Basketball: Bears have only one route to NCAAs

The Pac-12 tournament begins Wednesday in Las Vegas, but don’t expect the results of the four-day event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to create a seismic shift in the NCAA tournament landscape.

The bracket won’t be unveiled until Sunday, but the Pac-12’s fate is all but set, thanks to a season-long body of work that is short of impressive. Barring the unexpected, three Pac-12 teams — Arizona, Oregon and Utah — will receive NCAA invites.

Eight others, including Cal and Stanford, arrive in Vegas knowing that nothing short of winning the league’s automatic bid on Saturday night will get them to the NCAAs. Cal opens the tournament against Washington State at noon, and Stanford closes the first day with an 8:40 p.m. tipoff against Washington.

Only UCLA comes to the Pac-12 tournament on the bubble, with a shot at an at-large bid even if it doesn’t reach the tournament final.

Click here to read my preview of the tournament.


Women’s basketball: Bears fall short in title game

Cal lost 61-60 to 19th-ranked Stanford in the championship game of the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament in Seattle.

The fourth-seeded Bears (23-9) fell short of winning their first Pac-12 tournament title. Third-seeded Stanford (24-9) won its 11th conference tournament crown and the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.

Both schools are expected to be first- and second-round NCAA tournament hosts. ESPN.com’s Charlie Crème had both projected as No. 4 seeds.

Cal played 13 first-half minutes without star senior point guard Brittany Boyd, who took an accidental elbow to her left cheek 4 minutes into the game and left the floor bleeding. She finished with seven points on 2-for-9 shooting, along with two rebounds, three assists and four steals in 27 minutes.

Likewise, senior forward Reshanda Gray was saddled with foul trouble and scored just six points in 29 minutes.

Stanford led by four points before Mercedes Jefflo made a 3-pointer for the Bears just before the final horn.

“That was a really good game. I thought Stanford was a little bit better than us in some critical moments and made some plays,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “But we took a punch literally and figuratively — our leader and point guard goes out with blood gushing — and everybody else rallies and that was something I’m proud of.”

Courtney Range led Cal with 17 points, Jefflo scored 16 and Mikayla Cowling added 14. Taylor Greenfield scored a career-high 20 points for Stanford.


Women’s basketball: Bears into Pac-12 title-game

Seniors Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray powered the fourth-seeded Golden Bears to a 68-55 win over Colorado and into Sunday’s championship game of the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament against Stanford.

The rivals square off at 6 p.m. in an ESPN game with the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid on the line.

Boyd had 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals and Gray had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears (23-8).

Cal turned 16 Colorado turnovers into 20 points.


Basketball: Pac-12 tournament bracket


Wednesday-Saturday, March 11-14, 2015

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.

Wednesday, Mar. 11

Game 1 – No. 8 CALIFORNIA vs. No. 9 WASHINGTON STATE, 12:10 p.m., P12N

Game 2 – No. 5 ARIZONA STATE vs. No. 12 USC, approx. 2:40 p.m., P12N

Game 3 – No. 7 OREGON STATE vs. No. 10 COLORADO, 6:10 p.m., P12N

Game 4 – No. 6 STANFORD vs. No. 11 WASHINGTON, approx. 8:40 p.m., P12N

Thursday, Mar. 12

Game 5 – No. 8/9 vs. No. 1 ARIZONA, 12:10 p.m., P12N

Game 6 – No. 5/12 vs. No. 4 UCLA, approx. 2:40 p.m., P12N

Game 7 – No. 7/10 vs. No. 2 OREGON, 6:10 p.m., P12N

Game 8 – No. 6/11 vs. No. 3 UTAH, approx. 8:40 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Mar. 13

Semifinal 1, 6:10 p.m., P12N

Semifinal 2, approx. 8:45 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Mar. 14

Championship Game, 8:05 p.m., ESPN


Women’s basketball: Bears advance at Pac-12

Senior guard Brittany Boyd had 20 points and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and the fourth-seeded Golden Bears (22-8, 13-5) beat No. 5 Washington 69-53 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament at Seattle.

Cal will play Saturday in the semifinals against No. 9 Colorado, which upset top-seeded Oregon State 68-65. It’s potentially a break for the Bears, who easily beat Colorado 75-59 this season, but lost 73-55 at Oregon State just last week.

The Bears and Buffaloes tip off at 8:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.

It’s the eighth time in nine years the Bears have reached the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Mercedes Jefflo scored 16 points and Reshanda Gray had 13 points and nine rebounds.

The Bears limited Washington (23-7, 11-7) to 32-percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers.

San Jose native Jazmine Davis scored 21 points to lead the Huskies.

Cal trailed 19-12 before using a 12-0 run to take the lead.


Women’s basketball: Bears face tough road to Pac-12 tournament championship

A preview of Cal’s trip to Seattle for the Pac-12 women’s tournament, courtesy of staff wrier Elliott Almond:


RECORD: 21-8 overall, 13-5 in Pac-12. Tied for third with Stanford.

NEXT OPPONENT: Quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of Thursday night’s first-round game between fifth-seeded Washington and No. 12 Utah.

CAL UPDATE: The fourth-seeded Golden Bears have one of the conference’s best teams, led by All-Pac-12 seniors Reshanda Gray (Pac-12 player of the year) and Brittany Boyd (Naismith Award semifinalist). Also, Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green were named to the all-Pac-12 freshman team. Cal, though, might have two big hurdles to reach the championship Sunday in Seattle. It possibly could play hometown favorite Washington (22-8) and then top-seeded Oregon State, which defeated the Bears 73-55 in the regular-season finale last weekend. “Overall, our program is at the point where we want to win championships,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “So there is a little disappointment” in tying for third in the regular-season standings.

