Cal Opens Season On the East Coast

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The Cal women's basketball team opens its regular season this weekend, starting today with No. 7 Rutgers.

The Bears are coming off two exhibition wins and will be tested by the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers is a team on the rise, coming off a 26-8 season and a trip to the Final Four. Before last year, the Scarlet Knights reached the Elite Eight and the Sweet Sixteen in the previous two seasons.

Despite losing six seniors, including honorable mention All-American Shawnetta Stewart, Rutgers still boasts two of the best players in the country.

Tasha Pointer, a 5-foot-6 guard was an honorable mention All-American and is the team's leading returning scorer, having notched 9.7 points per game last season.

Pointer also dished out 5.5 assists per game while grabbing 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals on the year. Tammy Sutton-Brown, a 6-foot-4 center averaged 9.2 ppg and 5.1 rpg while being named to the Big East All-Tournament team.

After two exhibition games, Cal's matchup with the Scarlet Knights will be a good indicator of how the Bears compare to one of the most elite teams in the country.

"It's nice going in as the underdog," Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer said. "There's no expectations in terms of our beating them."

In order to pull off the upset, the Bears will look for guards Courtney Johnson and Kenya Corley to penetrate Rutgers' defense and not settle for jump shots.

Cal will also rely on its host of post players like Lauren Ashbaugh, Ami Forney and Amber White.

"If we're going to beat them we have to be a team," Horstmeyer said.

Two days later the Bears will still be on the East Coast, taking on Fairfield.

The Stags open their season today at The College of Holy Cross before hosting Cal on Sunday.

In an exhibition game last Tuesday, Fairfield won by a staggering 39 points over the New York Gazelles.

Last season, the Stags finished 25-8 en route to the regular season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and their first Women's National Invitational Tournament berth.

The Stags are picked to win the MAAC this season and return one of the best players in the conference in Gail Strumpf.

Strumpf, a 6-foot-4 center was the MAAC Player of the Year last season and is favored to capture the award for a second year in a row.

Last season, Strumpf averaged 19.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg.

Fairfield guard Holli Tapley was named to the preseason All-MAAC second team and was a second team selection a year ago.

Tapley averaged 13.2 ppg and 4.6 apg last season and set a school record with 73 three-point field goals.

The Stags also boast sophomore guard/forward Schrene Isidora, who was MAAC Co-Rookie of the year last season. As a freshmen, Isidora started in 32 of the 33 games she played in and averaged 9.2 ppg and 4.1 rpg.


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