BERKELEY (KCBS) – The University of California at Berkeley women’s basketball team left Thursday for its first NCAA Tournament Final Four trip in the school’s history.

Hundreds of fans gathered at Haas Pavilion to see the team off, with performances by the school band and spirit squad. Among those in the crowd was Joan Parker of El Cerrito, who said she was just giddy about Cal’s first appearance in the Final Four.

“I am going to New Orleans to watch our wonderful basketball team,” she said. “I went to Seattle, Spokane and Lubbock and now I’m going to New Orleans.”

Parker played basketball at Cal in the early 60’s with her teammate Joanna Larson of Walnut Creek.

“When we first started, it was three guards and three forwards and we couldn’t even cross the half court line,” said Larson. “Then we had two rovers. And shortly after I left it became full court. They finally decided that women could do the same thing men do.”

Both Parker and Larson said a lot has changed over the years, but both feel a sense of pride that they helped build the program to where it is today.

The No. 2-seeded Golden Bears departed from Oakland International Airport at 12:30 p.m. for New Orleans, where they will play the No. 5 University of Louisville in the Final Four game on Sunday. The winner will take on the winner of the other semifinal game between Notre Dame and Connecticut.

Cal advanced to its first Final Four with a 65-62 overtime victory on Monday over the University of Georgia, which upset No. 1 Stanford University last weekend.

The Golden Bears’ game on Sunday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PDT and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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