Cal Rings in New Year at Mercer, Georgia

Dec. 30, 2002


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Up Next:      Radio: KALX (90.7 FM) and on	TV: noneThu.	Jan. 2	at Mercer   Porter Gym, Macon, GA	   4:00 p.m.  PTSat.	Jan. 4	at Georgia  Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, GA  11:30 a.m. PT

Coming off a 72-67 victory over last year's Pac-10 Tournament champion Arizona State, California (4-5, 1-1 Pac-10) travels to Mercer (0-8) on Thursday, Jan. 2 and to Georgia (6-4) on Saturday, Jan. 4. The Golden Bears close out the non-conference portion of their schedule with their first games outside of the Bay Area this season.

Close games are a regular occurrence for the Bears, which are 2-3 this year in games decided by 10 points or less.

The victory over the Sun Devils established several milestones for the Bears, including earliest Pac-10 triumph since they also opened the 1997-98 conference slate 1-1, first victory over ASU since the 1999-00 season and Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer's first win over her former assistant at Santa Clara, Charli Turner Thorne, who is now at the helm at ASU.

Sophomore forward Leigh Gregory leads a rejuvenated Cal offense in scoring (10.2 ppg) and rebounding (4.6 rpg). She has been the Bears' most consistent player this season, posting double-figure points in seven of nine games.

Cal has many other capable scorers on this year's squad as depth is one of the team's strong points. Twelve players average at least 10 minutes per contest, and five of them have led or tied for team-high scoring honors in at least one game.

Junior guard Nihan Anaz and junior center Timea Ivanyi, both starters, are Cal's next highest scorers at 9.8 and 9.1 ppg, respectively. Off the bench, sophomore guard/forward Jacqueline Sanchez (5.4 ppg), sophomore forward Kiki Williams (5.0 ppg) and junior guard LaTasha O'Keith (5.0 ppg) have been the most explosive. O'Keith is coming off a career-high 18 points in the ASU game.

Cal's offense is up from 56.8 ppg last season to 60.3 ppg this year. The Bears' defense ranks among the Pac-10's best as it regularly does at 62.8 ppg, but there are areas, such as opponents' field goal percentages (45.3 on the year), which Horstmeyer feels need work. Gregory's hard work over the summer is also paying off on the defensive end, as she leads Cal with 13 steals after posting 21 as a freshman.

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