Jan. 29, 2012
BERKELEY (AP) - Jorge Gutierrez took little satisfaction walking off California's home floor guaranteed of a perfect record at Haas Pavilion against rival Stanford.
"Personally," he said, "I don't think it's a rivalry."
In the last three-plus years, Gutierrez and the rest of Cal's senior class have sure made it seem that way.
Allen Crabbe scored 18 points and Gutierrez had 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to lead the Golden Bears past Stanford 69-59 on Sunday in front of the program's first home sellout in almost two years.
Harper Kamp added 15 points to propel the Bears (17-5, 7-2 Pac-12) to their fifth win in the last six meetings against the Cardinal. The announced crowd of 11,877 at rowdy Haas Pavilion cheered Cal to a perfect 14-0 start at home this season to keep pace with Washington atop the crowded Pac-12 Conference race.
"Whoever is on top is our rival," Gutierrez said. "We want to end up first."
Move over, Stanford.
At least for now.
Stefan Nastic scored 11 points off the bench in place of foul-prone Dwight Powell, who had 11 points and four rebounds before fouling out as Stanford lost at Berkeley for the fourth straight time.
Josh Owens added nine points and nine rebounds for the Cardinal (15-6, 5-4), losers of a season-high three straight. Stanford shot just 2 of 15 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 41-31.
"They just were able to get more second-chance opportunities. That hurt us down the stretch of the ballgame," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said.
The teams combined for 13 lead changes and five ties over a frantic 40 minutes, delighting a gold towel-waving crowd--sprinkled with Cardinal colors, of course--that pounced at every chance to roar to its feet.
Not until a late push did the Bears deliver ample opportunities to cheer.
Kamp's free throws extended Cal's lead to 48-43 late in the second half, igniting the crowd with his aggressive play. He also drew a fourth foul on starter Powell in the process that started an avalanche of Bears offense.
Gutierrez stole a pass from Powell soon after and sprinted for an uncontested layup, and Crabbe added a jumper and a put-back as part of a 12-3 run that put the Bears ahead 56-46 with a little more than 5 minutes remaining. Powell never got in rhythm and fouled out with 4:55 to play.
"The crowd was like what I remember it when I used to come over," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, who coached at Stanford from 1986-2004 before leaving for a brief stint with the NBA's Golden State Warriors. "I think there's something to that."
A rocking blue-and-gold crowd at Haas Pavilion had the home team energized from the start.
The Bears bullied and bruised Stanford on defense, holding the longer and lankier Cardinal scoreless for almost six minutes in the first half. Cal took advantage with a 10-2 spurt during that stretch, capped by Gutierrez's 3-pointer to take a 14-11 lead midway through the first half.
Cal defenders swarmed Stanford's shooters throughout, even adding some hard-hitting fouls and going elbow-to-elbow for rebounds. The Bears' blistering defense converted stops into transition scores, getting consecutive three-point plays on layups by Christian Behrens and Justin Cobbs--with Aaron Bright whistled for a foul each time--to go ahead 25-16.
Stanford stayed strong early with a boost off the bench.
With foul trouble sidelining starters Powell and Bright, Nastic had nine points in the opening half, including a baseline jumper at the buzzer by the freshman center that gave the Cardinal a 33-32 lead and sent teammates jumping off the bench in celebration.
"We had a bit of a letup toward the end," Nastic said. "Give them credit, they kept going."
The long-running Bay Area rivalry brought out some headliners from both sides.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, sat courtside below his No. 11 Cal jersey hanging from the rafters. San Francisco Giants chief executive and Cal grad Larry Baer also was in attendance and so was Jim Plunkett, Stanford's 1970 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, as well as current athletes and coaches from both universities.
The extra attention helped create the first sellout at Haas Pavilion since Feb. 27, 2010, when Cal defeated Arizona State 62-46 to clinch at least a share of the conference title.
"I don't think I've ever seen the gym that packed," Gutierrez said. "I've been here 3½ years, that's the first time I've ever seen the gym that packed."
Stanford hosts Cal in the regular-season finale March 4.