The Cal women’s basketball team is certainly familiar with facing top-notch competition, having played the nation’s No. 2 team, Stanford, three times this season.
So with the top seed in the Raleigh Regional, Notre Dame (31-3), up next for the Bears (25-9) in the NCAA Tournament today, Cal isn’t pushing the panic button.
“I think we are definitely ready for the challenge, and them being a No. 1 team does not mean much for us right now,” Cal junior guard Eliza Pierre said.
In Cal’s tournament-opening victory against Iowa, five players scored in double figures. The Bears’ balance is one of their strengths and will need to be counted on to get past the Fighting Irish, who average 79.4 points per game, second-best in the country.
“I think the major matchup challenge is that they play four guards, they spread you out in a four out one in and the challenge is to take away the things that come easy to them and force tough shots,” said Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who didn’t have a player on her roster with tournament experience prior to this season.
Notre Dame, which is led by star guard Skylar Diggins (16.7 ppg), also has the advantage of playing the game on its home court.