Cal Loses Season Opener to Rutgers 56-49 at Home
Nov. 24, 2002
Newcomer Timea Ivanyi paced California with 17 points and seven rebounds but the Golden Bears lost to Rutgers, 56-49, in their season and home opener Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. The loss snaps Cal's 22-game winning streak in home openers.
'This was not one we wanted to drop today,' Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer said. 'Our team was very well prepared. They came out with some good intensity, and I think that we did some very good things. But we didn't close, and that's where Rutgers stepped up in a couple of different ways. Some of our turnovers and giving up a critical three-point shot - and with our defense that's something we focus on not doing - we gave it up at a critical time.'
Cal, whose record falls to 0-1, stayed close to the Scarlet Knights (1-1) throughout, tying the game several times in the second half, including at 37-37 with 11 minutes remaining. Rutgers guard Mauri Horton hit a big three, the one Horstmeyer referred to, to make the score 52-45. After a Cal timeout, the Bears committed a turnover that led to a fastbreak layup by Chelsea Newton that gave Rutgers the biggest lead of the game at 54-45.
Amber White led Cal with nine assists and three steals, including one with 1:37 remaining. But, Cal couldn't convert a basket at the other end of the court.
With 19 seconds left in the game and a chance to cut the lead to three, Ivanyi missed an eight-footer and Horton grabbed the board. This was Ivanyi's only missed field goal of the game, as she was 8-of-9 from the floor.
Horton led Rutgers with a game-high 23 points, including nine points in the last 5:57. Her two free throws with six seconds left provided the final score.
Cal forward Leigh Gregory scored 14 points, including a team-high 10 in the first half. Horstmeyer started a big lineup with one guard (Kristin Iwanaga), three forwards (Gregory, White and Lewis) and one center (Ivanyi) to counter the three-guard lineup of the Knights. Cal's size made an immediate impact, with Ivanyi converting a layup 22 seconds into the game. But the Hungarian center picked up two fouls at the 7:58 mark and sat out much of the rest of the half.
In the first half, Gregory scored on a couple of short shots, a three pointer and three free throws. She also led the Bears with four first-half rebounds. Cal freshman Renee Wright scored all five of her points in the first half.
Forward Michelle Campbell had nine first-half points to lead Rutgers to a 26-21 halftime lead.
Campbell began the second stanza with a free throw to push the lead to 27-21. But Cal went on a 12-4 run, keyed by six points from Ivanyi, to take the lead at 33-31.
It was a short-lived lead, as 23 seconds later the Knights tied the game with a bucket by Horton. Cal later tied the score at 35-35 on two free throws by Kiki Williams and at 37-37 with a layup by Ivanyi, but Rutgers pulled away down the stretch.
Cal outrebounded Rutgers, 27-26. The Bears had 18 turnovers to the Scarlet Knights' 17.
'We've been up around 20 or 24 (turnovers),' said Horstmeyer. 'My ideal number of turnovers would be around 15. I can live with 18 depending on the types of turnovers. If it's the type of team that's forcing turnovers and you end up with 18, okay. But if they're not forced, then I think it's important.
'But one thing that you're seeing a lot more of, we had 16 assists on 19 baskets. You have not seen that from our teams in the last two years. Ultimately, there are more passes and we're passing better. We just have to be a little bit smarter on the perimeter about not throwing away passes that are unforced.'
Cal resumes play on Friday, Nov. 29 with a home game against Syracuse at Haas Pavilion. Game time is 7 p.m.