2016 Pac-12 Women's Tournament: Cal's inspired tourney run ends
SEATTLE -- Thank you, Cal women’s basketball; that’s the collective cry from fans and media alike here in Seattle. Thank you for an overtime nail-biter on Thursday. For the biggest upset in Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament history on Friday. For another 45-minute thriller on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Berkeley faithful, the last overtime game was the end of the road for the Golden Bears at Key Arena, as tenth-seeded Cal came up just short in a 73-67 overtime loss to third-seeded UCLA in the semifinals, spending every ounce of energy it had in the hard-fought defeat.
“I’d like to talk about the kids in our locker room. And I told them in there, celebrating is the most fun part, and winning is really fun,” an emotional Gottlieb said. “But the second-best thing in some weird way is having your guts ripped out and feeling like you want to cry, because that means you left everything out there, and I think our players did that today.”
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For much of Saturday's action, Cal looked like it was going to pull off another inspired upset. The Golden Bears had weathered Kristine Anigwe’s stint on the bench after she picked up her fourth foul with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter and went up three with a chance for more in the final 30 seconds of regulation. However, Gabby Green missed two free throws and Kari Korver hit a game-tying 3-pointer while getting fouled to send the game to the extra session.
“She’s one heck of a player. I credit her for knocking it down,” junior forward Courtney Range said of Korver. “She was just in the right spot at the right time and she just knocked it down.”
Jordin Canada took over in overtime, scoring six straight points for the Bruins to create separation. By the end of overtime, Cal was missing mostly everything short from the perimeter. It looked as if Cal had simply run out of gas.
Still, it was a ride to remember for Cal, its fans and everyone who had a chance to cover it. From Mikayla Cowling’s game-winning jumper that sent Utah packing, to Cal’s tournament-record 69-percent shooting performance against No. 2 ASU, to the emergence of Penina Davidson, to the hustle plays of Gabby Green and the overall dominance of Kristine Anigwe, it was a whole lot of fun to watch.
While this might be so long for this year, don’t forget about Cal come 2016-17. The Golden Bears returns everyone from its 2015-16 seven-player rotation that featured three top-15 recruits, three more top-100 talents out of high school and a member of the New Zealand Women’s National Team. They have three more years of Kristine Anigwe, who could break all sorts of records at Cal in the Pac-12. The cupboard is far from bare in Berkeley.
“I think I’m going to remember when we’re really, really good again and we’re doing all the things we want to do, I am not going to forget what it took to get there,” Gottlieb said. “I am not going to forget that it’s not easy sometimes. I’m not going to forget that our players stuck with me, stuck with each other, and stuck with us when it’s not easy to do so when you’re not winning, and they found something this weekend that was the starting point for where we’re going to go.”