Cal Hosts Nevada, Canisius Looking For Best Start in 11 Years

Dec. 15, 2003

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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After a 12-day break for final exams and equaling its best start in four years, California (5-2, 0-0 Pac-10) hosts Nevada (1-6, 0-0 WAC) on Friday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m., and Canisius (2-3, 0-2 MAAC) on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.

Cal currently sports an RPI as high as No. 28 based on the College Basketball News report. The same service had Cal ranked No. 168 in the final ranking last season.

The Golden Bears are in the middle of a six-game homestand, which concludes with their Pac-10 home opening weekend against Oregon (Dec. 27) and Oregon State (Dec. 29). The game with the Ducks is a national game on Fox Sports Net.

Prior to finals, Cal claimed its own Oakland Tribune Classic title for the first time since 1998 with victories over Miami (OH), 81-72, in the first round and Tulane, 66-61, in the title game.

With victories over Nevada and Canisius this weekend, the Bears would post a 6-0 non-conference record at home, their first undefeated non-conference mark since 1998-99 (6-0) and their best start since 1992-93 (8-1).

Cal has jump-started its offense this season. After ranking ninth in the Pac-10 for scoring in 2002-03 at 57.6 ppg, this year's squad is third at 73.3 ppg. The Bears are averaging 76.6 ppg in their five wins and are beating opponents by an average of 17.6 ppg.

Senior guard Nihan Anaz leads Cal's offense at 17.1 ppg, which is fourth in the Pac-10 and on pace to be the most in school history since Eliza Sokolowska averaged 18.8 ppg during the 1994-95 season. Junior forward Leigh Gregory also is averaging a career-best 12.7 ppg (10th Pac-10) and joined Anaz on the Oakland Tribune Classic all-tournament team. Gregory paces the Bears in rebounding at 6.4 ppg (9th P10). Junior point guard Kristin Iwanaga also is having her best year at 9.7 ppg (18th P10).

Off the bench, senior center Olga Volkova (5.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg), junior guard/forward Jacqueline Sanchez (5.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and forward Renee Wright (3.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg) are the team's top contributors.

Four players have swiped at least 10 steals this year with Anaz leading the pack with 16 -- seventh in the conference at 2.3 per game.

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