Cal loses third straight as St. Mary’s takes over in game’s final minutes
The California women’s basketball team battled hard but lost to Bay Area rival St. Mary’s, 53-50, Saturday night at Haas Pavilion.
The Golden Bears’ record falls to 4-3 with their third straight loss, while the Gaels record improves to 4-3.
Freshman point guard Kristin Iwanaga had given the Bears an eight-point lead when she hit a three-point shot to make the score 45-37 with 6:40 remaining. But a 16-5 run clinched the game for St. Mary’s.
Cal last led at 50-48. But point guard Corrie Mizusawa gave the Gaels the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the right baseline, to make the score 51-50 with 1:25 left. Cal had a chance to tie the game with 0.4 seconds left. Coach Caren Horstmeyer called a timeout and inserted 3-point specialist Janet Franey. But the Bears could not cleanly handle the inbounds pass and did not get a shot off as time expired.
“Their experience took over down the stretch,” Horstmeyer said of the Gaels. “Corrie Mizusawa hit a big shot. She hadn’t really hit anything all day.”
Cal guard LaTasha O’Keith, who hit 3-for-3 from 3-point land and 2-for-2 from the free throw line, scored a career-high 15 points in the loss. Freshman forward Leigh Gregory added 13 points for the Bears.
Cal held Jerkisha Dosty, the WCC’s third-leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, to just 8 points. But her twin sister, Jermisha Dosty, led the visitors with 14.
Mizusawa finished with 7 points and a game-high 9 assists but also had a game-high 7 turnovers. Forward Amber White tied her career high with 6 assists.
St. Mary’s became the first opponent this season to outrebound Cal, at 46-35. Jermisha Dosty led the Gaels with 9 boards. Ami Forney paced the Bears with 10 rebounds.
“Every game we played, we’ve out-rebounded our opponents, and they out-rebounded us by 11. That was a big, big, big factor in the game,” Horstmeyer said. “We average 28 free throws in the game. By taking only nine, that shows we weren’t aggressive. We needed to be more aggressive from an offensive perspective.”
In the first half, both teams struggled to score in stretches and the game stood tied at 11-11 with 9:25 to play. The Gaels then went on a 13-3 run to grab their biggest lead of the game at 24-14.
Cal chipped in to Saint Mary’s 27-19 halftime lead by utilizing a full-court press through most of the second half. The Bears took the lead for the first time at 37-36 on a Gregory basket with 11:41 left in the game and led for the next nine minutes.
“We need to find some offense,” said Horstmeyer. “Our defense is keeping people under 55 points per game. Defensively, we’re playing extremely well. We need to find some ways to put points on the board. We were able to pressure Saint Mary’s in the full-court. That brought us back into the game. The problem was the last five or six minutes we struggled to score, so that we couldn’t press.”
The Bears now take a break for finals. They next play on Dec. 21 in the Pac-10 opener at Arizona followed by a Dec. 23 game at Arizona State. Cal returns to Haas Pavilion for a Dec. 28 game with USC.