Cal Beats Canisius 65-45 for Best Start in 11 Years

Dec. 21, 2003

BERKELEY, Calif. - Senior guard LaTasha O'Keith tied her season high of 15 points as California defeated Canisius, 65-45, Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears conclude the non-conference season with a 7-2 record, their best start since the 1992-93 team was 8-1 through nine games.

'When you're a team that's growing and a team that's building, when you can gain some confidence with wins, that helps your team be successful later,' said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. 'We have been able to gain some confidence.'

The Bears also finished the non-conference season undefeated at home at 6-0 for the first time since 1998-99 when they also were 6-0.

Cal led 38-25 at the half, but Canisius (3-5) cut the deficit to 43-36 at 13:36 following a basket from Jess Steeves. Leigh Gregory then posted two layups and O'Keith drained two straight three-pointers to give Cal a 53-36 advantage with 10:17 to play.

'We started to make some plays defensively,' said Horstmeyer. 'And, we got some boards in transition. Tasha hit two big threes.'

Senior guard Nihan Anaz tallied back-to-back layups to give the Bears their biggest lead of the game at 61-39 with 3:36 left in the game. Anaz finished the game with only eight points, marking the first time all season Cal's leading scorer didn't post double-digit points.

Cal shot 48.2 percent for the game and 55.2 percent in the first half. The Bears have shot over 40 percent from the field in every game this year. Canisius shot only 35.1 percent and recorded the least points of any of Cal's non-conference foes.

O'Keith scored only four points in the first half before igniting the Bears after the break.

'I didn't think Tasha started the game particularly as aggressive as she had,' said Horstmeyer. 'I took her out and talked to her. Then, she went back in and played great. She had two offensive boards early which was motivating for our team. '

Jenel Stevens and Becky Zak led the Golden Griffins with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Kristin Iwanaga and Gregory each had eight points for the Bears. Iwanaga also posted a season-high five assists and no turnovers. The Bears had 20 assists on their 27 field goals.

All 12 dressed players saw action for Cal and 10 of them dented the scoreboard, including reserves Jacqueline Sanchez and Alisa Lewis contributing seven and six points, respectively.

The Bears open the Pac-10 season at home against Oregon on Sunday, Dec. 27 at noon on Fox Sports Net. Horstmeyer addressed the fans after the game on the microphone and encouraged them to return for the nationally televised game.

Regular starting forward Kiki Williams has missed the last two games with a neck injury but is expected to return for the game against the Ducks.

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