Women's Hoops Drops Oakland Tribune Classic Championship To Florida International, 57-51

Dec. 3, 2000

BERKELEY, Calif. - California led only once in the second half of Sunday's Oakland Tribune Classic Championship, dropping the game to Florida International 57-51. Junior center Ami Forney led the Bears with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Down 23-18 at halftime, California (2-4 overall, 0-0 in the Pac-10) challenged the Panthers early in the second frame, capturing a one point lead, 31-30, off a floor shot from freshman guard Latasha O'Keith with 12:11 remaining in the game. Cal lost the lead 57 seconds later and was never able to reclaim it. O'Keith finished the evening with a career-high 10 points and five boards for the Bears. Senior forward Lauren Ashbaugh and senior guard Courtney Johnson rounded out California's leading scorers, each with nine points.

'The problem is that when we get a lead like that we have to know that that's our most important defensive stance on the other end,' said California head coach Caren Horstmeyer. 'Once you get the lead, that next possession is most important. I believe they hit a three right after that, and they came down when Amber White got hurt (ankle), and they hit another three.'

Junior guard Gergana Slavtcheva paced Florida International (4-1 overall, 0-0 in the Sun Belt) with 18 points. The Panthers had four players in double-digits, including sophomore forward Cormisha Cotton's 12 points, junior center Cheryl Moody with 11 and sophomore forward Mandy Shafer adding 10.

Poor shooting in the first half hurt California, as the Bears were only able to knocked down 21 percent of their shots. Things improved some in the second half, with Cal nailing down 41 percent from the floor, but it couldn't keep up with the Panthers' 58 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes, hitting 11-of-19 in that second half.

'I felt our defense was very good at times but they (Florida International) just shot at a good percentage,' said Horstmeyer. 'I thought our problem was that we kept breaking down and leaving someone open and that person that was open kept hitting the shot. Our stats are better in almost every area with the exception of shooting.'

Following the game, the Oakland Tribune Classic All-Tournament team was announced, with Loyola Marymount's Taryn Reynolds, Florida International's Slavtcheva, Cotton, and California's Forney and Johnson being named to the squad. Slavtcheva also earned All-Tournament MVP honors for her exceptional play.

In the tournament's consolation game, Loyola Marymount defeated Cal State Northridge 75-59. Junior guard Bryn Britton ran away with 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Lions, who shot a commanding 49 percent from the floor to move ahead of the Matadors. Senior forward Kristi Rose tallied 18 points for Northridge (2-4 overall, 0-0 in the Big Sky) in the effort. Loyola Marymount (3-2 overall, 0-0 in the WCC) had been trailing 31-30 to the Matadors at halftime.

California returns to action Saturday, Dec. 8, traveling to face San Francisco at 5:15 p.m. in a Fox Sports Bay Area televised contest.

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