Cal Opens Pac-10 Play at Home vs. No. 21 Arizona, ASU

Dec. 24, 2002


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Up Next:      Radio: KALX (90.7 FM) and on	TV: noneFri.	Dec. 27	vs. Arizona	        Berkeley, CA	7:00 p.m.Sun.	Dec. 29	vs. Arizona State	Berkeley, CA	2:00 p.m.


California (3-4) opens the Pac-10 season at home against No. 21 Arizona (6-2) Friday, Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears then entertain Arizona State (8-1) Sunday, Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. At both games, Cal women's basketball trading cards will be distributed to all fans. This weekend, parking is free for fans at the Bancroft/Fulton lot on campus. The Bears look to break a streak of seven consecutive losses in Pac-10 openers dating back to an 87-83 home triumph over Washington State on Jan. 5, 1995. This week's games close out Cal's stretch of nine straight games in the Bay Area. Next week, the Bears begin a four-game road swing, starting with a Jan. 2 tilt vs. Mercer in Macon, Ga.

Depth should be an asset for Cal in both games this week, as 11 players average at least 11 minutes and only two starters average as much as 29 minutes. For Arizona, one starter averages 29 minutes, while the others average 32 or 33 minutes per outing. For ASU, every starter averages at least 28 minutes.

Cal is coming off a 71-64 road setback to Saint Mary's on Dec. 21. After battling back from a 13-point second half deficit and grabbing the lead three times, the Gaels secured the victory in the closing minutes from the free throw line. Guard Nihan Anaz paced the Bears with a season-high 12 points, all coming in the second half. Forwards Leigh Gregory and Jacqueline Sanchez each added 10 points.

Center Timea Ivanyi paces Cal at 10.3 ppg and is second in rebounding at 4.3 rpg. Three other starters hover close to double-figure points - point guard Kristin Iwanaga (9.9), Gregory (9.6, 4.6 rpg) and Anaz (9.5).

Improving the offense has been a focal point for the Bears this season. It's going to take some time for the newcomers to click with the veterans, but there are some signs of improvement. After averaging 56.8 ppg last season, Cal is averaging 59.7 ppg this year.

While the team works on its offense, the defense remains one of the best in the Pac-10. Cal ranks third in the conference for scoring defense at 59.3 ppg after ranking in the top four in that category the last four years.

The Bears' top performers off their deep bench include forward Kiki Williams (5.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg), forward Renee Wright (4.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and guard LaTasha O'Keith (3.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg). Point guard Sarah Pool leads the team in assists with 20 (2.9 pg).

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