SPOKANE, Wash. — A strong second half and much better free throw shooting propelled California over LSU, sending the Bears to the round of eight for the first time in program history.
Layshia Clarendon scored 19 points to lead Cal to a 73-63 victory late Saturday night.
‘‘We are in the Elite Eight, one game away from New Orleans,’’ Clarendon said. ‘‘This is awesome.’’
In a ragged game in which neither team shot well, Cal made 26 of 41 free throws to stay ahead. That was significant because Cal missed eight of its last 11 free throws in its previous game against South Florida, and ended up needing overtime to win.
‘‘We need to step up and hit our free throws,’’ Clarendon said. ‘‘That’s what we finally did.’’
Clarendon had just 2 points in the first half, after which the teams were tied at 26. But she scored 17 in the second half as Cal outscored the Lady Tigers, 47-37, for the win.
‘‘We were us in the second half. We were Cal,’’ coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. ‘‘I’m so incredibly proud of this group.’’
Gennifer Brandon had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Brittany Boyd added 14 points for second-seeded Cal (31-3), which will play Georgia in the Spokane Regional final Monday night. Fourth-seeded Georgia beat top-seeded Stanford, 61-59, in Saturday’s opening semifinal.
Theresa Plaisance had 15 points and 12 rebounds for sixth-seeded LSU (22-12), who also got 15 points from Adrienne Webb.