Entering the final regular season game of the year, the Stanford Cardinal were looking to not only get the bad taste out of their mouth from a stunning loss last weekend versus Arizona, and stay out of the "play-in" game of the Pac-10 Tournament, but to also to gain a measure of revenge versus the California Golden Bears, a team which bludgeoned them in early January by 26 points in Berkeley. Coming out on an emotional senior day, Stanford followed their usual game plan, falling behind early, made a run to tie up the game in the second half, but couldn't quite finish the game as the Bears' depth and experience was too much as California defeated the Cardinal 71-61 on Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion. Stanford falls to 13-17, 7-11 in Pac-10 play, while Cal moves to 21-9, 13-5 in league action.
Stanford got off to a good start, getting a left corner three-pointer from Jeremy Green and a long jumper from Landry Fields to go up 5-0, but Cal ran off the next eight points, capped off by an "And-1" opportunity by Jamal Boykin to lead the Bears to an 8-5 edge with 15:24 remaining in the first half. Boykin would top the play with a free throw after the media break, but a Drew Shiller jump shot in the paint stopped the Bears momentarily. The Golden Bears, though, continued to play tough defense, forcing several tough shots and a couple of turnovers from the Cardinal, grabbing a 15-10 lead going into the second media timeout of the first half with a pair of free throws to go from Patrick Christopher to go.
After Christopher drilled both freebies, Shiller hit a tough three-pointer from the left wing, but the Bears found Theo Robertson inside for an easy deuce to silence the bipartisan crowd. Cal got the lead up to 10, 23-13, before some fortunate passing found Emmanuel Igbinosa open for a right wing trifecta that was pure as gold for the senior from Houston. Unfortunately, a rebound after a miss was fought over by Andrew Zimmerman and Green, going out of bounds and to the visitors, where Jorge Gutierrez canned a three-pointer from the left corner to spring the lead back to 10 before the TV break.
A switch to the zone by Stanford threw Cal off kilter for a couple of possessions, but the Cardinal were unable to cut into the lead. Once Randle threw in a three-pointer from well behind the three-point arc, head coach Johnny Dawkins put a kibosh on the defensive strategy. Stanford was able to go in a brief 6-2 run, with four points coming from Fields and two from Da'Veed Dildy off a defensive assignment breakdown by the Bears, giving the home team and crowd some hope as both teams strode off the court for a mandated break with 1:59 left and Cal leading by eight, 34-26. Fields continued his hot streak by making two free throws and then running down an offensive rebound and hitting a baseline jumper that hit every part of the rim before dropping in the hoop. Gutierrez then stepped on the sideline in front of the Stanford bench, giving the Cardinal a chance to cut the lead further, but Green's shot came up way short as it was deflected into the masses under the hoops. Cal, though, wasn't able to make a shot to close the half, giving the good guys hope going into the half, down just four, 34-30.
For the half, Stanford shot 44% from the floor, 33% (3-9) at the three-point line, and a paltry 38% (3-8) at the charity stripe. California made 42% of their field goals, including 29% (2-7) from beyond the arc, and 6-7 (86%) from the free throw line. Cal outrebounded Stanford 21-15, including 7-3 on the offensive end, leading to a 9-6 edge in second chance points. The Golden Bears dished out nine assists and turned the ball over five times, while the Cardinal tallied four assists and just three turnovers.
Fields led the way for Stanford, getting 15 points and seven rebounds on 6-10 shooting in 18 minutes of play. He was followed by three points each from Green (1-7 from the floor) and Igbinosa. Boykin was the leader going into the locker room for Cal, scoring 11 points on 4-6 shooting, followed by Christopher and Robertson, scoring six apiece for the visitors from across the Bay.
The second half started with two Stanford turnovers with a chance to cut the lead in half, but a Green three-pointer after a Boykin layup brought Stanford within three, 36-33, less than two minutes into the second stanza. A Christopher three-pointer pushed the lead up to 41-35 before a Fields jump shot in the lane and a long three-ball from Green had the crowd going bananas as the Cardinal had come back to get within one with a lot of time left in the game. Another Christopher three silenced the noisy folks, but a Randle turnover after a Fields miss before the media break gave Stanford hope that their run was all for not.
