Cal Airballs Their Way To An Early Tournament Exit

If you even blinked between noon and 2 p.m. on Wednesday, you probably missed Cal's 2009 NCAA Tournament run. March Madness 2009 ended nearly as soon as it started for the Cal Golden Bears, with an 84-71 loss to the underdog Maryland Terrapins.

The Golden Bears came out firing those three-point bombs they lead the country at hitting -- except today they weren't hitting them. Cal hit only two of their first ten attempts from the arc, and if you're two-of-ten on your bread-and-butter maneuver, you're probably going to lose that game. But Maryland politely obliged Cal by shooting thirty percent from the field and not really even trying to rebound Cal's missed shots.

What kept this game close in the first half -- when Cal was pretty much just shooting an off-target and ugle three on virtually every possession -- was the Terrapins' constantly fouling Cal on their offensive rebound. Missing every three-point shot isn't so bad when you can count on those two free throws with every miss.

But missing every three-point shot is bad when the other team's Venezuelan superstar gets hot in the second half. Greivis Vasquez did greivous harm to Cal, stealing balls on defense and frustrating Patrick Christopher into fouling out with five minutes left in the game and and 0-7 performance from the premium three-point real estate.

So Cal's March Madness dreams bit the dust even faster than your dreams of winning your bracket pool. And that will spell the end for Bay Area teams in the Men's NCAA Tournament, as Cal was the only Northern California team competing. If you're a March Madness fan looking for Bay Area teams to root for, can we interest you in two very solid Final Four candidates? The Cal and Stanford womens' teams are now the highest-profile ballclubs we've got still involved in March Madness.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who just switched his allegiance to women's basketball. 

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