-throw opportunities and Wake Forest came back to tie the game, 58-58, with 1:14 remaining.
The teams traded possessions without scoring, until Wake Forest's Emon McMillian hit a jumper with 29 seconds remaining to give the Demon Deacons a 60-58 advantage. Cal's Patrycja Czepiec missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 24 seconds remaining, and Wake Forest added another free throw to go up 61-58 with 22 seconds remaining. Cal had two chances to tie the game in its final possession, but missed two three-pointers in the final eight seconds.
"We had plenty of chances to win the game, but we didn't make our free throws down the stretch," said first-year Cal head coach Marianne Stanley. "We didn't convert on our opportunities to stretch the lead, and that could have changed the complexion of the game. But no matter whether we win or lose, we are going to work hard so that teams know they have been in a battle. We gave Wake Forest a battle tonight, and we came up just short."
Stanley was making a return to the Old Dominion campus where she coached for 10 seasons (1978-87) and led the Lady Monarchs to three national titles.
For Cal, freshman guard Paige Bowie came off the bench to scored 16 points and grab six rebounds.
Wake Forest was led by the 17 points and nine rebounds of senior center Tracy Connor, and a 10-point,
nine-rebound effort by forward Lindsay Seawright.