Stanford did not disappoint Fields made a tough move inside for two more and freshman Gabriel Harris sent over a nifty pass to Jack Trotter who slammed it home for the loud deuce and a 44-44 tie with 14:08 left in the game. However, Robertson came back and made a tricky move to the basket, getting the hoop and harm from Fields to give Cal back the lead. Trotter came right back for a tough two inside and the foul from Boykin, but missed the free throw long to keep the deficit at one. California seemed to respond to the miss, as Markhuri Sanders-Freison hit a layup shortly after Fields drew his third foul, then got another offensive rebound and tip-in to help the lead grow to 51-46 with 10:52 to go in the ball game.
A turnover by Stanford after a miss by Cal led to two free throws by Randle as Cal had now quietly grown the lead to seven, leaving fans of the Cardinal a little nervous and deflated as the team's chance to finish off the comeback started to slip away. Igbinosa quelled those nerves a bit with two free throws, but both teams treaded water for the next few minutes, leaving Stanford's chances slimmer and slimmer as both squads went to their respective benches after Gutierrez came up limping after stepping on Trotter's foot after a loose ball, forcing the media break with 7:39 left and the Golden Bears up 57-50. Green nailed a shot from the just beyond the left elbow to make it a five-point game, but Christopher came back to nail back-to-back long two-pointers, the second off a transition opportunity, forcing Dawkins to call a timeout with Cal up 61-52 with 5:42 left in the game.
Green hit another open two-pointer after the timeout to give the near full house some hope, then Shiller drained a left wing three to get Stanford within four. A foul on Shiller called as he made contact with Sanders-Frison after his offensive rebound brought play to a halt as both teams headed to the sidelines to take their last TV timeout of regulation with 3:48 to go and Stanford trailing by four, 61-57. Sanders-Frison made one of the two free throws after the break, and Fields doubled that with a spin move and short jumper in the paint to cut the lead to one possession, 62-59. California, though, used its strength to secure two offensive rebounds after Randle misses to get an easy two inside by Boykin. Green turned the ball over, and was hurt momentarily after the miscue (Green said he had the "wind knocked out" of him), stopping play before the Golden Bears could get an easy bucket. Cal ran a play for Christopher who hit a huge, long three-pointer (a shot he over the Cardinal man-to-man defense, a change from their defense over most of the second half) from the right wing to put the Golden Bears up eight, 67-59, with 1:37 left in the game. The Cardinal attempted one last rally as Fields dunked one home after a steal at midcourt, but Christopher made two free throws and Dildy missed a layup to help seal the win for the outright Pac-10 champions, a thought their fans traveling to Maples made very clear as Randle finished off the Cardinal with two free throws on the other end.
For the contest, Stanford shot 44% from the field, 32% (6-19) from three-point land, and 54% (7-13) at the free throw line. Cal made 42% of their field goals, 36% (5-14) from beyond the arc, and nailed 16-19 (84%) at the charity stripe. The free throw percentages, along with a 41-30 advantage on the glass, including 14-7 on the offensive rebounds (a fact not lost on Dawkins as he called the deficit "huge" afterwards, leading to an 18-9 edge in second chance points, ultimately were the blows Stanford could not recover from in the end. Each team had eight turnovers, while Cal out-assisted the Cardinal by a 14-9 count.
The Cardinal were led by Fields' 25 points and 12 rebounds on 10-21 shooting for the afternoon. Green was next in line with 13 points on 5-15 shooting, while Shiller scored eight for the losing side. Cal was led by Christopher's 23 points and seven rebounds on 8-18 makes from the field. He was followed by Boykin's 13 points and Randle's 11, despite a 2-10 day from the floor. After the game, Fields was asked if he thought his statistical dominance solidified his candidacy for Pac-10 Player of the Year, the senior said it wasn't something he thought about, but if he had a vote, he would vote for Randle based on his team's play this season. When Randle was asked the same question, he said Fields and was effusive in his praise for his consistent play and the growth he's seen from his rival.
Stanford will next take on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday night at approximately 8:30pm as the Cardinal are the #7 seed in the Pac-10 tournament down at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Stay tuned to The Bootleg for Kevo's in-depth and informative look back at today's contest in his "And 1" column coming soon to a browser near you!
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