Coming off of an 85-50 rout of the CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunners at Maples Pavilion Tuesday night, the Stanford Cardinal were looking to gain some confidence from the blowout win and use it against the California Golden Bears as they opened up a three-game road trip in conference play. After running out to a 47-25 lead after 16 minutes of play, the Cardinal blew the lead over the next 22 minutes to succumb to the Golden Bears by a final score of 82-75 on Valentine's Day afternoon. Stanford is now 15-8 overall, but 4-8 in conference play, while Cal moves to 19-6 and 8-4 in league action.
At the onset, both teams were taking a lot of good, open shots, with Landry Fields and Anthony Goods both nailing shots from long distance, while the Bears found seams inside the Stanford D to find a lot of open looks inside, leading to layups from Jamal Boykin and a long jumper from Patrick Christopher. After the first media timeout Stanford was up 12-11, but they weren't done as they ran off eight more in a row after a Fields three, causing Cal coach Mike Montgomery to call a 3-second time out with the Cardinal up nine, 20-11. Cal would score then next five points, but Stanford would be up 22-16 with 11:56 to go at the second media break.
The hot shooting that Stanford displayed versus the Roadrunners continued during the middle portion of Saturday's game as the Cardinal continued to rain down three-pointers and long jumpers on the Bears, extending the lead to as much as 21 after back-to-back threes from Goods, one from the right wing and one from straightaway to double up Cal, 42-21. After pushing the lead to 22, 47-25, after a Lawrence Hill layup with 4:33 remaining in the half, Stanford's offense began to break down late in the half, fumbling away a couple of opportunities, making a few bad passes, and shooting too early in the shot clock with the wrong folks, leading Cal to close the lead to 16, 47-31, with 1:22 left. A Jeremy Green three off an inbounds play under the basket would be the last points for Stanford as Cal scored five in a row, including a Christopher right wing three to go into the half with some momentum of their own, closing the gap to 14, 50-36.
Stanford was led at the half by Green's 11 on 3-3 shooting from beyond the arc. Goods and Fields both had 10, while Mitch Johnson had zero points, but did have a team high five assists. California was led by Boykin's nine (in only 11 minutes due to foul trouble), along with seven from Christopher and six by Jerome Randle.
The Cardinal shot 68% from the field, 63% inside the three-point line, 75% from beyond the arc (9-12), and was 3-4 from the charity stripe. Cal shot 47% from the field, 41% inside the arc, 67% from long distance (2-3), and was 6-8 from the free throw line. The Bears outrebounded Stanford 14-13, including 5-0 on the offensive glass, leading to a 7-0 advantage in second chance points. Stanford dished out 13 assists and turned the ball over just five times, including three late in the half. Cal tallied eight assists and seven turnovers. The Cardinal were outscored in the paint 20-10, but had a 12-4 edge in the points off turnovers department.
Could Stanford reverse the momentum Cal seemingly had in their favor to end the first half or could the Cardinal continue to shoot lights out from the field? In the first 1:54, both teams had their answer as a couple of long shots turned into easy buckets for Cal, including a Christopher dunk over Fields on a fast break which brought the nearly-full Haas Pavilion to their feet, screaming to the top of their lungs as they cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the middle of the first half, 50-42. The Bears continued their assault on the Cardinal lead, cutting it to five before a driving layup by Hill over a shorter Harper Kamp bumped the lead back to seven, 53-46, just before the first media timeout. Cal completed a remarkable 28-5 run on a Kamp reverse layin to get within one, 53-52, before a Hill put-back dunk got Stanford back up a full possession with just under 14 minutes remaining in the game.
Over the next seven minutes, both teams would continue to battle back and forth, but the Cardinal would continue to hold the lead. A Will Paul three-pointer made it 64-58 for Stanford with 8:48 to go. A long Christopher three-pointer from the left wing, though, got the Bears within three, 66-63, just before the media timeout. Stanford would extend the lead to six again after two free throws by Goods as the Bears, but a floater by Randle would bring the lead back to four, 71-67, as Montgomery called a time out with 4:14 to go. After a miss by Stanford, Randle hit a long three-pointer in Johnson's face to cut the lead to one. Then, a turnover by Goods led to a driving layup by Randle which went high off the glass and in to give the Bears their first lead of the second half, 72-71. A shot by Hill from the right baseline would bounce high off the rim and Randle would find Christopher near the right corner for a three-pointer that would send the crowd into further pandemonium as Cal was now up four, 75-71, with 2:30 to go in the contest.
After Fields hit two big free throws to halve the lead, Jorge Gutierrez, one of Cal's two freshmen, made a big shot for Cal over a late arriving Goods to push the margin back to four. Hill would attempt a three-pointer from the left corner, but it would rim out, effectively ending Stanford's chances. Down four after two Fields free throws with 33 seconds left, Hill nearly stole a long inbounds pass from Randle, but Kamp ultimately came down with it and made two free throws. A Goods miss was the final nail in the coffin and the rise and ultimate fall of the Cardinal was complete.
For the game, Fields ended the contest with 16 points on just six shots to lead Stanford. Hill had 15, Goods finished with 13, and Paul and Green both tallied 11. For Cal, Christopher had 21, Randle scored 18, Boykin and Kamp finished with 11, and Gutierrez ended the game with 10.
For the game, Stanford shot 52% from the field, 52% from inside the arc, 53% from beyond the three-point line, but just 1-7 in the second half. The Cardinal would finish 11-15 from the free throw line. Cal shot 48% from the field, 47% from inside the three-point line, 56% from outside, and 79% from the charity stripe. Stanford was outrebounded 37-25, had 18 assists to Cal's 16, and had 14 turnovers to Cal's 10, but three of those for the Bears after the half, compared to nine for the Cardinal.
There's not much to say after what is the worst loss of the season for the Cardinal. Up 22 on your rival's home court, making every shot under the dark roof of Haas Pavilion, looking like they would finish it off the first half, and then just seeing the lead get chipped away for nearly 22 minutes before the Bears finally got over the hump and not have an answer was probably the ultimate death blow to the 2008-09 season in regards to getting to the NCAA Tournament. In fact, Stanford will have to play over .500 basketball the rest of the way to potentially get themselves a chance to play in the NIT as a consolation to a season which started off so promisingly at 10-0 before heading into the Pac-10 schedule.
The Cardinal, led by head coach, Johnny Dawkins, must find a way to get his
team refocused on the remaining games in the season, but it is going to be very
difficult trying to do so with four of the remaining six games on the road and
the LA schools coming into Maples. The Cardinal will have a chance to lick
their wounds and hopefully get healed before heading to Corvallis to take on the
Oregon State Beavers at 7:00pm on Thursday.
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