NASSAU, Bahamas - The California women’s basketball team did not have an answer for junior guard Molly Creamer - last year’s Patriot League Player of the Year - as it lost to Bucknell, 59-56, in the championship game of the Nassau Knockout Saturday night at the National Gymnasium.
“Down the stretch, we allowed one person who we knew was going to take over the game, to take over the game,” said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. “[Creamer] ended up with 27 tonight. We didn’t do a good enough job defending her. Our defense let us down at the end of the game. They stepped up. They made some plays. They went to their go-to person. We tried to go to our go-to person, and they executed better than we did.”
Creamer, the MVP of the tournament, paced the Bison (7-6) with 27 points, including 20 in the second half. The Bison only played seven players, and offensively were a two-person show. Post Vicki Quimby, an all-tournament pick, added 19 points.
Senior center Ami Forney rebounded from a four-point performance against Lipscomb yesterday to post 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bears. Freshman point guard Kristin Iwanaga was Cal’s next-leading scorer with eight. Forney and Iwanaga were each named to the all-tournament team.
The Golden Bears fall to 5-8 (0-4 Pac-10) with their fifth loss of the season by six or fewer points.
The game was close from wire to wire, and Cal held the biggest lead of the game of 10 in the first half.
Following a three-point play by Forney with 4:20 left in the game, Cal held its biggest second-half lead at 51-45. The experience of Bucknell, which returned all five starters from last year’s 20-8 team, took over down the stretch.
Quimby scored six points and Creamer added four as Bucknell went on a 12-2 run to go up by four (57-53) with 38 ticks on the clock.
Cal called its final timeout with eight seconds left in the game down by three. Out of the timeout, freshman guard Jackie Lord then fired a long three-pointer which was on target but fell short.
Turnovers weren’t one of the Bears main nemesis down the stretch as they have been in the past. Cal committed a season-low 16 turnovers in the game. Cal just couldn’t hit its shot when it needed to, and didn’t come up with enough offensive rebounds. For the game, Cal shot 33.9 percent from the floor after converting on 63 percent of its attempts yesterday. Bucknell hit for 46.7 percent. Bucknell also held a 41-33 rebounding advantage.
“Last night, we shot really well,” said Horstmeyer. “Tonight we didn’t. I would credit that they wanted the game more than we wanted it. We’re going to keep working, and we’re going to keep learning. We’ve got a lot of young kids. Our future is bright.”
With the game tied at 10-10 with 8:20 until halftime, Cal went on a 10-1 run over the next four minutes, 13 seconds to got up 21-11. The Bears were sparked by the only made three-pointer for either team in the first half from the hands of Lord. The Bison responded with a 7-2 run to make it 23-18 at the half.
Despite the loss to Bucknell, Horstmeyer had many positive things to say about Cal’s Bahaman experience.
“It was great,” said Horstmeyer. “We had a great time. This was a great tournament for us. The hospitality of the Bahamians was outstanding. What I liked most about them is that they’re always smiling.”
Cal returns to Pac-10 action against Oregon Thursday, Jan. 10 at Haas Pavilion. Game time is 7 p.m.