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Bears complete sweep of UCLA

By Ralph Gaston Daily Planet Correspondent
Friday March 02, 2001

After a game in which her team was never close to victory, UCLA head coach Kathy Olivier sat in thought in the press room. Her team had just lost, and her young backcourt had been taken to school by Cal’s experienced guards.  

Her thoughts, however, were on her team’s development. Olivier took some comfort in having her guards play against Cal’s senior backcourt. “I definitely think they can pick some things up from them,” she said. 

Oliver thought back to a time when Cal had young guards, one in particular who has done a lot of growing in the past four years. 

“I remember when Courtney (Johnson) was a freshman in this league,” said Olivier. “She took her bumps and bruises, but she’s turned into a great leader for her team.”  

Needing to win three of their last four games to ensure a .500 record for the season, the Bears wasted little time with cellar-dwelling UCLA. Kenya Corley scored 22 points and Johnson added 17 to lead Cal to a 83-59 victory over an overmatched Bruin squad. 

The win improved the Bears to 12-13 on the season, and 8-7 in the conference. With three conference games left, the Bears are striving for a winning conference record and a possible berth in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. Though Arizona State was granted a berth last season with a .500 overall record, Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer still feels that talk of the postseason is premature. 

“It’s a reality, but we must keep doing what we’re supposed to do,” explained Horstmeyer. “We’re not in the position to talk about it.” 

The Bears jumped on the Bruins almost immediately, scoring the game’s first seven points and opening with a 16-6 run. Corley led the charge with five points, including a three-pointer from the right side. The senior guard was able to create for herself with her quickness and leaping ability all evening.  

“(Corley) is really quick,” said Olivier. “She has a quick first step, and her hang time is just unbelievable.” 

One of the game’s better moments came at 19:39 in the second half, when Johnson sank the second of her two free throws. The shot was Johnson’s 1,000th career point at Cal. As the fact was announced, Johnson’s teammates gave her high-fives, and the crowd gave a warm ovation.  

“The ovation I got was great,” said Johnson. “I was really excited.”  

Though the Bruins would claw back to as close as 23-15, the Bears pulled steadily away, leading by 15 at halftime. The Bears went on a 12-4 run midway through the second half, and the Bruins were firmly in the rear view mirror.  

The Bears hammered the Bruins on the boards, out-rebounding them 46-33, with Ami Forney and Lauren Ashbaugh pacing the team with eight apiece. 

The Bears have one final game at Haas Pavilion this season: Saturday afternoon at USC. A win over the Trojans would give Cal their first sweep against both Los Angeles area schools ever.  

“I think USC is a very dangerous team,” said Horstmeyer. “They pressure you into making mistakes. They’re a very good team.”