However, Gottlieb said the competitive Pac-12 campaign prepared Cal for the postseason. “We have a team when things are clicking we can be really good,” she said. “This could be one of our best March runs.”


Rugby: Cal hosts PAC 7s tournament this weekend

Seven-man rugby, which will make its Olympic debut at the 2016 Games in Brazil, will be on display Saturday and Sunday when Cal is host to the PAC Rugby 7s Championship.

Ten schools from the Pac-12 Conference will participate in the event at Witter Rugby Field. The Bears, ranked second nationally, are chasing their third straight conference title. But the competition will be fierce — the event includes five teams ranked among the nation’s top 17.

Cal, collegiate rugby’s most successful program in the traditional 15-a-side game, is hosting a fall rugby 7s event for the first time. Teams will play two seven-minute halves with a one-minute halftime break in a wide-open, fast-paced game.

Pool play begins Saturday at 9 a.m. and runs through Sunday at 1:30 p.m., when the top two teams meet for the championship. The tournament features a total of 33 matches.

Rivals Cal and Stanford face off in the tournament’s first game in Pool A, which also includes Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State and USC. Pool B has Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Utah and Washington State.

Teams will be re-seeded before Sunday’s action.

Cal brings a 9-1 season record into the tournament, its one defeat coming at the hands of third-ranked UCLA by a 14-12 score in the West Coast Sevens title game at San Luis Obispo last month. The Bruins are 8-2, Stanford 6-1.

Also included in this week’s national rankings are No. 5 Arizona State, No. 14 Arizona and No. 17 Utah.

The Bears are 74-14 all-time in rugby 7s, including a 22-0 win over UCLA in last season’s PAC 7s title game, and 26-12 over Utah the year before.


Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

Daily admission is $10, $5 for kids 12-and-under and for seniors, and free for Cal students and children 2-and-under.


Basketball: Pac-12 tournament roundup

Here are semifinal results Friday from the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas:

UCLA 84, STANFORD 59: This one was never close. The second-seeded Bruins (25-8) had leads of 9-2, 25-4 and 41-21 in the first half on the way to clinching a spot in Saturday’s title game. Kyle Anderson had 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Norman Powell scored 22 points and Travis Wear made all eight of his shots to score 16.

Stanford (21-12), which essentially clinched its NCAA tournament bid with a win over Arizona State the night before, never threatened the Bruins. Dwight Powell scored 16 points and Chasson Randle had 11.

ARIZONA 63, COLORADO 43: The top-seeded Wildcats (30-3) pulled away in the second half to advance to Saturday’s championship game. Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson included a SportsCenter-worthy alley-oop dunk among his 16 points. T.J. McConnell had 12 points and five assists and Aaron Gordon filled the stat line with nine points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals.

Askia Booker scored 12 points and Xavier Johnson 11 for the Buffaloes (23-11), who shot just 22.7 percent in the second half and 29.4 percent for the game.


Basketball: Pac-12 tournament updates

Here’s a game-by-game roundup of action at the Pac-12 tournament:

STANFORD 79, ARIZONA STATE 58: The Cardinal (21-11) played one of its best games in six seasons under coach Johnny Dawkins to rout No. 3 seed ASU (21-11) and advance to a semifinal matchup vs. UCLA. Chasson Randle scored 21 points, Dwight Powell had all 15 of his in the second half and Stanford outscored the Sun Devils 49-31 in the second half.

ASU star point guard Jahii Carson, who already has announced he will leave school for the NBA, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with 10 points. He’d averaged 28.8 ppg in five previous career games played in Las Vegas. Carson, center Jordan Bachynski and wing Jermaine Marshall combined to shoot just 7 for 26.

UCLA 82, OREGON 63: Jordan Adams scored 15 points, Zach LaVine and Travis Wear each had 14 and the second-seeded Bruins (24-8) snapped an eight-game win streak by the Ducks. Kyle Anderson contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists for UCLA, which will face Stanford in a Friday semifinal.

The Bruins held just a 37-35 halftime lead, then erupted for 45 second-half points.

Joseph Young scored 29 for the Ducks (23-9), who shot just 8 for 26 from 3-point range.

ARIZONA 71, UTAH 39: It was not this close. The top-seeded Wildcats (29-3) led 34-13 at the half and continue to make a strong case they will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson scored a team-high 14 points in just 26 minutes, T.J. McConnell had 13 points and Aaron Gordon had 11 points and seven rebounds.

The Wildcats will face the winner of the Cal-Colorado game in Friday’s 6:06 p.m. semifinal.

No one scored in double digits for the Utes (21-11), who shot 12 for 47 (25.5 percent) for the game and had more turnovers (8) than baskets (5) in a  nightmarish first half.


Basketball: Colorado game thread

Click here to read my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Colorado 59, Cal 56. Cobbs’ 3-point try at the buzzer missed and the Bears (19-13)  likely will be denied their third straight NCAA tournament bid. Cobbs scored 21 points and Wallace had 13. The two combined to score Cal’s final 22 points. Solomon had 16 rebounds.

Usual post-game theme: Team didn’t play hard enough in the first half, then made a few critical mistakes at the finish after rallying. No Cal player or coach was willing to predict what might come Sunday, but Cobbs’ red, tear-filled eyes on the interview podium said it all.

6:30 2nd H: A steal and emphatic breakaway dunk by Cobbs and Cal trails just 49-48.

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