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Cal women looking for first Pac-10 win

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday January 10, 2002

This season is clearly a time of rebuilding for the Cal women’s basketball team. They have lost eight of their last nine games and are 0-4 in Pac-10 play. But eventually, the young players (seven freshmen, four sophomores) need to grow up and contribute to some wins. 

Senior forward Ami Forney has been the Bears’ only consistent weapon this season, averaging 14.6 points per game, but teams have started to collapse on her and double-team her in the low post. While Forney has stepped up her game in conference play, scoring nearly 20 ppg in the four losses, she has had little help. While the collapsing defenses should open up the outside for Cal’s collection of shooters, the result has been disappointing. 

“We can talk about some of the other post players, but the bottom line is that you have to have people that can score on the perimeter,” Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer said. “We need some people to shoot it, and ultimately that’s going to take the pressure off of Ami.” 

As the Bears host two of the Pac-10’s top teams this weekend in Oregon and Oregon State, now would be a perfect time for some of those shooters to get hot. The prime suspect is freshman guard Jackie Lord, who has recovered from an injury and should be ready to contribute. But Lord is shooting just 37 percent from the floor and has looked tentative in her six appearances. 

“We know Jackie Lord can shoot. We’ve known that for a long time,” Horstmeyer said. “For her, some of it is confidence. She hasn’t had a lot of practice. I do think she has a scoring mentality, and I know she can score. It’s just a matter of time.” 

Horstmeyer’s squad should also get a scoring boost from the return of freshman Leigh Gregory, who has missed all of the team’s conference games due to injury. The team’s only other double-figure scorer (10 ppg), Gregory has the ability to help Forney out inside and shoulder some of the scoring load. 

The Bears have been solid on defense, giving up a Pac-10 best 57.7 points per game, they have been unable to stop teams late in close games, contributing to their loss total. Horstmeyer said her players have gotten away from their solid start to the season. 

“I don’t think our defense is where it was a month ago or a month and a half ago,” she said. “If that’s our bread and butter, we need to get back to where it was.” 

The Bears will face two teams this weekend that are positive examples of successful teams with one main scorer. Oregon features 1999-2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year Shaquala Williams, while Oregon State leans on last year’s Player of the Year, Felicia Ragland. Both teams have started conference play well with matching 4-2 records while leaning heavily on their leaders. 

Williams, who missed last season with a knee injury, has shown that she is all the way back, averaging 18.5 ppg in Pac-10 play. The senior could have a field day against the Cal guards, who have limited quickness. 

Ragland is an even more dominant force, scoring more than 20 points per game while no other Beaver averages more than 8. 

Horstmeyer’s strategy for beating the Oregon schools this weekend sounds remarkably similar to the formula Cal’s opponents have come up with. 

“Felicia Ragland and Shaquala Williams are going to get their points, but you have to make them work for their points and not give them easy baskets,” Horstmeyer said. “The other part of that is that you don’t let anyone else go off.”