Cal back in NCAA tournament with all first-timers

JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer Published:

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- On the bus after California's season ended last year in the second round of the WNIT, several players made a vow to change.

They called a mandatory team meeting. The next postseason trip would be for the NCAA tournament and nothing less.

The Golden Bears aren't sure who actually brought the group together in the locker room that day. Eliza Pierre thinks it was Talia Caldwell, who figures it must have been fellow junior Layshia Clarendon.

Clarendon has no idea -- and it hardly matters now. Cal is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since a run to the regional semifinals in 2009 capped a stretch of four straight NCAA berths.

First-year coach Lindsay Gottlieb's eighth-seeded Bears (24-9) open Sunday against Iowa.