The rain tumbled down hard and cold outside Maples Pavilion but inside Stanford fought its way to some daylight at the expense of its rival from across the Bay. After a lethargic start that saw the Cardinal down 19-7 early, Stanford outhustled and outmuscled Cal on its way to 73-68 win over the Bears Friday night.
Cal went to work early against Stanford’s man defense, exploiting the Cardinal on big man dives down the heart of the lane and especially with crisp passing triggered from Stanford’s post double teams. Those passes led to wide open threes which Cal converted with regularity early. Jabari Bird, who finished with 23 points boosted by 7-12 three-point shooting, made all three of his attempts from behind the arc in the first half.
Stanford adjusted tactically by going to its 3-2 zone, which has become an increasingly key component to the Cardinal’s defensive profile, and Cal had very little answers. The Bears started turning the ball over and the Cardinal took advantage. Stanford ended up +11 in points off turnovers, and when you combine that with a bounceback performance at the line (29-40), you have the exact opposite result from the frustrating loss to Arizona State.
Reid Travis continues to shoulder the load for the Cardinal, bumping and grinding his way through Cal’s tall trio of Ivan Rabb, Kinsley Okoroh, and Kameron Rooks. Once again, Travis was able to play extremely physically yet under control, and he finished with 19 points and nine rebounds that included a redemptive 9-14 from the foul line.
Dorian Pickens similarly found his aggression on his way to 23 points. Pickens shot 5-9 and 10-11 from the free throw line and provided Stanford with the wing scoring they needed. Marcus Allen chipped in 11 points, most of which off his patented blurs to the hoop.
Stanford took charge in the second half with a 20-5 run that featured over five minutes of scoreless basketball from Cal. Some late three-pointers carved into the final margin, but Stanford was never seriously threatened in the game’s closing moments.
Stanford came up dry in the desert, but Coach Haase was quick to point out that there were positives from the way the Cardinal played that carried over into the victory tonight. Stanford now has four games left in the regular season before heading to Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament. It would be foolish to extrapolate too much from one win in a season that has been the literal embodiment of up and down, but for one night at least, the Cardinal pushed and scratched and clawed its way to some sunshine at the expense of its Axe-less rivals.