Ultimately, the Cal women had no answer for Stanford star Nneka Ogumike, who scored 29 points in the Cardinal’s 77-62 win in the finals of the Pac-12 women’s tournament.
But the Bears will earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, and they can’t wait.
“It’s not the end for us,” Cal freshman Reshanda Gray said. “We’re still going to go dancing.”
First-year coach Lindsay Gottlieb said she believes the Bears (24-9) should be seeded as a No. 6 or 7 when the pairings are announced Monday.
“I think we’ve earned that,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our effort today. I have pasasionate players and they’re disappointed because they want to win. They didn’t come here for second place.”
Layshia Clarendon scored 20 points for Cal and freshman Brittany Boyd added 13, including three 3-pointers in the first half that helped the Bears overcome an early 17-4 hole.
Ogwumike, named tournament MVP for the third time, tied a record with 71 points in the tournament and made her first three 3-point baskets of the season. Her sophomore sister Chiney set a record with 37 rebounds in three games.
“I think they might be the best frontcourt ever,” Gottlieb said, “and that was before Nneka starting hitting 3s from 30 feet.”