Women's Basketball Defeats Cal State Northridge, 75-63, in Opening Round of the Oakland Tribune Classic

Dec. 2, 2000

BERKELEY - California recovered midway through the first half to pull ahead of Cal State Northridge in the Oakland Tribune Classic, defeating the Matadors 75-63. The Bears were paced by senior guard Courtney Johnson's 21 points, seven assists and eight steals, shooting 7-of-15 from the field. Johnson's eight steals tied her career-high and set an Oakland Tribune Classic record.

'I thought this was our best defensive effort of the year,' said California head coach Caren Horstmeyer. 'That's always been a focal point of my teams. I really feel we have some great athletes and can pick up and pressure the ball. I don't know if we've done that as well as we did tonight.'

Having amassed a 37-28 halftime lead, the Bears began a slow slide in the first 10 minutes of the second half, allowing Northridge (2-3 overall, 0-0 in the Big Sky) to take a one point 55-54 lead with 7:59 to play on a three pointer from senior guard LaShaunda Fowler. Northridge would hold a lead only once more in the half, 1:23 later on a jumper from senior forward Kristi Rose, again for a one-point lead, 57-56.

At that point, Cal (2-3 overall, 0-0 in the Pac-10) regained its confidence on the wood, pulling ahead of the Matadors by four, 61-57, with 5:27 remaining in the game with, not surprisingly, Johnson right in the thick of things, contributing a steal, a layup and an assist in a 43-second stretch.

'I thought our defense was the difference in this game,' said Horstmeyer. 'I thought Johnson made some huge defensive plays that made the difference for us down the stretch.'

The Bears lead grew from there, with Johnson contributing seven of Cal's final 12 points over the final three minutes. Sophomore forward Amber While came off the bench to tie her career-high with 11 points for the Bears while junior forward Ami Forney rounded out Cal's leading scorers with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Northridge finished with four players in double-digit scoring, led by Rose's 18 points and 11 rebounds. Fowler added 11 for the Matadors with junior guard Monica Hernandez and junior guard Sha'Tasha Allen contributing 10 points each.

In the tournament's first game, Florida International battled all afternoon in a close back-and-forth joust with Loyola Marymount, eventually defeating the Lions 67-63. Junior guard Gergana Slavtcheva threw down 19 points for the Panthers, advancing Florida International (3-1 overall, 0-0 in the Sun Belt) into the tournament's championship game against California Sunday at 3 p.m. in a game to be televised by Fox Sports Net Bay Area. The Bears will be shooting for their eighth Oakland Tribune Classic title in the last twelve years. Loyola Marymount (2-2 overall, 0-0 in the WCC) was led in scoring by senior guard Taryn Reynolds' 18 points. The Lions will face Northridge in the consolation game to be played at 12:15 p.m.

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