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Women’s basketball: Visit by Louisville highlights Bears’ challenging nonconference schedule

The Cal women’s basketball team announced its nonconference schedule on Wednesday, a challenging 11-game set that includes a rematch of the Bears’ 2013 Final Four game against Louisville.

The Cardinals, Elite Eight participants at 33-5 last season, will visit Haas Pavilion on Sunday, Dec. 21. Louisville beat Cal 64-57 in the Final Four at New Orleans two seasons ago.

“Each and every year, we want to bring one of the nation’s top teams into Haas Pavilion, where we have one of the most exciting college basketball atmospheres you can find,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We are thrilled that Jeff Walz and Louisville will be coming to town, and I know our fans will be ready for a ‘Final 4 rematch.’

“Most importantly, it’s a game that will garner national attention and allow our players to play on the biggest stage.”

The Bears’ regular season opener is Sunday, November 16 at Stockton against Pacific. The home opener will be Tuesday, November 18 against Nevada.

Cal returns to the Hawaiian Islands three days later to compete in a tournament hosted by the Rainbow Wahine that will see the Bears take on two opponents that competed in the WNIT last season. Cal faces the hosts on Friday, November 21, and will take on Missouri on Sunday, November 23, in what will be the first meeting between the two teams.

“We are excited to release another non-conference schedule full of marquee match ups that are going to be fun for our fans to watch, and critical in terms of getting us ready for Pac-12 and post season play,” Gottlieb said of the 2014-15 non-conference schedule.

The return of Cal’s Thanksgiving weekend tournament sees San Jose State, Cincinnati and Creighton visit Haas Pavilion on November 28-29. The Bears open against SJSU on Friday.

“We are fortunate to host a Thanksgiving Tournament, and spend the holiday weekend playing in front of friends, family and our Cal fans,” Gottlieb said. “A tournament filed including San Jose State, Cincinnati and Creighton will provide some incredible competition.”

December opens up with a basketball double-header at Haas Pavilion. Cal will face Sacramento State on Wednesday, December 3, with the men’s basketball team playing Montana the same day.

The Bears then travel to Lawrence, Kansas, to face Kansas at famed on Dec. 7.  The final road game of the nonconference season is a trip to Long Beach State on December 13.

The nonconference season closes with another double-header at Haas Pavilion when the Bears face Old Dominion on Sunday, December 28, the same day that the Cal men’s basketball team faces Bakersfield.

Jeff Faraudo