Stanford took on Bay area rival Cal for the second time in a week, but in the second game of the double header, Cal couldn't have looked more different. On Wednesday, the Bears' bus rolled into Maples less than an hour and a half before the tip off. Saturday at Haas, the Bears were out on the court early, shooting and passing their way through warm-ups with a glint in their eyes. Cal fans almost had the payback the craved from Wednesday's 72-48 loss, but Stanford once again dipped into their deep well of last minute magic to prevail 53-50.
The athletic department at Cal had labeled the day "Super Saturday". Seven Cal sports evens on the same day. The atmosphere behind the scenes at Haas was frenetic. Softball had finished the first half of a double header. Tennis and Swimming were done. Baseball and Rugby were in progress. Women's basketball could have slipped under the radar, but Caren Horstmeyer wasn't about to let that happen. The Bears harnessed the energy of the 2696 Bay area fans and put on their best performance against Stanford in three years. Cal brought their A++ game.
The Cardinal stuck with the Bears in the first half. Both teams clawed their way trough nine lead changes and three ties. Using a page out of the Cardinal playbook, Cal ran the ball, keeping the pace fast and the shots frequent. Nihan Anaz, determined to improve upon a 2 point performance Wednesday night, made 4 of 23 shots.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the Cardinal found some second half fireworks from Nicole Powell.
Powell scored the majority of her game leading 19 points as Stanford mounted a comeback from an 8 point deficit with 6:30 left in the game. Powell dished assists, drove the lane, and pulled up for the outside shot. Her teammates stepped up their efforts alongside her. The core rotation of 7 players bucked down and controlled the endgame.
With 15 seconds left, Center Timea Ivanyi made a crucial rebound after Chelsea Trotter missed on the first half of a one and one. Cal had a chance to tie with a three. Talented freshman Sarah Pool received the ball, but in the face of Cardinal pressure her shot clanked off of the front iron. It went through several hands, but appropriately, the buzzer rang with Nicole Powell holding the ball. With a hairsbreadth 3 point edge, Stanford had secured the top spot in the Pac-10 for one more half week.