Another implication of OSU's takedown of U-Dub is that, with a win tonight, I think we knock Cal out of the tournament. The committee isn't supposed to look at how many teams it takes from each conference, but c'mon, we live in the real world. As Pac-12 regular season champions, I'd think Washington would get in before Cal. Plus, if we take out Cal, some other team is getting the auto-berth. So will the committee, which we can safely assume has an East Coast-bias like any other deliberative college sports body in existence, take three from a down Pac-12? I don't know, but it'd be great to find out. Here goes…
The opening tip is slapped out to a cherry-picking Cobb, who has a breakaway dunk. Andrew Zimmermann hits a three after a high bounce off the rim, Cal responds from inside and then Chasson Randle fades away with success with a man in his face from 22 feet. He couldn't have a night like yesterday again, right? Randle draws a foul on Jorge Gutierrez the next possession, but Zimmermann airballs a corner three. He misses on Stanford's next two possessions to boot, as David Kravish banks it in to tie the game at six. Jarrett Mann goes back to Zim, who lights it up with a baseline J. Next possession, Zimmermann travels. He giveth and he taketh away, but his usage rate is through the roof. Anyway, it's close on the scoreboard, but it feels like we're being the aggressor tonight. A promising first four minutes.
16-minute mark: Stanford 8, California 6
Harper Kamp makes from two feet out. Cal's getting its buckets from point-blank range, while we're missing from close. Our inside D was superlative last night, where'd that go? And again it's Cal inside, off a Gutierrez in-bounds. Josh Owens hits an eight-foot J. We've brought in Josh Huestis for his post D and it works, as Cal is forced into a medium-length fadeaway. We've also brought in Jack Trotter (did you know: he's a younger brother of two Stanford alums) who draws a foul and hits his freebies. Trotter airballs the next possession, but then Stanford forces Cal's fourth turnover. Hello, Aaron Bright, with a pretty baseline floater. Our defense has really clamped down and we're continuing to take it to these guys, but then Gutierrez hits a three. We miss, Randle has his second strip of a Cal post, and on the semi-break Jack Trotter lays it in. Now Huestis intercepts a pass, but Bright throws up a 23-footer three seconds into the clock without his feet set. Then, it's another Stanford steal, and Bright is fouled on the resulting break. Holy defense.
12-minute mark: Stanford 16, California 13
Bright is true twice from the line, but Justin Cobbs puts in from three feet in. Powell throws up a prayer/semi-turnover from five feet away. Next time it's "Grizzly Zim" with an and-one. The sequence gives Stanford a six-point lead, the biggest lead of the night, and forces Kravish to check out with two fouls. Gutierrez throws it away for the third time on the night. If our offense were half as dominant as our D has been tonight, we would have won this league walking away.
Eight-minute mark: Stanford 21, Cal 15
Cal has eight turnovers, poor Monty. Make that nine on an offensive foul from Crabbe. Neither Owens nor Mann can connect from within three feet. We should be at 30. Instead it's 21-18 as Crabbe hits a contested three. Now, Zimmermann draws No. 2 on Crabbe. Our Geico caveman is drawing fouls left and right. Anthony Brown picks off an inbounds for turnover No. 10, but travels as he tries to go coast-to-coast. Randle goes to the floor and slaps it off a Cal guy for turnover 11. The Bears are self-imploding, and if we don't take more advantage, we may come to regret it later. Brown hits a long two on a catch-and-shoot, but then Kamp muscles in a deuce inside. 24-19 us. Brown draws a charge, turnover 12. Loving it. Owens with a moving pick after a Trotter o-board. Cal with a dunk inside, but Randle responds with a six-foot floater.
Four-minute mark: Stanford 26, Cal 21
Owens makes two free throws. Crabbe gets an unlucky bounce on a J, but Cobbs hits a floater in the lane the next time. We are continuing to play sick D, particularly by swarming quickly to the ball, with Cobbs' make contested with the shot clock running out. Owens commits a charge for foul No. 2. Cal misses two from the line; we're 8-of-9 there while Cal's 0-of-4. We draw a jump ball and retain possession on the arrow with 32 seconds left. Bright makes the defense count, hitting a floater off a friendly bounce as the half expires. Johnny Dawkins: We've gotten back well in transition, but need to pull the trigger quicker when we have a shot. Mike Montgomery: We're nervous and need to calm down.
