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Softball: Henderson sisters power Bears

Sophomore Danielle Henderson hit two home runs and senior Jolene Henderson pitched a two-hitter, lifting the Bears (37-17) to an 8-1 win over Central Michigan in their NCAA Ann Arbor (Mich.) Regional opener.

Cal plays a winners-bracket game Saturday against No. 7 Michigan (46-10), which beat Valparaiso 5-0.

Victoria Jones and Lindsey Ziegenhirt also homered for Cal.

Jolene Henderson struck out eight and allowed one unearned run. She is expected to face Michigan sophomore Sara Driesenga, who pitched her own two-hitter and struck out six against Valparaiso.

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Golf: Golden Bears scorch course for record score in first round of NCAA Pullman regional

The top-seeded Cal golf team set a course record to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the NCAA Pullman (Wash.) Regional at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club.

The Bears shot a 23-under par score of 265 and lead Saint Mary’s, which checked in at 267. The top five finishers qualify for the NCAA championships, May 28 through June 2 at Alpharetta, Ga.

“Yes, we want to win this tournament,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said. “But let’s not forget what the real goal is here, and that real goal is to finish in the top five and get to the NCAA Championship in Atlanta.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot for that, and if we can continue to do what we’ve done I like our chances. If we win even better, but let’s get to Atlanta. That’s the rallying cry.”

Cal, which has won 10 tournaments this season, got seven-under par scores of 65 from Joel Stalter and Michael Weaver. They are tied for third place.

The first-round leader is USC’s Sam Smith, who broke the course record with a 10-under par 62. Mac McClung of Saint Mary’s is second at 63.

Brandon Hagy shot a 66 for the Bears, Michael Kim had a 69 and Max Homa a 70.

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Softball: Bears chosen to NCAA regional

A year after earning a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, the Cal softball team (36-17) was placed in a regional at Ann Arbor, Mich., its 28th consecutive trip to the NCAAs — the longest active streak in the country.

The Bears open play Friday against Central Michigan (33-18) at 4:30 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN3. Also in the Ann Arbor regional are eighth-seeded Michigan (45-10) and Valparaiso (34-25).

The winner of the Michigan regional advances to play a best-of-three series against the winner of the LSU regional, featuring LSU, Central Connecticut, Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State. 

Cal is aiming for its third straight College World Series bid.

Eight Pac-12 teams were included in the 64-team NCAA field, topped by conference champion and No. 3 seed Oregon and fifth-seeded Arizona State. ASU opens at home against San Jose State.

Stanford also claimed a spot in the event, and will open against Tulsa at Lincoln, Neb.

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Golf: Bears earn No. 1 NCAA regional seed

The No. 1-ranked Cal golf team was selected as the top seed in the 54-hole NCAA Pullman Regionals, May 16-18 in Pullman, Wash.

Cal is among 81 teams competing at six regional tournaments. The Pullman event will feature 14 schools, including No. 2 seed TCU. Also headed to Pullman are Saint Mary’s, Pacific, USC, BYU and San Diego State.

The Bears are playing in an NCAA regional for the seventh consecutive season.

“This is always the fun time of the year,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said. “You start with the conference championship, and we were successful there. As we now get to the NCAA Regional, we’re certainly not going to look past that. It will be very competitive. There are some really good teams in the regional. We’re going to have to be ready, and we’re going to have to play well.”

“We haven’t played the course before, but the one thing I’ve heard is that it’s a good, fair golf course,” Desimone added.

Cal has equaled the unofficial all-time NCAA victory record previously established by Oklahoma State in 1985-86 with victories in 10 of its first 12 tournaments in 2012-13. Most recently, the Bears defended their title at the Pac-12 Championship.

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Women’s basketball: Bears fall in Final Four

Up 10 points at halftime, the Cal women’s basketball team lost 64-57 to Louisville in the national semifinals at New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.

Click here for staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s story and a photo slideshow.

Cal shot 58 percent in the first half, then was taken out of its transition game and struggled offensively. The Bears turned the ball over 19 times and were just 4 for 15 from the 3-point line. They also never dealt with Louisville sharpshooter Antonita Slaugher, who shot 6 for 10 from the 3-point arc and scored 18 points.

