Cal Hosts Navy in Season Opener Sunday

Nov. 16, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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Coming off a sweep of its two exhibition games and wins in three of its final five games in 2003-04, California opens the 2004-05 season against Navy Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. Fans who bring a ticket stub from Saturday's Cal-Stanford football game will be admitted free to the women's basketball game.

Navy plays at Cal Poly Nov. 19 before travelling to Berkeley. The entire Cal team will sign autographs after Sunday's game.

The Golden Bears return nine letterwinners and three starters from last year's team which opened the season with an 8-2 record - the best program start in 11 years - before finishing the year with a 12-17 record. This year's Cal team features five seniors and six newcomers. The three returning starters are forwards Leigh Gregory and Kiki Williams and point guard Kristin Iwanaga.

Gregory is Cal's top returning scorer (11.5 ppg) and rebounder (4.9 rpg) from last season. Williams averaged 6.4 ppg and 3.4 rpg as a junior, and posted a career-best 22 three-pointers. She missed the first two exhibition games with a sprained ankle but is expected to play against Navy. As a junior, Iwanaga, a regular starter over the last three years with Gregory, averaged 6.9 ppg and 2.4 apg and led the team in three-point shooting (.350, 28-80).

Freshman center Jessica Lawson headlines a talented group of newcomers. Lawson led Cal in scoring during the exhibition games, averaging 12.5 ppg, including 17 points against Baden Sports.

Junior forward ReneƩ Wright came off the bench last season but turned in two strong performances as a starter in Cal's two exhibition games, averaging 12.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg. The biggest surprise sparkplug so far this season has been senior center Khadijah Coakley. After entering her final season averaging 1.2 ppg and 1.4 rpg in limited minutes, Coakley has contributed 11.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg this year and looks confident on the court.

With the added boost from Coakley, Cal showed a great improvement in rebounding during the exhibition slate, averaging 53.0 rpg, compared to 33.3 in 2003-04.

Following the home opener, Cal prepares for the eight-team Rainbow Wahine Classic Thanksgiving Weekend. The Bears begin the tournament against TCU Friday, Nov. 26 at 3:40 p.m. PT.