Women's Basketball Falls to No. 7 Rutgers, 66-47, in Season Opener

Nov. 17, 2000

PISCATATWAY, N.J. - California gave a strong effort but opened the 2000-01 season with a 66-47 loss at seventh-ranked Rutgers Friday night. A crowd of 4,819 fans saw both teams' season openers at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

'You never accept losing,' said first-year Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer. 'I'm proud of the fact that they gave the effort they did all the way down to the end of the game. I thought we did a much better job competing in the second half.'

Senior forward Lauren Ashbaugh led Cal with her fifth double-double of her career with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Courtney Johnson came off the bench to post 11 points and two steals for the Golden Bears despite nursing a torn calf muscle sustained earlier in the week in practice.

'I thought Lauren competed well for the 38 minutes she played,' said Horstmeyer. 'She was a factor and very stable for us. She hit some big shots. We think we have a pretty good post game. We didn't utilize them as much as we would have liked to.'

Tasha Pointer came off the bench to lead Rutgers, a 2000 Final Four team, with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Tammy Sutton-Brown added 10 points.

Both teams didn't take care of the ball with Cal turning the ball over 29 times and Rutgers 20. The Scarlet Knights grabbed 15 steals, some of them coming off their full-court press, which they showed the Bears regularly throughout the game.

'At times, I thought we broke the press very well,' said Horstmeyer. 'I didn't feel our turnovers necessarily came in the press. A lot of them came off our defensive rebounding and then transitioning. We had a lot of turnovers in our transition offense. We said the most important thing in this game was taking care of the basketball. And, we turned it over 29 times. That's a huge, huge difference.'

Cal stuck with Rutgers for most of the contest and never let the Scarlet Knights run away with the game. For most of the first half, the Bears kept the Scarlet Knights lead within 10 points and were within eight points at 27-19 following a Johnson layup with 3:16 until halftime. Five-straight points from Pointer gave Rutgers a 32-19 lead at the half. Cal junior Ami Forney was effective early in the first half, netting four points, but played only seven first half minutes as she was whistled for three fouls.

Rutgers built its lead to 19 points with 11:12 remaining in the game, but Cal stuck with the nationally-ranked team, whittling the lead down to 14 (54-40) following a Forney three-point play with 5:07 on the clock. On Rutgers' next possession with time winding down on the shot clock, Dawn McCullouch swung the momentum back in her team's favor for good by nailing a three-point shot.

Cal's next game is Sunday at Fairfield, the MAAC preseason favorite. Game time is at 2 p.m.

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