Lawson, Coakley Post Career Highs in Cal's 80-69 Loss to Arizona

Jan. 7, 2005

TUCSON, Ariz. - California outscored Arizona in the second half but in the end lost 80-69 Friday night at the McKale Center. The Golden Bears fell to 8-6 overall and 2-3 in the Pac-10, while the Wildcats improved to 11-3 (3-1) as they extended the nation's longest home court winning streak to 34.

After leading 5-1, Cal trailed 34-22 at halftime after converting only 4-of-12 shots at the foul line and allowing Arizona to score many of its baskets in transition off of Bear turnovers. The Bears also hit only 32.0 percent from the floor.

'I thought it was a real positive the way we bounced back in the second half,' Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer said. 'We have not been able to do that at Arizona. This was the first time (in awhile) that we've been able to play a good second half at Arizona. We clearly outplayed them in the second half. In the first half, we missed a lot of layups, and we missed a lot of free throws.'

Cal freshman center Jessica Lawson and senior center Khadijah Coakley posted career highs of 19 and 15 points, respectively, and outplayed the Wildcats' posts.

'Jessica and Khadijah both found a way to get the job done in the post,' Horstmeyer said. 'The fact that both of them had career highs says how mentally ready they were.'

Coakley saw limited minutes during her first three years but has worked hard to earn the back-up center spot this season.

'Khadijah has accepted her role,' Horstmeyer said. 'That's an important thing. She's worked on her skills. Coach (Camille) Burkes has done a lot of work with her. Ultimately, when you accept your role and you know it's your last year, you're able to go out and give your best. She's been able to do that. On top of it, last year she had just come off an ACL injury. Tonight, in particular against Arizona, she was on the floor, diving on balls, getting on it, and getting it to teammates. That was the enthusiasm and lift that we needed.'

Cal led 5-1 following an inside move from Coakley, but Arizona's Dee-Dee Wheeler responded with seven points on a 13-3 run to put her team ahead 14-8 with under 12 minutes to play in the first half.

After the Wildcats went ahead 13 at 27-14 with 5:34 left until halftime, Renee Wright scored five straight points for Cal and posted an assist on a basket by Lawson to cut the deficit to 27-21.

Arizona entered the locker room up 34-22 after closing out the half with a 7-1 spurt.

Cal trailed 45-33 but closed to within seven with 14:11 to play (47-40) following a three-point play from Coakley and a fast-break offensive rebound and putback from Jacqueline Sanchez.

The Wildcats were able to rebuild a 13-point lead at 57-44 on a layup by Wheeler, but the Bears rebounded to pull back to within 57-48 with 8:57 left in the game.

Arizona then built its biggest lead of the game at 64-48 following a basket from Wheeler at the 5:41 mark, but Cal hung tough, cutting the gap to nine points five times down the stretch. The Wildcats secured the win by sinking all 10 of their foul shots after the Bears were forced to foul to catch up.

Wheeler led Arizona with 19 points, and Shannon Hobson added 11. Shawntinice Polk, Arizona's first team All-Pac-10 center, made her return off the bench after missing two games with a sprained MCL and posted 10 points in 10 minutes of action.

Cal outscored Arizona, 47-46, in the final 20 minutes and hit 59.3 percent from the field to finish at 46.2 percent. Arizona shot 51.7 percent for the game.

Kiki Williams tallied eight points (2-for-3 on threes), and Kristin Iwanaga posted six points and four assists in their 100th career games at Cal. Leigh Gregory had eight points for the Bears and is eight points shy of becoming Cal's 17th 1,000-point scorer in school history.

Cal looks to get back on track at No. 24 Arizona State (10-4, 3-2) Sunday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

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