Women's Hoops Exhibits Second-Half Heroics





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In its first of two exhibition games this season, the Cal women's basketball team struggled, but managed to pull out a 77-72 win over the Bay Area Pro-Am team yesterday at Haas Pavilion.

First-year Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer thinks the experience was good for the Bears.

"This was a great game for us to have," Horstmeyer said. "We got off to a little bit of a shaky start. I thought they really hung in there."

The Bears were down by as many as 10 points in the first half before using a 12-1 run to go ahead 23-22. The score was tied at 34 at halftime.

Cal was led by forward Lauren Ashbaugh's 23 points, six rebounds and two steals.

"Coach said it was time to pound it inside," Ashbaugh said.

The Bears trailed by seven with 7:37 left in the second half before a series of defensive plays swung momentum in Cal's direction.

After two Kenya Corley free throws, Amber White stole the ball and scored, putting the Bears ahead 58-55.

On the ensuing in-bounds play, pressure from Ashbaugh forced another turnover, which led to two more free throws from guard Nicole Ybarra.

The Bears next possession proved just as successful when White collected a rebound off an Ami Forney miss, and scored giving Cal a 59-58 lead.

The Pro-Am team would reclaim the lead at 62-59, but Ashbaugh made two foul shots followed by a Courtney Johnson steal and lay up to give the Bears a lead they held onto until the final buzzer.

"We've come a long way defensively," Horstmeyer said. "(But) I'd like to see a little more ball pressure."

Cal forced 28 turnovers, including 17 steals. Johnson snagged four while Corley and White claimed three apiece.

"We saw everyone play with great effort," Horstmeyer said. "I also think it was key for us to be in a close game and come out on top."

Amber White chipped in with 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Becky Staubes added 11 points for the Bears.

The Pro-Am squad was led by Jamie Redd of the WNBA's Seattle Storm and Valerie Gillon, who finished with 16 points a piece.

Horstmeyer substituted frequently, using 12 players, including two freshmen who were impressive in their first collegiate outings.

Forward Kiki Williams pulled down three rebounds and was a presence in the post despite a lingering shin injury.

"I've gotten a lot stronger in the post," Williams said. "I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be."

Guard LaTasha O'Keith had two points and two assists and helped bring the struggling offense along in the first half.

"She was a spark off the bench from a penetration perspective," Horstmeyer said.

Horstmeyer was also pleased with the team's steals, but wasn't happy to see the Pro-Am team shoot 46.8 percent from the field.

"That makes my hair stand up a little bit," Horstmeyer said, adding that she would like to see the team keep opponents shooting under 40 percent.

The rest of Horstmeyer's concerns were on offense.

Cal knocked down only 27 of 70 of its field goal attempts for a less than stellar 38.6 percent shooting. The Bears also struggled from the foul line going 22 of 38 for 57.9 percent.

"We haven't worked much on shooting," Horstmeyer said. "That's something we'll need to do."

Another category that is in need of some work is Cal's passing game. Along with working on making better passes, the Bears will also work on getting the ball to their frontcourt players.

"We haven't done a lot of work passing into the post," Horstmeyer said. "You can't be lackadaisical."

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