LUBBOCK, Texas -- Cal women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb is sticking to her original assessment of Fresno State -- No. 15 seeds don't get much tougher than the Bulldogs.
The Bears won their NCAA tournament opener for the second straight year, topping Fresno State 90-76 on Saturday at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.
But Cal, seeded No. 2 in the Spokane region, took awhile to seize control against the hot-shooting Bulldogs (24-9). And though the Bears led the entire second half, it was never by too comfortable a margin.
"Fresno State did not feel like a 15 seed from the moment I watched film and they certainly didn't play like one," Gottlieb said. "They did what they do very, very well today and it took everything we had to lock them up at least a little bit."
Ultimately, Cal (29-3) was too big inside and too good on the boards. A near triple-double performance by sophomore point guard Brittany Boyd also helped.
Now, Cal sets its sights on reaching the Sweet 16 for just the second time in program history. The Bears will need to beat No. 10 South Florida in the round of 32 at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Cal and Fresno State were locked into a tight game when Boyd pulled up for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent the Bears into the locker room with a 48-41 halftime lead. Momentum stuck with Cal, which steadily added to its lead, keeping a double-digit advantage for the final seven minutes.
Boyd finished with 21 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and nine assists. She was also solid handling the ball when the Bulldogs went to their pressure defense.
"More than anything, that's a young woman who loves the big stage," Gottlieb said. "She's good for us all year, but put her in the postseason, the TV and the lights and she just a special player. She rises to the occasion and I think we needed it today."
Gennifer Brandon also had a double-double, her 17th of the season, with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow post players Talia Caldwell (14 points) and Reshanda Gray (12) also scored in double figures, along with guard Layshia Clarendon (19).
Ki-Ki Moore, the Mountain West Conference's Defensive Player of the Year and the Bulldogs' top scorer, was one of the biggest reasons Fresno State stayed in the game for so long. The former Washington State guard, who went to high school with Cal's Tierra Rogers at Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco, was disruptive on defense and scored a career-high 33 points in her final college basketball game.
Fresno State hit eight 3-pointers before halftime until Cal adjusted the way it defended on-ball screens. Fresno State hit 12 shots from beyond the arc total, the most a Cal team has ever given up in the NCAA tournament.
"Everyone can shoot on their team, from post players to guards," Boyd said. "We had to make some adjustments ... They were very good shooters and went to the rim, too."
Cal got off to a slow start offensively, but ended up shooting 56.8 percent in the opening half, scoring on its final 12 possessions.
The Bears finished with a 51-28 rebounding advantage against the smaller Bulldogs.