March 6, 2013
KeyArena | Seattle, Wash.
BERKELEY - Fresh off the first Pac-12 title in program history, California begins its quest for a Pac-12 Tournament championship this week at KeyArena in Seattle. The Bears will begin tournament play Friday at 12 noon against USC, which defeated Oregon State in the opening round.
Cal (27-2, 17-1 Pac-12) will carry the No. 2 seed in the tournament by virtue of the third tiebreaker with co-champions Stanford. The Bears and Cardinal (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12) split the series and both went unbeaten against the rest of the conference, allowing Stanford to obtain the No.1 seed due to an overall higher winning percentage with Stanford playing and winning one more game than Cal.
The Bears swept both USC (10-19, 7-11 Pac-12) and Oregon State (10-20, 4-14 Pac-12) this season, however both teams gave the Bears a scare in the games held at Haas Pavilion. California defeated USC 71-63 in overtime at Haas and took a 72-64 decision in Los Angeles. The Bears held on for a 58-56 win over Oregon State at Haas but took a decisive 60-38 win in Corvallis.
Fans can listen to Dave Lewis and Rachelle Federico's live call of the game on CalBears.com's premium All-Access player for a monthly fee.
A CALIFORNIA WIN IN FRIDAY'S QUARTERFINAL WOULD:
PAC-12 CHAMPIONS: Lindsay Gottlieb opened the door to the California locker room and was greeted with a stream of water bottles drenching Cal's young coach. It was a minor sacrifice in celebrating California's first Pac-12 regular season title in school history. Talia Caldwell made 10 of 11 shots and finished with 22 points, and the Bears claimed a share of the Pac-12 Conference regular season title for the first time with a 78-50 win over Washington. Cal won their 15th straight and got a piece of their first conference crown along with Bay Area rival Stanford. The Cardinal defeated Washington State earlier Saturday to ensure they would at worst share the title with California. Gottlieb became just the fifth coach in conference history to win a league title in her first two years as a head coach.
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 PAC-12 COACH OF THE YEAR BY MEDIA: Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was honored by the media as the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. 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 are in position for either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed at the upcoming NCAA Tournament. 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.
FOUR BEARS EARN ALL-PAC-12 HONORS: For the second consecutive year, California's Brittany Boyd, Gennifer Brandon and Layshia Clarendon all were named to the Coaches All-Pac-12 team, the conference office announced Tuesday. In addition, Eliza Pierre and Clarendon earned All-Defensive team honors.
MORE ON GOTTLIEB'S FEAT: Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb became just the fifth head coach in the history of the conference to win a regular season title in her first two seasons as a head coach in the league. The select few:
Chris Gobrecht - Washington - 2nd Season - 1987-88 - 16-2 Pac-10
CHASING 16: California enters the tournament in the midst of a Pac-12-leading and program-best 15-game winning streak, surpassing the 12 consecutive overall and 11 consecutive conference game winning streaks that were set in the 2008-09 season.
DON'T PITY AFURE: Junior Afure Jemerige has been hot of late for the Golden Bears, punctuated by a 5-of-11 (3-of-5 from 3) effort against Oregon and a 14-point first half Thursday night at Washington State that included four 3s in the opening 20 minutes. Jemerigbe has shot 14-of-34 (.400) from beyond the arc in Cal's last six games to help prevent teams from packing in the paint.
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 seventh in the country with a +11.1 rebounding margin. Caldwell is second on the Pac-12 active list 956 rebounds, and Brandon is not far behind at No. 3 on the active list with 952 boards. No other duo in the league combines for over 1,650 rebounds, let alone the 1,908 by these two.
BREAKING HER OWN MARK: Junior Gennifer Brandon - sitting at 309 rebounds on the year - is 37 rebounds shy of 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 11.0 rebounds per game.
BOYD RETURNS FROM INJURY: Sophomore point guard Brittany Boyd missed the Oregon home game 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 three games since the injury Boyd has averaged 9.3 points, 8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, including her fourth double-double of the season at Washington in the finale (15p-10r).
BOYD'S A BALLER: Brittany Boyd, who can seemingly light up a stat sheet in every possible manner and has routinely flirted with triple-doubles this season. On the year, Boyd has put up four double-double games - all by using three different combination of stats. Against Eastern Washington, Boyd had 13 points and 10 assists. At Oregon State, Boyd had 10 points and 11 rebounds. At UCLA, Boyd had 14 points and 10 steals. At Washington, Boyd returned to her points-rebounds combo with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
IN THE RANKINGS: California jumps up to No. 5 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches' polls this week, the first time the Bears have been ranked in the top five since a No. 4 ranking on Feb. 23, 2009. The highest ranking in program history belongs to the 2008-09 team that climbed as high as No. 3 in the country. That team, led by Alexis Gray-Lawson, went on to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 with a 27-8 final record. Four teams on this year's schedule - Stanford (4), Duke (6), UCLA (14) and Colorado (18) - are ranked this week.
RPI: California clocks in at No. 8 in the fifth RPI report of the season, holding steady from the previous report. The Bears have played one of the country's toughest schedules and played a balanced mix of home and away games.
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 7.1 and 9.1 points. Mikayla Lyles's 14-point display at Stanford continued the mantra that any Bear can pace the team on any given day.
NAISMITH AWARD (Atlanta Tip-off Club): Clarendon has been named as one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Naismith Women's College Basketball Player of the Year award presented by AT&T. -- 2/27/13
ANN MEYERS DRYSDALE AWARD (USBWA): Brandon has been selected as one of 20 players named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's 2013 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Midseason Watch List, an award presented annually to the women's national player of the year as voted on by the organization's membership. -- 2/26/13