Neville E. Guard / USA TODAY Sports

RECAP: Jabari Bird and Ivan Rabb lead a resurgent second half for Cal in the Bears' win over rival Stanford

Cal rebounds from a 37% shooting first half to go 11-of-17 from the field and 5-of-8 from three after the break for a 66-55 win over rival Stanford.

Sunday's California-Stanford rivalry game was a positively putrescent, predominantly pathetic, putrid performance, a pairing of painfully paralytic participants with a paucity of anything resembling offensive productivity, at least for the first half.

The only players who weren't positively passive over the first 20 minutes were Jabari Bird and Ivan Rabb, and even the sophomore preseason All-American forward struggled mightily against the Cardinal double team.

"They hit us in the mouth early," Bird said. "We just needed to start making open shots." wasn't until the Cardinal's Josh Sharma hit a game-tying shot at 3:36 that the two teams combined for more field goal makes than turnovers in the first half (19 makes, 15 turnovers). Over the first half, the two teams combined to shoot 19-of-48 (39.5%). Cal and Stanford combined to make just four of their first 19 combined shots.

But, then came Bird. With a half-court lob from Grant Mullins at 1:50, Bird slammed home a two-handed jam to give Cal a 25-20 lead (Cal's largest of the night at that point) finally breaking through the pallor of the first 18 minutes as the sell-out 11,877 crowd at Haas Pavilion rose to its feet. Bird scored seven points in the final 11 minutes of the first half, and then exploded for 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the second, finishing with 17 in the 66-55 win.

"First half, shots weren't going in, but they looked good; they felt good," Rabb said. 

Rabb tallied his 10th double-double of the season, scoring 25 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. It was his first double-double since Jan. 14 against Washington State.

Over the first 11 minutes, Rabb had just one shot, even though, he said, his plan was to come out aggressive. An and-one where he wagged his finger at the Stanford bench with 7:20 to go, though, seemed to energize him.

Rabb scored 10 points before the break, going 4-of-5, but found his touches constantly haunted by the Cardinal double team, and he passed out quickly, rather than let plays develop, which kept the perimeter in a constant state of motion, trying to create shots without much distraction from the post. With 17:08 to go, Rabb did hold on and worked the ball around to an open Bird, but his three try wound its way in and out of the hoop.

"Both teams, in the first half, did a good job of playing hard, playing physical and being aggressive," said Bears head coach Cuonzo Martin. "They did probably the best job blitzing the post that Ivan's ever seen. They had a lot to do with what we didn't do in the first half."

First half struggles are nothing new for the Bears (15-6, 6-3 in Pac-12). Cal shot 10-of-27 from the field in the first stanza, just over their season-long first-half pace (40.2%), and the Bears' 25 points were the third-lowest they've scored in a half this season.

A pair of three-pointers to start the second (one from Rabb, his second on the game, and one from Mullins) gave Cal a 33-25 lead with 16:02 to go. The Bears only committed one turnover in the first five minutes of the second half, after committing five over the first eight minutes of the first.

Cal went 11-of-17 from the field after the break (64.7%), and 5-of-8 from three-point range, snapping out its funk while Stanford (11-10, 3-6) went 10-of-28 in the second, and 19-of-49 from the field on the night. "They did a nice job of adjusting, getting the ball into the paint," said Cardinal coach Jerod Haase, after his last game in this building, as a Cal player, playing alongside Jason Kidd.

"It's real simple: It was Ivan," Martin said. "Guys on the perimeter were shot ready, and the biggest part was that Ivan was assertive around the rim."

Once both Bird and Rabb got in sync, it was off to the races. With 12:11 to go, Rabb was doubled on the right block, and though his pass across the paint to Kameron Rooks was too high, Bird was right behind him to pick it up. Bird passed up top to Sam Singer, who found a slashing Bird on the baseline for the reverse, giving Cal a 41-30 lead.

Rabb, who had been 14-for-21 in his last three games from the free throw line, went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe in the second stanza, as he found ways to draw fouls against the double team.

Bird then hit two straight threes to keep pace with Reid Travis, who scored 10 straight points for Stanford (and a team-high 17 on the night) to cut the lead to 47-40 with 7:45 to go.

"He's a real physical player who knows that he can play his own game," Rabb said of Travis. "He kind of carried them a little at the end."

It was after Travis exited with 9:49 to go in the first half that Rabb really got going, and he didn't stop throughout the rest of the game.

The Cardinal, though, would not go away. Despite the talent disparity to Cal's advantage, the Bears could not put Stanford away. Then, thanks to a missed floater by freshman Charlie Moore, Rabb came on, first with a put-back of the Moore miss, and then with a big block on Travis with 3:40 to go, drawing forward Michael Humphrey's fourth foul. Moore had arguably his best game as a true point guard, dishing out eight assists, with three turnovers, scoring a modest four points."He did a great job breaking the defense down, finding shooters, getting it to Ivan for those lobs," Bird said.

"He did a great job of taking what the defense gives him," Rabb said.

"Charlie can score the ball, but they guard Charlie a certain way, make his looks hard. The key for Charlie, you want to leave the game with 10 assists," Martin said. "That's who you want to leave the game."

With Stanford reeling, Rabb hit another pair of free throws, and Mullins swished a three from the right wing, giving the Bears a 13-point lead with 3:03 to go. Cal out-scored Stanford 41-30 after the break.

"It's just another win," Bird smirked. "We're just happy about that. Any time you can beat a rival team, especially at home, it's my last time against them on my home court, so it means a little bit extra." Top Stories