SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)
California is a relative newcomer in the history of the NCAA women's tournament, appearing in the round of 16 for only the second time.
A win over sixth-seeded LSU on Saturday night will put the No. 2 seed Golden Bears in the regional finals for the first time in program history.
California (30-3) has already set a number of school records this year, whether it was the most single-season victories or claiming a share of the Pac-12 regular season title for the first time. The Golden Bears have only been in the round of 16 once previously, back in 2009 when they were knocked out by Connecticut 77-53.
The Golden Bears got past Fresno State in their opener, then blew a late lead against South Florida before rallying for an overtime win in the second round. Because getting this far in the tournament is such a rare occurrence at Cal, coach Lindsay Gottlieb is letting her players embrace and enjoy their success - as long as they don't lose focus.
"We're having so much fun in this awesome experience, we're not ready to stop playing yet,'' guard Layshia Clarendon said. "I think it's more of a motivating factor. We have broken a lot of records this season, we made history, Cal history. So to go to the Elite Eight, we're one game from it. It's not this far off thing that we can't reach.''
LSU (22-11) getting to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008 was stunning considering how short-handed the Lady Tigers were against No. 3 seed Penn State. Granted, LSU was playing at home, but had just seven healthy players in its 71-66 upset of Penn State, led by Adrienne Webb's career-high 29 points. Even though 2008 was the last time getting to the round of 16, LSU has been highly successful at this point of the tournament, winning seven straight regional semifinal matchups.
The Tigers still aren't sure if they'll have guard Jeanne Kenney available. Kenney suffered a concussion in the first-round win over Wisconsin-Green Bay and did not play against Penn State. LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said she won't ask Kenney to play any differently if she's able to go.
"That's how she plays this game,'' Caldwell said. "She plays it with a high level of intensity, she's a competitor and she will sacrifice her body.''