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.


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.


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.


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.



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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Women’s basketball: Cal dives into NCAA play

Here is staff writer Elliott Almond’s preview of the Cal women’s NCAA tournament opener Saturday against Fresno State:

Lindsay Gottlieb expects Cal’s last game to help the Bears prepare for Fresno State in the NCAA tournament opener Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

The Bears fell to UCLA 70-58 in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals while shooting a paltry 29.5 percent for the game and missing all 11 3-point shots in the first half.

“We talked about never being comfortable and understanding that great teams will come out and give us their best game — and we have to always be ready for that,” Gottlieb said.

Fresno State coach Raegan Pebley expects Cal (28-3) to be more than ready.

“They only lost three games and they’re still averaging in the 70s in points per game,” she said. “I have a hard time saying that they’re not a very good shooting team or on a downhill slide with their shooting percentages. You have to look at their body of work.”

Based on a season of success, the second-seeded Bears should roll over the No. 15 Bulldogs in a 1:20 p.m. game at United Spirit Arena.

But Fresno State (24-8) has plenty of postseason experience, playing in its sixth consecutive tournament. The undersized Bulldogs are looking for their first tournament victory against a team President Barack Obama has chosen to reach its first Final Four.

Click here for the rest of this story.

Brittany Boyd (15) and Cal open NCAA play against Fresno State. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff)



Basketball: Which Cal player needs to deliver big?

First, my picks for the all-time five-man teams (plus one reserve) at Cal & Syracuse:

CAL: PG Jason Kidd; SG Phil Chenier; SF Lamond Murray; PF Shareef Abdur-Rahim; C Darrall Imhoff; 6th man Kevin Johnson.

SYRACUSE: PG Pearl Washington; SG Dave Bing; SF Carmelo Anthony; PF Derrick Coleman; C Rony Seikaly; 6th man Billy Owens.

So, is there anyone on the current team poised to deliver the kind of performance Saturday that will earn him a permanent place in Cal lore?

I want your vote on which player will have to muster an extraordinary game for the Bears to upset the Orange on Saturday evening:

— Allen Crabbe

— Justin Cobbs

— Richard Solomon

— David Kravish

— Tyrone Wallace

— Robert Thurman

— Someone else

I’ll be curious to get your consensus.


Basketball: Cal, Oregon fans planning to `Light Up San Jose’ for NCAA games at HP Pavilion

Cal and Oregon fans may create a bright gold-and-yellow blur Saturday in HP Pavilion and on national television for Saturday’s round of 32 doubleheader.

The Pac-12 Conference foes combined their promotional efforts as both try to pull off upsets to reach the Sweet 16. They’re calling it “Light Up San Jose.”

Cal is asking fans to wear gold when the No. 12 Bears face No. 4 Syracuse. Likewise Oregon is telling its fans to wear yellow as the No. 12 Ducks face No. 4 Saint Louis in Saturday’s opener.

It’s created a unique instance of Pac-12 cooperation amid fan bases. “That’s exciting to have a lot of Pac-12 fans here and having Oregon cheering for us,” Cal junior guard Justin Cobbs said. “We really appreciate that and we’ll be there for them, also.”

In an email sent by Cal athletics to ticketholders, fans were given a five-item checklist of how to approach Saturday’s game. Included was a request to arrive in time for Oregon’s 4:10 p.m. game against St. Louis.





Basketball: Boeheim impressed by Cal guards

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is impressed by Cal’s Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, but perhaps even more so by Justin Cobbs.

“Their guards are good, really good,” Boeheim said. “Crabbe is a tremendous shooter, one of the best shooters in the country.

“And their point guard made so many big plays (Thursday) night, really big plays,” he said, referring to Cobbs’ performance in the Bears’ 64-61 NCAA tournament win over UNLV.

“That game would have gone the other way, but he made some huge plays down the stretch, getting in the lane and getting the ball to the big guys.

“Two really good players.”

Click here for the rest of this Cal-Syracuse notebook.


Basketball: Syracuse game preview

Under any circumstances, facing the Syracuse defense is a challenge for an unfamiliar opponent. “You hear about it,” senior guard Brandon Triche said, “but our zone is going to be way different than they expect.”

The version Cal sees Saturday evening in their third-round NCAA tournament matchup at HP Pavilion may be the best the Orange has ever put on the floor.

“Yeah, I think it is one of our better defensive teams,” said coach Jim Boeheim, in his 37th season. “We pride ourselves on defense … and this year we’re probably a little better than the norm.”

For the 12th-seeded Golden Bears (21-11) to climb past the Orange (27-9) and into their first Sweet 16 since 1997, they will have to be smart, quick and decisive on offense against a 2-2-1 zone alignment with few holes.

Click here for the rest of my story.

THE SERIES: Syracuse leads 1-0. The Orange beat Cal 95-73 at Madison Square Garden during the 2009-2010 season.

ETC: Allen Crabbe needs 27 points to pull even with Brian Hendrick (1990-93) for 10th on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,556 points. Crabbe, who scored 19 against UNLV, has 1,529 for his career. … Syracuse’s 81-34 win over Montana on Thursday was its first in four NCAA games played in California. … Jim Boeheim and Mike Montgomery have combined to coach 68 college seasons and have won a total of 1,83 games.

WHAT’S NEXT: A victory would send the Bears to the Sweet 16 round in Washington D.C., beginning next Thursday. Cal has not advanced to the regional semifinals since 1997.

Cal (21-11, 12-6 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 18.7 6.1
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.5 6.6
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 8.0 7.0
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 15.4 4.8*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 7.0 4.5
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 2.5 1.9*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 4.8 3.6
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 3.5 2.3

Syracuse (27-9, 11-7 Big East)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
PF Rakeem Christmas 6-9 So. 5.4 4.7
SF James Southerland 6-8 Sr. 13.7 5.2
SF C.J. Fair 6-8 Jr. 14.4 7.0
SG Brandon Triche 6-4 Sr. 13.9 3.3
PG Michael Carter-Williams 6-6 So. 11.8 7.8*
Key reserves
C DaJuan Coleman 6-9 Fr. 4.8 4.0
F Jerami Grant 6-8 Fr. 4.1 2.9
G Trevor Cooney 6-4 Fr. 3.7 0.9