Bears Host Saint Mary's, Long Beach State

Dec. 7, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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After winning the inaugural Contra Costa Times Classic, California (3-3) hosts Saint Mary's (4-3) Friday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. and Long Beach State (3-1) Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. looking to extend its nine-game home non-conference winning streak.

Cal athletics hosts its annual 'Come to College Day' against the Gaels on Friday. All youth groups and accompanying adults that register by Dec. 8 will be admitted free. Please call 510-643-0840 to register or print out a registration form on The entire Cal women's basketball team will sign autographs after the SMC game.

The Golden Bears continue to lead the Pac-10 in scoring at 76.3 points per game. Cal's defense has steadily improved to ninth in the conference (68.5 ppg) after allowing each of its last five opponents less points, capped by a 65-41 win over Tennessee Tech in the championship game of the Contra Costa Times Classic.

With the win over Tennessee Tech, Cal claimed its own tournament title in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-95 when they won five straight Oakland Tribune Classic crowns (tournament name from 1991-03).

Cal's top three scorers are all ranked in the top 20 in the Pac-10 in scoring. Leading the way is senior forward Leigh Gregory at 15.2 ppg (6th), followed by freshman center Jessica Lawson (13.5 ppg, 9th) and senior guard Kristin Iwanaga (10.8, 18th). Lawson received the MVP trophy of the Contra Costa Times Classic after averaging 16.0 ppg and 8.5 rpg during the tournament.

Iwanaga leads the Pac-10 and probably the nation in three-point percentage at 80.0 percent (16-20) this year. The NCAA Division 1 record for three-point percentage in a season is 57.5 percent (Heather Donion, Fordham (50-87).

Sparked by the return of redshirt sophomore guard Sarah Pool, Cal is third in the Pac-10 in assists at 18.3 per game after ranking ninth last year at 13.1. Pool is second in the league in assists at 6.8 per game. Junior forward Renee Wright is second on the team in assists at 3.2 per game (19 total) after dishing off only 20 assists all of last season.

Senior forward Kiki Williams (9.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and freshman forward Krista Foster (5.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg) lead a strong effort from the Bears' bench. Williams was picked to the Contra Costa Times Classic all-tournament team.


Cal defeated Cal State Northridge, 77-67, and then Tennessee Tech, 65-41 to claim the inaugural Contra Costa Times Classic title Dec. 4-5 at Haas Pavilion. The Bears have won their tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since claiming five straight Oakland Tribune Classic titles from 1991-95.

Cal 77, Cal State Northridge 67
Against the Matadors, Cal raced to a 22-8 lead with 9:12 left in the first half behind eight points from Jessica Lawson and seven points from Leigh Gregory. Following the first of two three-pointers from Kristin Iwanaga, the Bears built their largest lead at 39-22 with 2:37 remaining in the half. Cal State Northridge closed the half with an 8-2 run to trail 41-30 at the break and pulled to within 54-53 with 8:52 left in the game. Sarah Pool, converted consecutive layups to put the Bears ahead 58-53. Kiki Williams then made two straight steals and two baskets to extend her team's advantage to 62-53 at the 6:26 mark. Cal State Northridge didn't get any closer than five points the rest of the contest. Pool led Cal with 15 points and seven assists, while Lawson added 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds.

Cal 65, Tennessee Tech 41
Tennessee Tech, which is the preseason favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference, scored the first two points of the game, but after that, Cal controlled the contest offensively and defensively. Cal led by as many as 26 points in the first half at 32-6 with 2:47 until halftime and held a 34-11 lead at the break. The Bears led by as many as 35 points on three occasions in the second half. Jessica Lawson was selected the tournament's MVP after posting a career high 18 points and eight rebounds against the Golden Eaglettes and averaging 16.0 ppg and 8.5 rpg in the two games. Kiki Williams also was named to the all-tournament team.

In five of the last six years, Cal has been among the top five in the Pac-10 in scoring defense. But, this season, the Bears' fortunes have reversed early on, as they pace the conference at 76.3 ppg but are ninth in scoringdefense at 68.5 ppg, although that average has steadily improved. Arizona is second in the Pac-10 in scoring at 76.1 ppg. Aiding the increased scoring is improved shooting in all areas. Cal is first in the Pac-10 in three-point percentage (50.7), second in free throw percentage (70.5) and fourth in field goal percentage (47.1). The Bears' current three-point and field goal percentages are on pace to break the school records of 38.7 (1991-92) and 46.8 (1991-92), respectively. In 2003-04, the Bears hit 43.3 percent from floor, 31.1 percent from long range and 67.4 percent from the charity stripe.

Freshman center Jessica Lawson, MVP of the Contra Costa Times Classic, has distinguished herself as one of the top newcomers in the Pac-10 this season. Lawson is second on Cal in scoring at 13.5 ppg (9th Pac-10) and leads Cal in rebounding at 6.0 rpg (T9th Pac-10) while averaging only 18.3 minutes per game as a starter. Her 58.6 field goal percentage places her sixth in the conference, while her 3.0 offensive boards per contest is tied for third. The product of Edgewood, Fla., has the second highest scoring and rebounding averages among freshmen in the conference and the top field goal percentage. Lawson is the first freshman to start at Cal since Leigh Gregory and Kristin Iwanaga did so in 2001-02.

