Coming into Saturday afternoon's matchup with the California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion, the Stanford Cardinal were looking to make a statement in their opening game of the Pac-10 season by upsetting the league favorites on their home floor. Unfortunately, the boys from Berkeley had other ideas, opening up a double-digit lead halfway into the first half, cruising to a 92-66 victory. California moves to 9-4 on the season, 1-0 in conference play, while Stanford falls to 6-7, 0-1 in the Pac-10.
Both teams came out of the game making buckets, but the Cardinal success ended soon after, culminating in a missed dunk opportunity by Landry Fields on Max Zhang, who partially blocked the try by the senior. Cal converted the miss into a Jerome Randle three-pointer which extended the lead to 13-6 before the first media timeout of the contest. Randle made his next two buckets, one from long distance, to double up the Cardinal at 18-9 with 12:25 left in the first half, even outscoring the gentlemen from the Farm all by his lonesome as he had 12 of the Bears points at that point of the contest.
Stanford switched to a zone midway through the first half, but even that defense was beaten by the Bears, as Nikola Knezevic banked home a three-pointer from just left of the top of the key as the shot clock was winding down. The Cardinal's opportunities were available on the offensive end, but they couldn't find a way to make open looks to chip away at the Cal advantage. One sequence with just under eight minutes to go in the half exemplified their offensive woes as Jorge Gutierrez went down with an injury, but the Cardinal could not convert a field goal on four shot opportunities despite the sophomore being down and unable to continue during the sequence.
After the injury, Stanford would get it to within 10, 28-18, however a quick 8-0 spurt over the next 2:13 by California brought the lead up to 18, causing Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins to call a time out to try to get his troops back on track before the half. The defensive intensity from the visitors did improve, causing several Bears turnovers, but the Cardinal offensive woes continued as point blank misses were found left and right, hampering Stanford's chances to cut into the lead for the rest of the opening stanza. A leaner on the baseline by Omondi Amoke as the clock wound down ended the half with the Bears up 20, 45-25, at the break.
For the half, Stanford shot a miserable 28% from the field, including just 1-9 (11%) from the three-point line. One of the Cardinal's lone bright spots was at the free throw line where they were 6-8 (75%). California was scorching from the field, making 63% of their shots, including 57% from beyond the arc. The Golden Bears were 3-6 (50%) from the charity stripe. Both teams had 18 rebounds, with Stanford having an edge on the offensive glass, grabbing nine for the half. Each team turned the ball over six times, while Cal out-assisted Stanford by a nine to five count.
Jeremy Green led Stanford with eight points, followed by Fields with seven on 3-14 shooting (although, he did have a team-high eight rebounds) from the field, and four off the bench from Jack Trotter. California was led by Randle's 12 on 4-6 shooting (3-4 from deep) and five assists. Patrick Christopher was next in line for the Bears with seven, while Jamal Boykin and Theo Robertson tallied six each.
The second half started off encouragingly for Stanford as Green hit his first three shots of the half, including two three-pointers, to shave the lead down to 14, 47-33, with 18 minutes remaining in the contest. Another beautifully drawn up inbounds pass to Fields for a dunk cut the lead down to 13, but the Golden Bears stemmed the tide as Markhuri Sanders-Frison hit a hook inside the paint with 16:27 to go in the game.
That basket, though, and a turnover by Jarrett Mann driving to the lane seemed to stop the Cardinal's momentum as back-to-back buckets by Cal after the timeout brought the lead back to 19. Da'Veed Dildy got into the act as well, making two layups in a row, but a three-point play by the rising force known as Zhang, kept the lead in the 17-20 range for most of the next four minutes of play, further hurting Stanford's chances of matching the comeback win Cal put on the Cardinal last year in Berkeley.
Another Zhang three-point play at the 10:53 mark propelled the Bears lead back to 19, 65-46, and Stanford turned the ball over with a moving screen, further hindering the Cardinal's effort to get closer in this matchup of rivals. Both teams struggled from the field over the next three minutes, keeping the lead in the 19-21 range as the squads reached the second-to-last media timeout of the game with 7:34 left in the game and Cal leading by 21, 71-50. Back to-back baskets by Drew Shiller and Fields, the latter off a steal, brought the advantage down to 16 with 5:32 left, but a putback by D.J. Seeley and free throws from Brandon Smith pushed that lead back to 20 in 30 seconds of time, putting what appeared to be a final nail in the coffin for Stanford's chances to win the game. The Cardinal would get no closer than 16 down the stretch, sending the Cardinal back across the bay with their first loss in Pac-10 play.
For the game, Stanford managed to shoot 41% from the field after their tough start, but hit just 3-19 (16%) from the three-point line. The free throw line wasn't as kind in second half as the Cardinal finished the game making just 57% of their tries. California was hot from the field for the entire 40 minutes, swishing in 60% of their shots, including 50% from beyond the arc. The Golden Bears were 20-28 (71%) from the charity stripe. California beat the Cardinal on the boards as well, holding a 35-31 advantage, although the Cardinal did manage to corral 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second chance points. Both squads were nearly even in terms of turnovers and assists as Cal edged Stanford in dishing the ball for buckets, 16-15, while each team had 13 turnovers. California held a 42-28 advantage in points in the paint.
Green, despite wearing a heavy wrap on his right hand, led Stanford with 23 points on 7-14 shooting, followed by Fields with 20 points and 10 rebounds on just 9-24 shooting. No other player for the Cardinal had more than five for the contest. California was led by Randle's 24 on 8-11 shooting (3-4 from deep) and seven assists. Zhang, the 7-3 center from China, was next in line with a career high 13 points to go along with his three blocks and numerous other shots he affected with his size and wingspan. Amoke also tallied 12 for the victors.
Stanford will open up conference play at home this Wednesday evening versus
the re-energized USC Trojans at 7:00pm. Stay tuned to more coverage of
this afternoon's game on The Bootleg with "And 1" with standout columnist Kevin
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