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Sun Devils end Cal’s postseason dreams

Daily Planet Wire Services
Friday March 09, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. – Senior guard Courtney Johnson did all she could to extend California’s season into the postseason for the first time since 1993, but she didn’t get enough support from her teammates as the Bears fell to Arizona State, 70-58, Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.  

The loss dropped Cal to 12-15 and 8-9 in the Pac-10, making it impossible for the Bears to finish at the necessary .500 mark to qualify for the NIT with one game remaining. ASU improved to 20-9, 12-5 in league play and moved back into a tie for first place in the conference with Washington following its loss to USC Thursday.  

“I thought we needed people to help Courtney Johnson,” said Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer. “Courtney was trying to do everything out there. She needed people to step up around her. I didn’t feel that people were stepping up the way they could. Courtney gives every single thing that she has on the floor all of the time.”  

Johnson, who entered the game as Cal’s leading scorer this season at 14.7 ppg, paced Cal with 17 points, five steals and four assists. With her effort, she moved from third to second in Pac-10 history for steals with 284, surpassing Stanford’s Sonya Henning’s (1988-91) 280. She also now has 1052 points, moving past Paige Bowie (1043) for 14th all-time at Cal in scoring.  

Sophomore forward Amber White had a solid night for the Bears, posting eight points, a team-high seven rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal.  

The Sun Devils shot 51.1 percent behind four players in double figures – Amanda Levens with 20, Betsy Boardman with 14, Melody Johnson with 13 points and 12 boards, and Leah Combs with 11 off the bench. The Bears shot 40.0 percent from the field.  

Cal’s Johnson picked up her second foul less than three minutes into the game, and Arizona State was able to build a 14-4 lead with 12:26 left in the first half with Johnson on the bench. Horstmeyer was forced to put Johnson back in the game to jumpstart the Bears offense. The Sun Devils led 20-10 before the Bears went on a 12-5 run capped by an end-to-end steal and score from Amber White to close the gap to 25-22 with 5:39 to play. ASU capitalized on three-straight Cal turnovers to go on an 8-0 run to extend its lead back to double figures (33-22) with 3:25 until the break. A three-pointer by Brook Coulter spurred a 7-0 Bear run, which brought them within four, but that was as close as Cal would get the rest of the game.  

“When Courtney went out, they went on a little bit of a run,” said Horstmeyer. “It’s a big factor when she picks up a couple of fouls like that. I had to take her out, but I’ll always put her back in because she’s smart.”  

ASU extended its 37-29 halftime edge to 15 less than three minutes into the second half with a 9-2 run keyed by seven points from Combs. The Sun Devils built their lead to as much as 18 on two occasions in the second half, and the Bears never got any closer than 11 points during the remainder of the game.  

On a positive note, Cal committed a season-low 13 turnovers, while forcing ASU into 20.  

Cal wraps up its first campaign under Horstmeyer’s direction Saturday at Arizona. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.. The Wildcats (18-11, 8-9 Pac-10) are coming off a loss to Stanford and are the only team this year’s seven Cal seniors haven’t defeated during their collegiate careers.