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.”


Women’s basketball: Gray is Pac-12 Player of Year

Senior forward Reshanda Gray became the second Cal women’s player voted Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Gray joins Devanei Hampton, who won the award in 2007.

Meanwhile, teammate Brittany Boyd earned first-team all-conference honors for the third straight season. Boyd also was named to the all-defensive team.

Gray averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds for the Bears, shooting 57.6 percent from the field. Her 37 points against Sacramento State are the most scored by a Pac-12 player this season.

Cal’s Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green were voted by the league’s coaches to the all-freshman team. Mercedes Jefflo was named honorable mention all-defensive team.

Scott Rueck of regular-season champion Oregon State was voted Pac-12 Coach of the Year.


Women’s basketball: Boyd is Naismith semifinalist

Cal senior point guard Brittany Boyd has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy National Women’s College Player of the Year honor.

Boyd is the only Pac-12 player and the only player west of Texas to be selected as a semifinalist for the award, given to the top player in the country. The four finalists will be unveiled on Friday, March 20, and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 6.

The Berkeley High grad is averaging 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 3.0 steals. She is the nation’s only player with two triple-doubles, she ranks seventh nationally in assists and is the NCAA active leader with 353 steals. Her 19 rebounds against Sacramento State are the most by a guard from a “power five conference.”

Boyd is the only active NCAA player — and the only player in Pac-12 history — to compile career totals of at least 1,400 points, 700 rebounds, 600 assists and 300 steals.

Boyd also was named to the Wade Trophy (WBCA), Wooden Award (Los Angeles Athletic Club), Nancy Lieberman Award and Dawn Staley Award midseason watch lists.

Other semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy are: Lexie Brown, Maryland; Nina Davis, Baylor; Moriah Jefferson, Connecticut; Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame; Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State; Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina; Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut; Breanna Stewart, Connecticut; and Amanda Zahui B., Minnesota.


Football/basketball: Cal-related story links

Here are links to several stories we have today that relate to current or former Cal athletes:

— Running back Marshawn Lynch is close to releasing his film, “Family First: The Marshawn Lynch Story.” Click here to see the movie trailer.

— Former Cal placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio signs with the Oakland Raiders.

— Cal and Stanford guards are the headliners among top women’s basketball players in the Bay Area.



Women’s basketball: Gray, Bears top Stanford

Reshanda Gray had 17 points and nine rebounds, leading the Cal women to a 63-53 win over No. 18 Stanford at Maples Pavilion. The win ended Stanford’s 14-year reign as Pac-12 champion.

The victory also avenged a 59-47 defeat at Berkeley on Wednesday in which the Bears shot just 11 percent in the second half.

Mercedes Jefflo added 15 points and Brittany Boyd had 12 points and 13 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season as the Bears (20-7, 12-4) moved into a tie for third place in the Pac-12 standings with Stanford, clinching a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.

The Bears have beaten the Cardinal twice in three years on the road, including the 67-55 win in 2013 that snapped Stanford’s 81-game conference winning streak.

The victory was the 99th for Lindsay Gottlieb at Cal.

Cal outscored Stanford 13-2 at the free throw line and forced 17 turnovers.


Basketball: Cal women on track to host NCAAs

The Cal women, although not ranked in the Associated Press or USA Today Coaches top-25 polls, appear on their way to possibly hosting first- and second-round NCAA tournament games.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Committee revealed its preliminary list of the top 20 seeds Wednesday, and the list included Cal as one of the programs in contention to serve as an NCAA tournament host.

The NCAA uses a hosting model that will allow the top 16 seeds who meet championship hosting requirements to host first- and second-round games on March 20-23.

The Bears (18-5, 10-2 Pac-12) were among five Pac-12 teams listed on Wednesday’s top 20 reveal, along with Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington.

Cal, 17th in the latest RPI report, is riding a seven-game winning streak – five more than the next current active streak in the Pac-12.  Four of the Bears’ five losses came when All-Pac-12 selection Courtney Range was out due to injury.

“It’s important to keep in mind that (Wednesday’s) announcement has no bearing on the final bracket,” said Dru Hancock, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, “but we were able to identify those institutions that are a possible top-20 seed so that they can begin preparations to host first- and second-round play, while also building momentum towards the upcoming championship.”

The selection show will take place on Monday, March 16 at 4 p.m. (PT) and will air on ESPN.

California returns to action Thursday against UCLA at Haas Pavilion. Tip-off is 8 p.m. and the game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.


Women’s basketball: Bears topple No. 10 ASU

Freshman forward Penina Davidson scored a layup at the buzzer and the Golden Bears posted their first win over a top-10 team in two seasons with a 50-48 road conquest of No. 10 Arizona State.

Cal won despite playing the final 4:19 without senior point guard Brittany Boyd, injured in a hard collision.

Freshman Mikayla Cowling finished with a game-high 16 points to lead Cal (18-5, 10-2), now tied for second in the Pac-12 Conference. Reshanda Gray added 10 points and Boyd had nine before leaving the game.

The Bears finished the game with three freshmen and two sophomores on the floor.

Cal held ASU, the league’s third-best shooting team, to 32 percent from the field.