March 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The California Golden Bears advanced to the semifinals with a 68-59 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes. The Bears will take on Washington State on Friday, March 9 at 2:30 the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Cal blazed through the first three minutes of the game, forcing four turnovers. On the offensive end, freshman forward Reshanda Gray got a putback at the 16:56 mark to give Cal a 10-0 lead to open the game.
The Buffs all-conference guard Chucky Jeffery put an end to the run and started the scoring for Colorado. The Buffs started taking better care of the ball, cutting down on the turnovers to get back into the game, pulling to within five, 11-6, at the 14:24 mark. A layup by sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe at the 13:19 mark ended the Cal scoring drought and got the Bears offense back on track.
Redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon was fouled while driving to the hoop. She converted both free throws at the 11:21 mark to push Cal back up by double digits, 21-11. Sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert followed with a three-pointer. A layup by Brandon extended the Cal run and the Cal lead, giving the Bears a 27-11 advantage with 5:22 left in the first half.
Colorado went a full five minutes without scoring, finally ending the drought and a 9-0 Cal run with a jumper at the 4:35 mark. All-conference junior guard Layshia Clarendon immediately answered with a pull-up jumper, her first points of the game, to give Cal a 29-13 lead with just under four minutes left in the half. The Buffs hit a pair of key three-pointers to pull back into the game, 29-21 with two minutes left in the half. Clarendon banked a jumper off the glass to give Cal a moment of breathing room. Colorado hit their third three of the half on the other end. Clarendon again answered with a jumper. The Buffs drained their fourth three, the third hit by Brittany Wilson, with 20 seconds left in the half. Clarendon hit another two-pointer to close out the half with the Bears going into the locker room with a 35-27 lead.
The Buffs scored the first four points of the second half, making it a 35-31 contest with 18:21 left in the game. Freshman point guard Brittany Boyd got the Bear offense started, spinning for a reverse layup to make it 37-31 with just under 18 to play. Sherbert hit her second three-pointer of the game at the 16:42 mark, giving Cal a 42-33 advantage.
After a five minute span in which neither team hit a field goal, the Buffs Ashley Wilson hit a jumper right in front of the net to make it a 43-35 game with 11:32 remaining.
The Bears went 9:21 without hitting a field goal, a streak that was ended by a putback by Brandon. The Bears managed to build a ten point lead, 52-42, despite the bucketless-span, by making eight free throws over that time. The whistle-heavy game had both teams in the double bonus with over six minutes to play.
The Bears held a 57-51 lead with three minutes left in the game. Boyd got a feed into the low post to Caldwell with two seconds left on the shot clock to give Cal another two, 59-51, with 2:24 left in the game.
After the two teams traded turns at the charity stripe, the Bears held a 61-53 advantage when Colorado's Jeffrey scored a quick bucket. After an even quicker foul and a free throw from Clarendon, the game headed into the final minute with Cal leading a 62-55.
The Bears went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to close out the game and seal a 68-59 victory.
Layshia Clarendon scored a team-high 12 points. Talia Caldwell (11), Reshanda Gray (10) and Lindsay Sherbert (11) also scored in double figures. Sherbert went 3-for-4 from the field, hitting a pair of three-pointers.
The Bears advance to the semifinal for the sixth consecutive year. Only once have the Bears advanced to the championship game and they are still looking for their first tournament championship.
The action moves to the Staples Center with the semifinal game tipping at 2:30 pm on Friday. The game will be carried live on Fox Sports Net and broadcast in the Bay Area on CSN Bay Area.