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Baseball: Bears win NCAA opener; A&M awaits

The third-seeded Cal baseball team got off to a good start in the NCAA tournament, riding a strong starting pitching performance by sophomore Daulton Jefferies to a 9-3 win over Coastal Carolina on Friday at College Station, Texas.

The Bears (35-19) face top-seeded host Texas A&M (46-11) on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Aggies defeated Texas Southern 5-0 on Friday night at Blue Bell Park.

Junior right-hander Ryan Mason (6-3, 3.18) is expected to pitch for the Bears against A&M right-hander Grayson Long (9-0, 2.62).

Saturday’ game is not televised but fans can follow @Cal_Baseball on Twitter for updates.

The Bears picked up their first NCAA tournament win since beating Texas A&M at the 2011 College World Series, thanks for a sharp effort by Jefferies and a big day at the plate by his batterymate Mitchell Kranson.

Jefferies limited the Chanticleers (38-20) of the Big South Conference to one run on three hits over seven innings. He struck out five and won his sixth game of the season.

Kranson was 3 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Aaron Knapp and Devin Pearson each had run-scoring doubles in the fifth inning as the Bears took the lead for good.

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Women’s basketball: Texas ousts Bears

The Cal women’s season ended Sunday evening with a 72-66 loss to Texas in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Haas Pavilion.

The fourth-seeded Bears (24-10) for 22 points from Mercedes Jefflo and a near triple-double from senior guard Brittany Boyd. She finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.

Pac-12 Player of the Year Reshanda Gray fouled out in just 19 minutes after being held to seven points and three rebounds.

The fifth-seeded Longhorns (24-10) advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 11 years.

Jefflo’s 6-for-11 effort from the 3-point arc sparked a Cal attack that made 11 3-point baskets. But the Bears turned the ball over 20 times.

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Women’s basketball: Bears cruise to victory

The Cal women won their NCAA tournament opener for the fourth straight year, beating Wichita State 78-66 at Haas Pavilion on Friday afternoon.

The fourth-seeded Bears (24-9) will play No. 5 seed Texas on Sunday. The Longhorns (23-10) beat Western Kentucky 66-64. Tipoff is 6 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN2.

Reshanda Gray led five Cal players in double figures with 22 points. She also had nine rebounds. Mercedes Jefflo added 14 points and Brittany Boyd had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Cal shot 52 percent and outrebounded the Shockers (29-5) by a 38-27 margin.

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Basketball: Ex-Cal guard Jarod Haase, UAB to face UCLA 22 years after his first experience against the Bruins

For Alabama-Birmingham coach Jarod Haase, Saturday’s NCAA tournament game against UCLA will be framed by an entirely different set of circumstances than the first time he faced the Bruins.

At stake for Haase and the 14th-seeded Blazers is a spot in next week’s Sweet 16. For a school that dropped its football program in December, the opportunity is a joyous occasion.

In 1993, when he and Jason Kidd formed an all-freshman backcourt at Cal, Haase took on the Bruins with a somber heart.

His father, Gary Haase, a 55-year-old Cal grad, had died unexpectedly the day before of causes stemming from an infection in his spleen after being checked into a hospital with an ankle infection.

Then-Cal coach Lou Campanelli gave Haase the option of returning to his family home in South Lake Tahoe rather than remain with the team in Los Angeles. He stayed, explaining that his father would have wanted it that way.

Haase and the Bears responded with a spectacular performance, routing the Bruins 104-82. It was UCLA’s worst loss at Pauley Pavilion since its opening 27 years before, and prompted legendary Bruins coach John Wooden – who attended the game – to say, “I never thought we’d be behind by this margin at home to anybody.”

Haase played 30 minutes and contributed 16 points and five assists to Cal’s most one-sided win over UCLA since 1923. Afterward, he allowed himself a quick smile as he left the court.

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Basketball: A few things to consider before filling out your NCAA tournament bracket

A few more NCAA tournament bracket tips to consider before entering your office pool:

First of all, do not fret when you get one wrong. Nobody’s perfect, and that especially holds true for picking the NCAA tournament. The folks in Las Vegas have calculated there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket combinations (9.2 quintillion), which means you’re going to miss a few.

Unbeaten Kentucky is everyone’s favorite and is listed by oddsmakers as a 1:1 choice to win the national title. That creates a problem when filling out your bracket: If you go with Ashley Judd’s favorite team, you don’t separate yourself from the crowd. If you go any other direction, you do so at your own risk.

My suggestion, fill out two brackets: One with UK on the final line and the other with someone else.

If Kentucky does wind winning the title, the person who fared best on games not involving the Wildcats will win your pool.

A general rule of thumb: Be bold, but not crazy.

All four No. 1 seeds will not reach the Final Four. But don’t expect all of them to lose on the first weekend because they don’t. Eighty-eight percent of top seeds, in fact, advance to the second weekend. So if you want to pick a few upsets, avoid derailing any of the No. 1 seeds until the second week.

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Basketball: Bears won’t be NCAA team next season, according to Lunardi’s first projection

Whoever winds up coaching Cal in 2014-15 won’t take the Bears to the NCAA tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

Lunardi’s first 2015 bracket projection includes six Pac-12 teams, but not Cal.

He has Arizona as a No. 1 seed, along with Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan. The No. 2 seeds are Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Villanova.

Other Pac-12 teams in his field are No. 8 seed Oregon, No. 9 Utah, No. 10 Colorado, No. 11 Stanford and No. 11 UCLA. Lunardi lists Colorado and Stanford among the last four teams in with a bye, and has UCLA playing in one of the “first four” games to enter the 64-team bracket.

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Women’s basketball: Bears ousted at Baylor

Outscored 41-23 in the second half, the Cal women (22-10) were eliminated from the NCAA tournament after a 75-56 loss to No. 2 seed Baylor (31-4) at Waco, Texas.

Afure Jemerigbe scored 17 points to lead the seventh-seeded Bears and Brittany Boyd had 15 points and seven assists.

All-America guard Odyssey Sims led Baylor with 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.