Cal finished last in the Pac-12, so it can't complain about matchups in the women's Pac-12 basketball tournament that starts Wednesday.
Nonetheless, the Bears probably got the worst possible opponent for their first-round game -- Oregon State.
The 12th-seeded Bears (1-15, 1-12 Pac-12) will face fifth-seeded Oregon State (9-6, 7-6 Pac-12) in the very first game of the tournament at 11 a.m. at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The Beavers may be the hottest team in the Pac-12, having won three in a row, with the last two coming against ranked teams -- UCLA and Oregon -- both on the road. Oregon State's only loss since Jan. 24 came against conference champion Stanford.
Oregon State is the only Pac-12 team Cal has not faced this season, and Cal coach Charmin Smith is not counting her team out.
"Win," Smith said when asked what she wanted to get out of the Pac-12 tournament. "We've seen some of these team multiple times, and we think we're much better than we were in January or even just two weeks ago. And so we're going to Vegas to try to win a game and see how long we can stay. We've had a lot of growth on this team and we're going to keep fighting."
Cal did not place any players on the 15-player All-Pac-12 squad or on the five-player all-freshman team, although Dalayah Daniels did receive honorable mention on the all-freshman team. She is the only Cal player averaging in double figures at 12.0 per game.
The Bears lost their final regular-season game to fourth-ranked Stanford 72-33, but they got their only win in the game before that, a 67-55 victory over Arizona State on Feb. 21.
Season-ending injuries to several key players affected Cal's season, and the Bears typically start three freshmen and two sophomores.
If the Bears win Wednesday's game, they would face Oregon in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday before an off day Saturday. The finals are scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
Stanford is the favorite, but second-seeded Arizona is ranked 11th this week, No. 3 seed UCLA is ranked ninth, and Oregon is ranked 19th.
Cover photo of Leilani McIntosh by Kayla Lawrence
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