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College Basketball

Shared crown

No. 15 Oregon earns first ever Pac-10 conference title

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Posted: Saturday March 06, 1999 10:12 PM

  Oregon forward Shaqual Williams (right) drops to the floor to retrieve a loose ball as Cal's Sherrise Smith comes from behind a moment too late. AP

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Lisa Bowyer had a net around her shoulders and a huge grin on her face. She certainly seemed to be enjoying the Oregon Ducks' first Pac-10 title, but said the real celebration would have to wait a day.

Bowyer scored 16 points and Natasha O'Brien added 14 as No. 15 Oregon earned a share of the conference crown with an 80-57 victory over California on Saturday.

The Ducks celebrated by cutting down a net at Kaiser Arena, the Bears' temporary home court, standing on a table moved from the courtside media row in lieu of a ladder.

"At the moment it doesn't really feel any different. I think it's going to be even better back home when we do it," Bowyer said of the celebration. "But I've been waiting to do this for a while."

Brianne Meharry added 10 points and Angelina Wolvert had 11 rebounds for the Ducks (24-5, 15-3 Pac-10), who tied UCLA for the conference crown. It is the first Pac-10 women's title for Oregon in any sport other than track or cross country.

"It feels strange to do it on the road," Oregon coach Jody Runge said. "But these kids have played championship basketball all year long."

Courtney Johnson had 13 points and Jennie Leander added 12 for Cal (12-15, 6-12), which had won four of its previous five games. The Bears were outshot 60 percent to 36 percent in the game.

"They're an unselfish team that distributes the ball well, and today they shot really well," California coach Marianne Stanley said of the Ducks.

California won twice as many games as in either of the two previous seasons, and went 10-4 at home -- including a defeat of Colorado State in December.

"This year has been a lot of fun," Leander said. "We did improve, and that's not always happened in the past."

Leading 33-26 at halftime, the Ducks used a 10-4 run at the start of the second half to build the lead to 13 points. Cal pulled within 45-36 on a 3-pointer by Lauren Ashbaugh, but Oregon then ran off nine straight points -- five by O'Brien -- to take an 18-point lead with 10:20 remaining.

Oregon steadily increased its lead the rest of the game. It reached a high of 27 points with 2:21 left when Bowyer hit a layup to make it 78-51.

In the first half, Oregon jumped to a 14-3 lead. Cal scored seven straight points to pull within four, but O'Brien's two 3-pointers fueled a 10-5 run to make it 24-15.

The Bears pulled within a basket at 26-24 on a 3-pointer by Paige Bowie with two minutes left in the half, but Oregon responded with a 7-2 run to take a seven-point halftime lead.

 
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