Cal women draw Fordham in first round of NCAA Tournament 

click to enlarge Reshanda Gray, center, is averaging 17.6 points per game this season for Cal. - ELAINE THOMPSON/AP
  • Elaine Thompson/AP
  • Reshanda Gray, center, is averaging 17.6 points per game this season for Cal.

A year after making the Final Four, the Cal women's basketball team will be happy to leave Waco, Texas, with a pair of NCAA Tournament wins.

The Golden Bears (21-9) were seeded seventh in the Notre Dame Regional and will play 10th-seeded Fordham (25-7) on Saturday in Waco as the NCAA bracket was announced Monday. The winner faces either second-seeded Baylor or 15th-seeded Western Kentucky on Monday for a right to go to the Sweet 16.

"I'm excited for our players and the opportunity," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb told "I thought we'd be a six or seven [seed]. Either way you're going to have a tough first-round game and an opportunity to probably have to beat someone on their home floor. Whoever it is it doesn't matter. It's an exciting opportunity."

While the Rams are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, Cal is in the Big Dance for the third straight year. Fordham won the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament after finishing the regular season in a three-way tie for second place.

Defense is what carries the Rams. They hold opponents to 56.1 points per game and 36.7 percent shooting. In the A-10 tournament semifinals, Fordham limited St. Bonaventure to 16.7 percent shooting (9-of-54) in a 73-32 win, including 8 percent (2-of-24) and four points in the first half.

Fordham senior guard Erin Rooney was named first-team all-conference and is averaging 17.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, all team highs. Senior guard Abigail Corning is second on the Rams, averaging 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Cal finished tied for second in the Pac-12 Conference, but lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals. Junior forward Reshanda Gray leads the way for the Bears, averaging team highs of 17.6 points and 7.0 rebounds. Junior guard Brittany Boyd, a fellow first-team all-conference pick, averages 14.5 points and 6.8 points per game for Cal, which averages 70.4 points per game. Defense can be an issue for the Bears. They gave up 91 points to Washington State in their last game.

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