Senior forward Leigh Gregory leads Cal and is ranked sixth in the Pac-10 in scoring at 15.2 ppg. Gregory also ranks ninth in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 56.5. At the Rainbow Wahine Classic Thanksgiving weekend, she arguably recorded her best three consecutive games in a Bear uniform. She scored a career-high 25 points against TCU and averaged 22.0 ppg and shot 69.0 percent from the floor in the tournament. The product of Pleasant Hill, Calif., wasn't highly recruited but has made a name for herself in the Pac-10. As a freshman, she averaged 8.8 ppg and followed that up with averages of 9.2 ppg and 11.5 ppg. Gregory is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder (4.9 rpg) from 2003-04. Sometime this season, Gregory (903 points) will become the 17th 1,000-point scorer in school history.

Senior guard Kristin Iwanaga has converted an eye-popping 80-percent (16-20) of her three point chances this season. She easily leads the Pac-10 in three-point percentage, as Stanford's Kelley Suminski is second at 47.4 (9-19). Iwanaga, a native of Santa Clara, Calif., also leads the conference in three-pointers made (16) and has made five straight. She likely leads the NCAA in three-point percentage, but the first national statistics report hasn't been released yet. The NCAA Division 1 record for three-point percentage in a season is 57.5 percent (Heather Donion, Fordham (50-87). Iwanaga has only made four baskets that weren't three-pointers this year. Overall, she is having a career year, averaging 10.8 ppg (3rd on Cal, 18th Pac-10) and shooting 62.5 percent (3rd Pac-10) from the floor.

Sophomore point guard Sarah Pool is happy to be back this season directing Cal's offense after missing the 2003-04 campaign due to a back injury. Pool didn't play basketball for over a year and spent eight weeks mainly in bed after having a back procedure last November. The native of Central Point, Ore., is second in the Pac-10 in assists at 6.83 per game (41 total), behind Oregon's Corrie Mizusawa (7.80), and is third in assist/TO ratio (2.56). Pool, who is known for no-look passes, dished off a career-high 10 assists against TCU. As a freshman in 2002-03, Pool came off the bench and averaged 2.6 apg (76 total) and had an assist/TO ratio of 1.2, but this year, she starts along side guard Kristin Iwanaga. Both athletes are true points guards, but Pool has handled more of the ball handling duties and has often found Iwanaga for open shots.

Cal has taken better care of the ball over the last four games, averaging 15.8 turnovers per game during that stretch (14, 19, 16, 14), compared to 18.5 per game for the season. The Bears committed 21 and 27 turnovers during their first two games of 2004-05.

Cal set a school record for three-point percentage in a game in back-to-back contests to start the season. After converting 80 percent (8-10) of its attempts against Navy, Cal erased that record by shooting 81.8 percent (9-11) against TCU. Kiki Williams (4-4) and Kristin Iwanaga (3-4) led the way against the Lady Frogs from beyond the arc.

Cal's most experienced seniors - Kristin Iwanaga, Leigh Gregory and Kiki Williams - will serve as captains this season. Iwanaga was a captain as a freshman and a junior, while Gregory earned the distinction as a junior. This marks Williams first year as a team captain. The trio have played a combined 272 games in a Golden Bear uniform.

Cal has signed the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, according to Blue Star Index. Joining the Bears in 2005-06 are Oakland's Devanei Hampton and Alexis Gray-Lawson, El Cerrito's Shantrell Sneed, San Francisco's Jené Morris and Modesto's Ashley Walker. Hampton, Gray-Lawson and Walker are ranked among the Top 50 players nationally in this year's high school senior class by either Blue Star and/or Mike White's All-Star Girls Report. Blue Star has Hampton tabbed No. 10 and Gray-Lawson No. 17, while All-Star Girls Report lists Hampton at No. 15, Gray-Lawson at No. 25 and Walker at No. 48. The NorCal Scouting Report, which ranks players in Northern California, lists Hampton at No. 3, Walker at No. 4, Gray-Lawson at No. 5, Sneed at No. 6 and Morris at No. 7.

Cal hasn't posted a field goal percentage below 40 percent all season...the Bears held Tennessee Tech to a field goal percentage of 30.9 percent, a season low for a Cal opponent, after the Golden Eaglettes entered the game shooting 50.2 percent and averaging 72.2 ppg (only 41 vs. Cal)...Emmelie Geraedts grabbed a career-high five rebounds vs. Tennessee Tech and Khadijah Coakley matched her career high of six boards versus Tech...Cal has outrebounded four of six opponents this year.

- This year's Cal team features players from six states (California, Oregon, New Mexico, Iowa, Colorado and Florida) and two foreign countries (Turkey and France).

- Cal features three international players for the third consecutive season - Emmelie Geraedts (The Netherlands), Seda Erdogan (Turkey) and Aminata Soumaré (France).

- Several Cal players come from large families, including Brio Rode and Aminata Soumaré, who are one of seven children, and Jacqueline Sanchez, who is one of six kids in her family.

- Jessica Lawson has won nine straight oratory titles in Florida, dating back to the fourth grade.

- Sarah Pool says she learned her passing style from watching 'Pistol' Pete Maravich videos.