But that rivalry will have to wait another day, as Stanford beat the young Bears in every facet of the game en route to a decisive 69-44 victory. Cal falls to 11-4 overall and 2-3 in the Pac-10 while Stanford improves to 11-3 and 5-0. The loss will probably drop Cal out of the top 25 rankings.
The Cardinal was led by freshman Jayne Appel with 19 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, and Candice Wiggins again proved herself in another league altogether with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Ashley Walker had a strong game for the Bears with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Freshmen Rama N'diaye and Lauren Greif chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively.
"All the credit goes to them," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle. "They've been playing great basketball. They came out and played unbelievably tonight. But this is how they've been playing lately. I thought we had a good game plan early, but then [Kristen] Newlin came out and hit some shots."
|GoldenBearSports.com, Michael Pimentel
Behind Newlin's three long jumpers at the beginning of the game, Stanford foiled Cal's plan to double the post players and ran off to a 14-2 lead with 14:41 to go in the first half. The Bears fought back to 16-10 when Stanford found that someone had placed a lid on their basket, missing 9 of 10 shots in that span.
"It's Stanford, so of course, there was a ton of emotion," said Walker, explaining the Bears' slow start. "And a big crowd - we hadn't had one yet. We're still young, so you know we were a little shocked playing against the top 10 team in the nation. And so once we settled down, we started to pick it back up and get into our own rhythm."
But the rally did not last for long. Candice Wiggins calmly hit three pointer. Appel then gave Stanford a huge lift off the bench, scoring 7 of Stanford's 9 final points of the half while the Bears continued to miss shots from both the inside and outside against the tough Cardinal defense. The Bears shot only 22.2% (6 for 27) for the half and went into the lockers down 31-18.
"The ball didn't fall for us early, and then you get out of sorts," said Boyle. "And then we had kids taking shots outside their comfort zone, we had people taking too many shots, and we felt rushed. Like, 'I've got to get the ball in the basket,' instead of slowing down and working through stuff and getting things on the back end."
With the Bears' recent trend of poor second-half play, the mood in Haas was not hopeful at the start of the second half.
"If you look at the last four, five games, we have not been a second-half team," said Boyle. "Whether it means us making a run or stopping another team from making a run, something has to change with that mentality."
Indeed, the game quickly spiraled out of control. After a Greif trey at the 17:47 mark brought the score to 34-21, Stanford outscored the Bears 15-2 over the next four and a half minutes to put the game out of reach. Two three-pointers from Wiggins (who would finish with 6 of 9 from beyond the arc) and a dominant Appel down low continued to be the formula for the Cardinal. Stanford also managed to out rebound the Bears and got out in transition for easy baskets.
"Our defense really stepped up for us," said Stanford head coach Tara VanDeveer. "We started really looking to help and try to limit as much as we could the damage by Devanei [Hampton] and Ashley - they are both great players. After that, I thought we rebounded well and got out and tried to get to transition a little bit and then finished up."
Stanford built a 26-point lead at the 13-minute mark and coasted from there. Cal was never able to get the lead under 22 for the rest of the game.
"Ultimately, we have to take responsibility on both ends of the floor," said Boyle. "I thought we did a really poor job defensively and in transition and they got easy easy looks. At the same time they came down and they give our guards wide-open looks, but we weren't hitting. Ultimately there are games that we will knock down shots and there are games and we don't knock down shots. And in games where we don't knock down shots, then we have to get stops at the end of the floor, and we didn't do either."
Boyle knows that her team has a lot of work to do. "We have to regroup here as a team and figure out where are going. I don't think we have a purpose right now, and that's kind of where we're struggling."
The Bears will now travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Washington schools. Cal will face Washington State on Thursday, January 11, at 7 p.m. and Washington on Saturday, January 13, at 1:30 p.m.
NOTES and QUOTES:
- The crowd of 5,027 at Haas was the largest in Cal women's basketball history.
- Devanei Hampton had a rough night, with only 5 points and 4 boards to
go along with 4 personal fouls.
- Walker was the lone highlight for the Bears in the first half and wowed
the crowd with some aggressive moves to the basket. She collected her sixth
double double of the season and the 14th of her career.
- 9 of Candice Wiggins's 10 shot attempts were treys. "She's a great player," said
Walker. "We left her open two or three times in the first half. And
she's the type of player that once she hits one, she starts jumping and screaming
and you know she's going to hit another one."
- Rama N'diaye gave Cal fans another glimpse of her potential. While overpowered
by Appel down low, N'diaye showcased her ability to create her own shot and
get to the basket. She had 10 free throw attempts in only 24 minutes of play;
however, she only coverted 5 of them.
- The Bears had only 13 turnovers, just one more than Stanford. The Cardinal, however, and an incredible 24 assists on 29 made baskets.
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