Bears Make Strides but Can't Catch Washington

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Ask anyone associated with the Cal women's basketball team and they will say the Bears are constantly improving.

Turnovers are down and games are becoming more competitive.

For the most part, each team Cal plays for the second time in Pac-10 play says the Bears are remarkably better than the first time they met.

But for all the strides the Bears make, those steps aren't resulting in many victories.

After being hammered 85-46 Jan. 17 against Washington on the road, Cal hung with the Huskies Saturday for the better part of the game, tying the contest at 42 with 10:50 remaining.

Washington responded with a 14-0 run out of a timeout to put enough distance between itself and the Bears to come away with a 64-53 win at Haas Pavilion.

Cal made a late push to come within six at 59-53, but got no closer.

Huskies coach June Daugherty commended Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer and her staff for the job they've done with the team, noting how much better the Bears played compared to the two teams' first meeting in Seattle.

"Cal has improved in a lot of areas," Daugherty said.

Despite the compliments, the Bears (7-18, 2-14 in the Pac-10) lost their seventh game in eight outings.

Their two conference wins have come against Washington State, which hasn't won a Pac-10 game all season.

"Today showed the incredible strides that we have made all year." Horstmeyer said. "It's tough that you don't get the win."

Except for the span of 4:30 when the Huskies' spurt put them up by 14, Cal was in the contest much of the afternoon. The Bears led by as many as six in the first half.

But it was in the second half when Washington (16-9, 11-5) made its push and managed to hold off Cal.

A big reason the Huskies managed to escape with the victory was the play of Kellie O'Neill off the bench.

She scored 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-3 on three pointers. Following the game, she said Cal plays much better at home. O'Neill also said the Cal band was good at saying things to get in the heads of opponents.

According to O'Neill, most of the taunts weren't fit to be repeated.

"They have a very vocal band," she said. "I was actually astonished at a few of them today."

The Bears got their offense in the early going from Leigh Gregory, who scored 11 points in the first half, but went scoreless after intermission. Kiki Williams shook off a rough start to lead Cal with 12-her fifth consecutive game in double figures.

"I don't think she started well, but she didn't get down about it," Horstmeyer said of Williams. "She competed."

Senior Ami Forney, playing in her last game at Haas, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Washington was led by O'Neill and Giuliana Mendiola, who notched 10 points and a game-high seven assists. Andrea Lalum was also in double figures with 10 points.

It was the final home game for the Bears. Cal wraps up the regular season this week with a trip to Los Angeles to face UCLA and USC.


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