Spokane Bound Cal Readies For Sweet 16
March 27, 2013
 California (30-3)
 LSU (22-11)
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena | Spokane, Wash.
Saturday, March 30 - 8:32 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
BERKELEY - Second-seeded California advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history and will face No. 6 seed LSU (22-11, 10-6 SEC) on Saturday, March 30 in Spokane, Wash. Top-seeded Stanford and four-seed Georgia will square off in the other Spokane Regional matchup with the winners of the two games meeting on Monday, April 1 for a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans.
The Pac-12 Co-Champions defeated Fresno State (90-76) and South Florida (82-78 OT) last week in Lubbock, Texas, to earn the program's second Sweet 16 bid. The Bears are the only non-No. 1 seed in the country to defeat one of the four No. 1 seeds, a feat Cal accomplished by knocking off Stanford (No. 1, Spokane Regional) 67-55, a victory that ended the Cardinal's 81-game conference winning streak.
California and LSU have met just once with the Lady Tigers taking a 65-56 victory on Dec. 17, 1981 at the Giusti Tournament. The Bears haven't met a team from the SEC since the 2006-07 season when Cal defeated Florida and lost to Vanderbilt in two November tournaments.
A CALIFORNIA WIN IN SATURDAY'S THIRD ROUND WOULD:
* Advance California to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history
* Give Cal 31 victories -- improving upon the current program best record
* Give Lindsay Gottlieb (55-13) her 56th victory as California head coach - increasing upon the best two-year win total in program history (Joanne Boyle won 54 games between 2007-09 with identical 27-7 records those two seasons)
* Give Lindsay Gottlieb her fourth NCAA Tournament win (3-1), surpassing Joanne Boyle for the most NCAA Tournament wins in program history.
CALIFORNIA WINS ON SATURDAY AND MONDAY WOULD:
* Make California just the third Pac-12 team to advance to a Final Four (USC, Stanford)
SEASON RECAP: Under second year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, California embarked on what has been the greatest regular season in program history with a 28-3 regular season record and 17-1 mark in Pac-12 play. The Bears opened with 12 wins in the first 13 games, the lone setback being a loss at then-No. 4 Duke before dropping a tight 62-53 decision to then-No. 5 Stanford (Jan. 8). Cal would not lose again in the regular season, rattling off 15 straight Pac-12 victories that started with a 67-55 win at Stanford (Jan. 13) five days later that ended the Cardinal's 81-game conference winning streak. The Bears would win every way imaginable en route to the Pac-12 title: overtime games (71-63 vs USC), blowout victories (79-51 at UCLA), come-from-behind victories (59-56 vs Colorado after trailing by 16 points and 58-56 vs Oregon State after trailing by 17 points), outstanding individual performances (Gennifer Brandon's 23-point, 26-rebound outing vs USC), balanced efforts (five double-digit scorers vs Arizona) and under pressure (78-50 at Washington to clinch first Pac-12 title).
CLARENDON NAMED WADE TROPHY AWARD FINALIST: Senior guard Layshia Clarendon has been announced as one of 12 finalists in contention for The State Farm Wade Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's most outstanding NCAA Division 1 women's basketball player. Clarendon, also a Naismith Award candidate and a Senior CLASS Award finalist, leads California with 16.0 points per game and was a unanimous All-Pac-12 selection in addition to being named the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. Just the seventh Golden Bear to hit the 1,600-point mark in a career, Clarendon has led the Bears in scoring in 13 of their 18 Pac-12 games. Well respected both on and off the court, Clarendon has also been selected as a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection this year.
ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS: California won the first Pac-12 championship in program history, ending the season as co-champions with Stanford with a 17-1 conference record after sweeping the Washington schools last weekend. Since women's basketball became an official Pac-10/Pac-12 sport in the 1986-87 season, California's previous best finish had been second place (2007-08, 2008-09, 2011-12). The sole conference championships in program history were back-to-back NorCal titles in 1980-81 and 1981-82.
GOTTLIEB NAMED NAISMITH COACH OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb has been named one of four finalists for the Naismith Women's Coach of the Year award alongside Baylor's Kim Mulkey, Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw and Dayton's Jim Jabir. The second-year head coach led the Golden Bears to a 27-2 record and 17-1 finish in conference play - both program bests in 39 years of California women's basketball. The Bears ended the season on a 15-game winning streak and were awarded a program-best No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed. Earning praise for her ability to gameplan and make in-game adjustments, Gottlieb became just the fifth coach to win a Pac-12 title in her first two seasons as a head coach in the conference. She is the only active coach in the Pac-12 to lead her team to a road victory at Stanford's Maples Pavilion, a feat she accomplished with a 67-55 victory on January 13 that ended the Cardinal's 81-game conference winning streak.
BECOMING ELITE: The Bears spoke this season of becoming one of the "elite" teams in NCAA women's basketball after seeing flashes in 2011-12, and Cal's victory at Stanford may have been what was needed to join that discussion. After close losses last year to No. 2 Stanford, No. 12 Ohio State, No. 16 Rutgers, No. 24 Texas and No. 4 Notre Dame, the Bears have this season knocked off No 19 Kansas (88-79), No. 20 Colorado twice (55-50; 59-56), No. 5 Stanford (67-55) and No. 14 UCLA twice (70-65; 79-51). The Bears are the only team outside the AP & RPI Top 4 to beat a team in the AP and the RPI top 4. Cal's lone losses this year are at No. 5 Duke, verse No. 4 Stanford and verse No. 11 UCLA.
CAL ON THE BOARDS: Senior Talia Caldwell and junior Gennifer Brandon combine to make the Cal post players possibly the most dominant on the boards in the NCAA as Cal ranks third in the country with a +11.6 rebounding margin. Brandon is second on the Pac-12 active list 1004 rebounds, and Caldwell is not far behind at No. 3 on the active list with 984 boards. No other duo in the Pac-12 combines for over 1,700 rebounds, let alone the 1,984 by these two.
BREAKING HER OWN MARK: Junior Gennifer Brandon currently sits with 361 rebounds on the year and broke her own single-season rebounding record of 346 set last season. Brandon, who at this point already owns three of the top seven single-season marks in Cal history, also has the opportunity to pass Colleen Galloway's 10.4 rebounds per game in 1978-78 as the all-time best mark. Brandon currently averages 11.3 rebounds per game.
PICK YOUR WEAPON: One thing Coach Gottlieb is preaching this season is the balanced options that her team possesses on the offensive end of the court, and the numbers back up that assertion. Three Bears average double figures scoring, and the third through sixth leading scorers all average between 7.2 and 9.2 points. Mikayla Lyles's 14-point display at Stanford continued the mantra that any Bear can pace the team on any given day.
BOYD RETURNS BETTER THAN EVER: Sophomore point guard Brittany Boyd missed the Oregon home game (Feb. 22) due to a groin strain but made her return to the lineup in the following Sunday's come-from-behind victory over Oregon State. The two-year starter dressed and was available against the Ducks, but the Bears showed their depth with Eliza Pierre filling in on a 77-55 win. It was the first missed game of Boyd's career, but in her seven games since the injury Boyd has averaged 13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game, including near double-doubles in NCAA First and Second Round games against Fresno State (21p-13r-9a) and USF (12p-8r-8a).