To his credit, Anderson was the leading rebounder with 11, 5 on them on the offensive glass. Still, after the game Anderson said,"I didn't play like my normal self."
He gave Stanford's defense major props:"Their game plan was for Robin Lopez to stick on me the entire time, and it's definitely tough to get a shot up when a 7 footer is chasing you around the entire court." When he did have opportunities, both he and Coach Ben Braun admitted that he was rushing his shots.
The Bears dug a deep hole in the first half. After Cal scored the game's first 3 points, Stanford went on an 11-0 run. The home team eventually built a 16-point lead at 28-12 with 7:54 left in the half, but Cal then responded with a 13-0 run to get back into the game. Harper Kamp and Patrick Christopher were major contributors with a nice assist from Jordan Wilkes. The opening 20 minutes ended with the Cardinal holding a 33-29 lead.
Cal had 9 offensive boards in the first half, and held a 18-14 advantage in rebounding. The Bears had 11 second chance points to just 6 for Stanford, and Cal had outscored Stanford 14-8 in the paint. Stanford's lead had been achieved by hitting 4 of 6 from beyond the arc - while Cal hit just 1 for 6 on their treys. Anderson was scoreless in the first half as he struggled to find openings against Robin Lopez' defense.
Cal opened the second half with a feed to Anderson in the post for his first bucket of the game, a bucket that cut Stanford's lead to 2 points. It was the first of 10 second half occasions when the Bears would get within 1 or 2 points, but they never managed to take the lead. Cal either couldn't get a key stop, or secure a key rebound, or make the big shot. As Braun said later, "We've got to be able to make solid decisions down the stretch."
|Ben Margot, AP Photo,
Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez
With eight minutes left, Patrick Christopher hit a jumper to make it 57-55 Stanford, closing the gap to just two points. Lawrence Hill missed a shot, Jordan Wilkes pulled down a rebound, and the Bears got out in transition - but Anderson missed a wide-open three that could have put the Bears ahead. To make matters worse, at that critical moment, DeVon Hardin committed his 4th foul going for the rebound and had to sit.
With 5:23 left, Anderson hit his only 3-pointer of the game to bring the Bears within 2, at 62-60. Cal called time, but on the ensuing defensive possession, Stanford's dribble penetration led to a dunk by Taj Finger and a 4-point lead.
But Cal still wasn't done. Anderson hit 2 free throws and Stanford missed their next 2 field-goal attempts. Then Anderson got another good look at a three-point, but missed again.
Jamal Boykin fouled on the rebound; Hill made both free throws. The Bears never got closer than 4 the rest of the way. Solid free throw shooting by the Cardinal built the final 10-point margin -they hit a rare (for them) 21 for 25 from the line in the 2nd half.
It was a strange game. Cal out-rebounded Stanford 39-33 (a key team objective against a strong rebounding opponent) and had 16 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points. Even with Stanford's size, points in the paint finished even at 30. The Cardinal hit 47% from the floor as against Cal's 40%. But once again, Cal was not able to force turnovers. Stanford gave up just 7 this Sunday, well below their season-average 13.
It never really seemed like Cal was going to win this game. Good teams dictate with their defense, and the Bears were not good enough Sunday evening at that end of the floor.
|Ben Margot, AP Photo
Jamal Boykin, Brook Lopez
After the game, Stanford coach Trent Johnson complimented Cal's effort, particularly noting their rebounding. He talked about Cal's offense, but didn't mention their defense. To illustrate: Anthony Goods has struggled this season. On this night he tanked 20 points, the first time he has done that since the Cardinal game against UC Santa Barbara last year in November.
Patrick Christopher did his best to keep Cal in the game. He finished with 15 points, but he needed 20 shots to get there. On several occasions he was unable to finish a play with either a score or a foul. As Braun said,"We got to the rim a number of times today, but we came away without getting the foul. That's on us."
Although Braun and the players made it clear that they are not planning to give up, the future for this team is now quite uncertain. The remaining schedule is difficult, starting with Thursday's home game against Washington State. The Cougars will be looking to avenge their loss in Pullman in January.
The performances from the bench players Sunday night, including Kamp, Boykin and Wilkes, may be the most encouraging news to emerge from the disappointing loss.
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