Women's Basketball Falls to Alabama, 76-63

Nov. 24, 2000

CHICAGO - Despite a career-high 27 points from senior guard Courtney Johnson, California fell to 0-3 with a 76-63 loss to Alabama in the opening round of the UIC Thanksgiving Tournament Friday night at UIC Pavilion. The Crimson Tide improved to 3-0 with the victory.

Johnson also added two rebounds, two assists and four steals for the Bears. Amber White and Ami Forney shared Cal-high rebounding honors with seven each, but the Bears were outrebounded 39-32. Alabama had four players in double figures, led by Shondra Johnson who led all players with 29 points. Sparkle Johnson posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Beth Vice added 13 points and Joni Crenshaw had 10 points.

Alabama got out of the gate with a 16-5 lead five minutes into the game behind two three-pointers from Beth Vice. Cal then went on a 9-1 run, ignited by a three-pointer from Becky Staubes, cutting the Tide's lead to 17-14 with 11:18 until halftime. The Bears scored another basket and then went about seven minutes without a point as the Tide built its lead to 26-16. Alabama closed out the final three minutes with a 6-5 run to lead 32-21 at the half. The two Johnson's were the leading scorers at the half - Cal's Courtney with 11 and Alabama's Shondra with 14.

Cal started the second half strong, cutting Alabama's lead to 35-29 with 15:51 remaining, but the Tide responded by increasing its lead back up to its halftime lead of 11 at 42-31 over the next two minutes and its biggest lead of the game of 15 at 57-42 with 7:43 on the clock. The Bears then cut the lead to seven points on several occasions, with the last being after a Brook Coulter three-pointer (59-52) at 4:12, but they could get no closer.

'We need to be able to get over the hump and be more mentally tough,' said Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer. 'We've opened the season with three difficult games. We're hoping the tough schedule will pay off comes the Pac-10 season.'

Cal faces the loser of the Illinois-Chicago vs. South Alabama game tomorrow at 1 p.m. The game can be heard live on KALX (90.7 FM).

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