Bears collapse in second half, fall to Notre Dame in NCAA tourney second round

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The Cal women’s basketball team fell, 73-62, to top-seed Notre Dame in Purcell Pavilion in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bears kept the first half of Tuesday’s contest close. The team was utterly at a loss to break Notre Dame’s zone defense; unable to play to its usual strategy of beating opponents at the boards, Cal sputtered through the first 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Notre Dame found the charity stripe time and again and finished 11-of-12 in the first half.

The main thing that kept Cal in the first half was the fact that the Fighting Irish couldn’t connect with shots, either: Notre Dame finished out the half with an abysmal 34.5 percent from the field.

With a little under four minutes in the first half, Cal found a spark on a jumper from Layshia Clarendon. Then, the team launched an 8-0 run to tie the score. The two teams entered the locker room knotted at 31.

But Cal couldn’t keep up the run in the final period. In a word, the team collapsed. Eight of the team’s first 11 possessions resulted in turnovers; in fact, the Bears ended the second half with a staggering 12 turnovers.

Notre Dame got the first basket of the second half and quickly exploited Cal’s disconnect. The Bears could never claw their way back into the game and the gap between the teams widened; the closest Cal came to Notre Dame was still a 10-point deficit.

This year’s trip to the NCAA was the Bears’ first since 2009.

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