Halftime: Stanford 30, Cal 23
Gutierrez comes off a screen for the half's first points, uh oh. Randle misses the same shot, and then Gutierrez gets Brown in the air and makes two from the line. Uh oh. Owens hits an inside jump hook to stop the momentum, but picks up his third foul on Cal's next possession. Trotter replaces him. Mann draws Gutierrez' second foul – we're doing a solid job of feeding our posts – and splits from the line. Now Trotter picks up his second foul. Cal's going to be in the one-and-one soon if we're not careful. Kravish converts on a high-low and now the lead is just two. Randle misses from wayyyy deep, and Cal runs it in transition as Gutierrez hits a layup. There goes the halftime lead. Cal runs again off our miss and all Zim can do is commit foul No. 3. Dawkins need to adjust to Cal's new break threat. Two Cal free throws for their first lead since 10-8. Fouls are 5-1 on the half. Bet that evens out though, as refs always seem to keep a mental count of these things and put their fingers on the scales lest it get too lopsided. Someone should conduct a study on that. Kamp three, again in transition, completes a 15-3 run this stanza. Ugh, where is the adjustment to Cal speeding up its O?
16-minute mark: Cal 38, Stanford 33
Randle says screw it and weaves his way through the Cal D to give himself two points. Cal hits another jumper, but Zimmermann rallies with a three. Foul No. 6 on a loose-ball scramble. Gutierrez hits a three off a screen. He has nine in the second half already. If the mark of good coaching is halftime adjustments… Now Brown cross-checks his guy and Cal's in the one-and-one with 13:47 to go. Luckily, they miss the front end. We'll take it. Cal is up 26-18 on the boards. Randle misses a long three. It's great shot selection when they're going in, though. Owens replaces Trotter. Zimmermann dives to the floor for a steal, draws a questionable No. 3 on Kravish on the other end (see, they always even out) and hits both freebies. Crabbe makes from inside; he has nine. Powell misses deep, where he's 1-of-17 on the season. Quiet day for him. Owens draws a foul on an o-board attempt. See? Bright hits a corner three to pull us within two, but Gutierrez responds in kind. Powell makes a gorgeous give-and-go left-handed underhand scoop.
12-minute mark: Cal 48, Stanford 45
Cal makes two free throws. Randle hits two free throws. Stanford forces a turnover, one of Cal's first of the half. Okay, here we go. Sure enough, Powell is open for a four-foot finger roll. But then we lose Kravish two feet from the hoop – oops. Powell draws Gutierrez's third and splits the pair. If we could get No. 4 on the conference player of the year, that'd be swell. Cobbs gets a nice bounce to put him at 10 points. Then it's Brown with a J. Then it's Kamp with a lay-in. Then Randle gets his man in the air and draws No. 3 on Cobbs. He's now 4-of-4 from the line, and second-half fouls have leveled off to 8-6 now, what do you know? Gutierrez finally misses a three, and Crabbe draws his third on an over the back. One… and one more… and Randle's 6-of-6 and we're tied. Kid's good – hope he has the confidence, and Dawkins tells him to, take half the shots the rest of the way.
Eight-minute mark: Stanford 56, Cal 56
Gutierrez splits a pair off a Powell foul and is now an uncharacteristic 3-of-7 from the line. Kamp is 6-of-6 from the field after leaning in from three feet out. Zimmermann replaces Powell, throws down his man and banks it in with his off hand. Gutierrez draws No. 4 on Owens, as Powell and Mann check in. Gutierrez can, again, only split the pair. We're 18-of-21 from the line, meanwhile. AND ZIMMERMANN OUT OF NOWHERE FOR AN O-BOARD AND TIP IN. He has 18 and we're knotted at 60. M-V-P. Zimmermann misses a baseline J, Powell is called for over the back and Kravish hits two. Zimmermann makes on a fade-away from eight feet. Physioc: "He's not chicken!" Crabbe hits a tough floater, then Gutierrez outhustles Powell for a loose ball and goes coast-to-coast.
Four-minute mark: Cal 66, Stanford 62
Cobbs makes a pair from the line and it's a six-point Baer lead with 3:50 to go. Mann bobbles a would-be wide open three out of bounds. Uh oh… Give it to Randle and Zimmermann please. Instead Bright throws it up too quickly in transition and fails to draw rim. Cobbs hits two free throws, eight-point game with 2:58 to play. Okay, Randle and Zim please. Randle lips out, but Zim is there for the clean-up, hmm. But then Gutierrez converts an and-one… he's much too quick for Owens. Nine points, 2:24 to go. Zim misses a three, decent look though. He redeems himself on the other end, drawing a charge on Kamp. Randle with a three from way downtown, as he now has 16. Keep feeding it to these guys, please. 73-67 with 1:40 to go. Crabbe shoots early and misses. Randle immediately goes coast-to-coast off the high glass. I've become three times more excited for next year in the last two games. Kamp misses an open J from three feet, but Brown is whistled for an off-ball foul. Kravish hits both free throws, six-point lead with 40 seconds to go. We can't convert on the other end and have to foul. It's a mere formality at this point.
Final: Cal 77, Stanford 71
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