BERKELEY, Calif. – Fourth-seeded California and fifth-seeded Texas head a field of four teams coming to Berkeley this weekend when the University of California plays host to first- and second-round games in the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.
Haas Pavilion will welcome four participants to the Albany Regional for first-round games on Friday, March 20, at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. PT. Fifth-seeded Texas will face 12th-seeded Conference USA champion Western Kentucky in the early game with fourth-seeded California and 13th-seeded Wichita State taking the court in the second contest. The two winners will tip-off a second-round game at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, March 22. All games will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Team practices on Thursday, March 19 are closed to the general public, which differs from previous years.
California (23-9, 13-5 Pac-12) earned an at-large berth into the tournament and will make its fourth consecutive appearance and 11th overall. The Bears advanced to the second round of the tournament in 2014, after reaching the Final Four in 2013. Cal won eight straight games from Jan. 18-Feb. 12 and is led by fourth-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Senior forward Reshanda Gray leads the team with 17.5 ppg and also averages 7.2 rpg, while fellow senior guard Brittany Boyd scores 13.3 ppg and grabs a team-high 7.7 rpg.
Texas (22-10, 9-9 Big 12) earned an at-large berth into the championship and is making its 27th appearance in school history. Texas is guided by third-year head coach Karen Aston and earn its highest seed since 2005 when it was a three-seed. The Longhorns reached the second round last season and claimed a national title in 1986. Texas is led statistically by senior forward Nneka Enemkpali, who averages 12.4 ppg and 10.4 rpg for the Longhorns. Additionally, sophomore center Kelsey Lang and freshman guard Ariel Adkins both average double figures at 10.9 and 10.0, respectively.
Wichita State (29-4, 17-1 MVC) received the automatic bid from the Missouri Valley Conference after claiming the conference tournament title on Sunday. The Shockers enter the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season under sixth-year head coach Jody Adams and set a new school record for wins with 29. Senior Alex Harden leads the team in scoring at a 16.8 ppg and on the boards at 5.9 rpg. Senior guard Jamillah Bonner and junior guard Michaela Dapprich also average in double figures in scoring, averaging 13.0 and 12.4 ppg, respectively for the Shockers.
Western Kentucky (30-4, 16-2 C-USA) captured the automatic bid from Conference USA when it knocked off Southern Miss in the conference title game this past Saturday. The Lady Toppers make their 18th appearance in the NCAA tournament and second straight trip. Western Kentucky was a national semifinalist in 1985. The Lady Toppers are led by third-year head coach Michelle Clark-Heard. Senior forward Chastity Gooch leads Western Kentucky in scoring at a 17.0 ppg clip and also grabs 6.9 rpg, while senior guard Alexis Govan scores 16.7 ppg for the Lady Toppers.
Tickets for the NCAA first- and second-round games are on sale through the Cal Athletic Ticket Office at the women’s basketball ticketing page on CalBears.com and through 800-GO BEARS (800-462-3277). Tickets will go on sale to season ticket holders at 6 p.m. tonight. Current season ticket holders will have an exclusive window to purchase until 12 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, when tickets will be opened to the general public. Because the NCAA tournament is not a home event, season ticket holders will not be guaranteed their same seats. All-session passes range from $25-40 for adults, with less expensive options for youth and seniors. Individual-session tickets become available Tuesday at noon PT on March 17.