California Opens Season with Northwest Sports Exhibition

Nov. 1, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - The California women's basketball team tips off the 2004-05 season at home with an exhibition game versus Northwest Sports Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears play their final exhibition contest at home against the Bay Area Pro-Am Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. Cal hosts Navy in the regular-season opener Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m.

Northwest Sports will play 12 games in 16 days in eight states. The tour opened with an 86-49 loss to Washington Oct. 31. Katrina Crenshaw (Neavada '98) paced the team with 12 points. Northwest Sports battles Utah Nov. 2 before traveling to Berkeley. Northwest Sports features players who graduated from West Coast schools, including Santa Clara's Kendra Rhea ('03) and Tammy Annas ('03) and Washington's Sara Best ('03) and Alicia Heathcote ('03).

The Bears welcome back nine letterwinners and three starters from last year's team which opened with an 8-2 record, the program's best start since 1992-93. After facing the tragic death of teammate Alisa Lewis to bacterial meningitis, Cal won three of its final five games and finished with a 12-17 overall record (4-14 Pac-10). Cal loses starting guards Nihan Anaz (14.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and LaTasha O'Keith (8.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and center Olga Volkova (5.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) from last year's squad. Caren Horstmeyer, the 2004 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, enters her fifth season at the helm in Berkeley.

The Senior Class
This year's Cal team features five seniors, including returning starters Leigh Gregory, Kristin Iwanaga and Kiki Williams who will serve as captains this season. Gregory, a 6-0 forward, is the team's top returning scorer (11.5 ppg) and rebounder (4.9 rpg). The Pleasant Hill, Calif., product recorded double-digit points in 17 games as a junior, including the last five games of the season when she averaged 13.4 ppg. As a junior, Iwanaga averaged 6.9 ppg, 2.4 apg and 2.4 rpg and paced the team in three-pointers made (28) and three-point percentage (.350) for the third consecutive year. The 5-7 guard from Santa Clara, Calif., is Cal's career free throw leader at 86.7 percent. Last season, Williams averaged 6.4 ppg, a career-best 3.4 rpg and sank a career-high 22 three-pointers. The 6-1 forward from San Rafael, Calif., converted 5-of-5 treys in the Bears' 25-point victory (82-57) over Oregon in the first round of the 2004 Pac-10 Tournament.

The other seniors are Jacqueline Sanchez, a 5-8 guard/forward from North Highlands, Calif., and Khadijah Coakley, a 6-1 center from San Diego, Calif. Sanchez contributed 4.2 ppg and 3.2 rpg as one of Cal's top reserves last season. Coakley averaged 1.3 ppg and 0.7 rpg in limited minutes in 2003-04 and hopes to see more playing time this year.

The Newcomers
Cal features six talented newcomers - five freshmen and one junior college transfer - this season. Jessica Lawson, a 6-3 center, led Jones High School in Edgewood, Fla., to the state 4A title as a senior, averaging 20.1 ppg and 17.2 rpg. Krista Foster, a 6-0 forward from Fair Oaks, Calif., will also be looked towards for scoring and rebounding after averaging 25 points and 16 rebounds as a senior at Del Camp High School. Kelly O'Connell, a 5-5 guard from Lakewood, Colo., helped Mullen to a state runner-up finish as a senior, averaging 14.2 ppg, 7.1 apg and 4.3 spg.

The other three newcomers' roles to start the season are to be determined, as they are coming off knee surgeries. Seda Erdogan, a 5-7 guard who hails from Istanbul, Turkey, is a member of her country's junior national team. She is a prolific scorer, pouring in 30 ppg for her junior club team, Besiktas, last season. Erdogan is only 17-years-old and won't celebrate her 18th birthday until Aug. 6, 2005. Brio Rode, a 5-10 guard, was selected the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore and senior at Rio Rancho High School. The Albuquerque product averaged 19 points, six assists and three steals in 2003-04, her fifth prep season as she began playing for Rio Rancho in the eighth grade. Aminata Soumaré, a 6-1 forward, transferred to Cal after playing her freshman and sophomore campaigns at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah. The native of Paris, France, averaged 9.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg as a sophomore before tearing her ACL six games into the season. The Bears hope to have Soumaré ready by the start of the Pac-10 season, while Erdogan and Rode could see action later this month.

Meet the Bears
Fans have the opportunity to get better acquainted with this year's Cal team at the annual Meet the Bears event on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Haas Pavilion. The festivities run from 8 a.m.-noon and include pizza for lunch, watching the Bears practice, a fundamental skills clinic for students 12th grade and under and an autograph/picture session. Cal will practice from 8-10:30 a.m.