WASHINGTON (AP) — Coming off a 32-4 record and a NCAA Final Four appearance, California coach Lindsay Gottlieb said Friday night that this year's team will have to write its own story.
The latest chapter of that story was disappointing.
Megan Nipe scored a career-high 31 points and Danni Jackson made a 3-pointer with 3:11 left to put George Washington ahead to stay in a 75-72 victory over the 10th-ranked Golden Bears.
Reshanda Gray scored a career-high 24 points and Brittany Boyd added 17 points and 11 rebounds for California (1-2), which was coming off a 70-58 home loss to No. 2 Duke.
"We have one choice, and that is to get better," Gottlieb said. "This is our team, we choose this team any night. It may not look as perfect as last year, but we're OK with that.
"We've got to write our own story, but the expectations are the same and we'll get better from this."
The Golden Bears had the ball with 13 seconds left, but Boyd and Afure Jemerigbe missed three-point attempts in the final seconds.
George Washington (2-0) beat a Top 25 team for the first time since a win against the then-No. 10 Golden Bears 55-53 in the NCAA tournament in March 2008.
"The atmosphere here tonight was electric," Colonials coach Johnathan Tsipis said after watching the lead change hands five times in the second half.
Jackson finished with 14 points and Caira Washington added 12 and eight rebounds. Nipe shot 11 for 20, including 4 for 9 from 3-point range.
"I did not wake up this morning feeling (confident)," she said. "I actually felt a little nauseous before the game."
The Colonials opened the second half with a 9-2 run to tie the score at 43, and took a 48-47 lead on two free throws by Chakecia Miller.
"That wasn't how exactly how we planned the first couple minutes of the second half," Gottlieb said. "We talked about this team being really good and that they weren't going to go away. We started off with a couple of turnovers. I think that made it really tough."
George Washington' had a 7-0 run, capped by Miller's short jumper, to make it 61-53 with 7:40 left.
California rallied and took a 67-66 lead on two free throws by Boyd, but Jackson's 3 put the Colonials back in front.
After Jackson's short jumper put the Colonials ahead by four, Gray was fouled while scoring and completed the three-point play to pull California to within 73-72 with a minute left.
The Golden Bears next two possessions ended with Courtney Range being called for offensive fouls.
"A couple foul calls went against us and (we had) a couple turnovers down the stretch that were really crucial," Gottlieb said.
California had one final chance after Nipe converted just 1 of 2 free throws with 13 seconds left.
Both teams shot just over 39 percent for the game, but California hit just 11 of 32 shots after intermission.
"We had a lot of good open looks, we just didn't knock them down," Gray said.
California made just four of its first 12 shots to start the game and 3s by Jackson and Nipe gave the Colonials an early 15-9 lead.
The Golden Bears took their first lead, 27-26 on a corner three from Mikayla Lyles with just over six minutes left in the half. They scored 28 of their 41 first-half points in the paint.
California completes a weekend stay in Washington with a game at Georgetown on Sunday.