Cal, which finished its greatest season with a 32-4 record, was led by senior guard Layshia Clarendon, with 17 points.

Louisville (29-8) advances to Tuesday’s national championship game against UConn, which routed Notre Dame 83-65, the day after the Cardinals’ men’s team faces Michigan for the NCAA crown.

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Women’s basketball: Bears head to New Orleans

The Cal women’s basketball team is on its way to the Final Four in New Orleans, where on Sunday it will face Louisville in the national semifinals.

Check out staff writer Elliott Almond’s excellent profile on Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who knew early she would have a life in basketball.

How will the Bears do on the nation’s biggest stage? They see no reason why they can’t win it all. Here’s the story.

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Women’s basketball: Golden Bears rally past Georgia in overtime, earn first Final Four bid

President Obama had it right — the Cal women are Final Four bound for the first time.

The Golden Bears, down 10 points with less than 7 minutes left in the NCAA regional final at Spokane, Wash., rallied for a 65-62 overtime victory over the same Georgia team that knocked Stanford out of the tournament two days earlier.

“I knew this was possible,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I believed in this group more than anyone ever, and I still can’t believe this in my wildest dreams.”

Cal (32-3) will play either Louisville or Tennessee in the national semifinal on Sunday at New Orleans.

Senior guard Layshia Clarendon scored 17 of her 25 points in the second half and overtime to spark the comeback. Talia Caldwell grabbed eight rebounds, leaving her two short of becoming just the third Cal player to accumulate 1,000 career points and rebounds. 

The Bears become the first West Coast team other than Stanford to make it to the Final Four in 25 years. During that time, either teams from the West reached the regional final, only to come up short.

Cal is just the third school from the Pac-12 to get there, joining Stanford and USC.

For details, check out staff writer Elliott Almond’s story from Spokane.

For Final Four ticket info, click here.

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Women’s basketball: Bears roar into Elite 8

The Cal women did something no Golden Bears’ baskeball team — of either gender — has done since 1960.

And something five-time Final Four powerhouse Stanford couldn’t get done Saturday.

The Golden Bears moved into the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament with a 73-63 win over LSU at Spokane, Wash.

The second-seeded Bears (31-3) made it to the regional finals for the first time in school history.

With a win Monday over Georgia — a 61-59 winner over top-seeded Stanford — the Bears will play in their first Final Four.

“This for us is about who we want to be,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We’re not trying to out-Stanford Stanford.”

No Cal team has advanced this deep in the NCAA tournament since the Bears’ men reached the national championship in 1960.

Click here for staff writer Elliott Almond’s game story.

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Women’s basketball: Bears win NCAA opener

Here is Stephanie Hammon’s story on the Cal women at the NCAA tournament:

Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb is sticking to her original assessment of Fresno State — No. 15 seeds don’t get much tougher than the Bulldogs.

The Bears won their NCAA tournament opener for the second straight year, topping Fresno State 90-76 on Saturday at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

But Cal, seeded No. 2 in the Spokane region, took awhile to seize control against the hot-shooting Bulldogs (24-9). And though the Bears led the entire second half, it was never by too comfortable a margin.

Click here for the rest of the story.

 

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Basketball: Syracuse game thread

Click here for my game story, plus a photo slide show.

And here for Jon Wilner’s story on Allen Crabbe’s frustrating night.

FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 66, Cal 60. Bears got within six late, no closer. There will be no Sweet 16 for the Bears (21-12) — a drought that dates back to 1997. Solomon career-highs of 22 points, 14 rebounds. Crabbe scored eight points — nearly 11 under his average — on 3 for 9 shooting. Cobbs scored five on 2 for 9. Crabbe declined to address his future afterward.

Cal finished at 39 percent from the field, 4 for 21 from the 3-point arc. The Bears had 17 turnovers.

Syracuse (28-9) is headed to Washington D.C. for its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in five years, despite shooting 39 percent from the field and missing 15 free throws.

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