After the Bulldogs hit eight 3s in the first half Saturday, their accuracy dropped off and they made just four in the second half.
Brittany Boyd scored 21 points and added a career-high 13 rebounds to lead second-seeded California over Fresno State 90-76 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
No one was happier about Fresno State cooling off than Gottlieb.
"When they finally missed a 3-pointer, I just turned and high-fived someone on the side," she said. "We started switching on every ball screen. We had our bigs guarding Ki-Ki (Moore) and (Taylor) Thompson. I told them this is not what we usually do, but let's make it work."
Layshia Clarendon added 19 points and Gennifer Brandon had 17 points and 12 rebounds for California (29-3).
The Golden Bears fell behind early against the 15th-seeded Bulldogs, but found their footing midway through the first half to advance to play South Florida on Monday.
Ki-Ki Moore scored a career-high 33 points on 12-of-28 shooting and Rosie Moult added 15 to lead Fresno State (24-9).
The Bulldogs kept it close with their 3-point shooting, making 12 of 29 from beyond the arc. Moult hit 4 of 11 and Taylor Thompson hit 3 of 6 from 3-point range.
California outrebounded the Bulldogs 51-28. The Golden Bears scored 56 points in the paint and held the Bulldogs to 26.
"They're a very well built team," Bulldogs coach Raegan Pebley said. "They've got perimeter players that you have to respect enough from the 3-point line, they've got an inside game that is tremendous off the second chance, third chance, and fourth-chance opportunities, and that builds the perimeters confidence."
The Golden Bears shared the Pac-12 regular-season title with Stanford and began their 16-game win streak by beating the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif.
Brandon said Boyd's rebounding was great.
"I don't know when the last time was (that Boyd outrebounded me)," Brandon said. "I don't really pay attention to that, but she played beautiful and we got off on her energy and it was awesome, I love her as a point guard."
If the Golden Bears win their second-round game they will play in Spokane, Wash., and could possibly face Stanford for a third time this season in the regional semifinal.
Moore kept Fresno State in the game in the second half. She drove to the basket, hit from the outside and went 7 for 8 from the free throw line.
"No one on that team was surprised to be here, no one on that team was looking at the lights like this is a big stage," Gottlieb said. "They were confident and do what they do well and Ki-Ki is just a complete point guard. She got to the rim, she hit 3s, she was tough, she got steals."
Fresno State is still looking for its first NCAA tournament win, having failed to get a victory for the past six years.
California went up 61-48 with 12:57 remaining in the game on the second of two field goals by Clarendon. Then Moult and Moore hit back-to-back 3s to pull within 64-55, but that was as close as the Bulldogs would get the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs used 3-pointers to go up early in the first half against the Golden Bears. But then Cal, which hit on only 3 of 9 from the field early, used a 10-0 run, including two baskets each by Boyd and Reshanda Gray, to go up 19-13 with 9:16 remaining.
But Fresno State kept shooting from beyond the arc, and by halftime equaled its per game average of 3s this season, hitting eight.
The half ended when Moore missed a short jumper with six seconds remaining and Boyd grabbed the rebound and went nearly the length of the court to hit a 3 at the buzzer. Her only other 3 in the first half came on her first shot that opened the game.
Cal scored on 12 straight possessions to end the half leading 48-41.