STANFORD, Calif. -- In the end, No. 21/19 California just plain ran out of time. With No. 4/4 Stanford leading 59-29 with 13:35 to go in the game, the Golden Bears mounted what would have been a comeback of historic proportions by coming back to within five points, but time ran out on California and Stanford escaped Maples Pavilion with a 70-64 victory.
The two teams meet again in just three days, and California assuredly will use the final 13 minutes of the game at Maples as a sign of what the team can do when they limit the little mistakes and play California basketball.
“We were still motivated,” California junior guard Brittany Boyd said about the fight the Golden Bears showed to erase a 30-point deficit in front of 4,228 fans in the first rivalry game of the season between the two teams. “One thing about this team is we have heart. We won’t give up. I’m proud of every single player in that locker room.”
Boyd finished with a game-high 25 points and added five rebounds, three assists and two steals, which moved her to No. 4 in the California all-time record book with 242 career thefts.
Afure Jemerigbe added a career-high 18 points and Gennifer Brandon had her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bay Area rivals matched each other with 44 team rebounds each and despite trailing by as many as 30 points, the Bears actually held the advantage in turnovers with only nine giveaways.
Part of the difference in the first half was foul trouble. Reshanda Gray sat for 13 minutes in the first half with two fouls, and on the other end stood a Stanford team that committed a total of one team foul in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The other difference were the little defensive mistakes that Boyd said cost her team a chance at knocking off Stanford at Maples Pavilion for the second consecutive time.
Taking advantage of the opportunities was Stanford All-American Chiney Ogwumike who finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Karlie Samuelson found herself open to hit 2-of-3 from three-point land and finish with 14 points, and Taylor Greenfield also hit two from beyond the arc to finish with 10 points.
The Bears harassed Ogwumike early in the game with a smothering defense that forced the Pac-12 field goal percentage leader to begin 1-for-4 from the field. On the offensive end, Boyd began strong with seven points in the opening eight minutes on 3-for-4 shooting, including a shot from beyond the arc that gave the Bears a 9-8 lead with 14:08 to go in the half.
Gray picked up her second foul defended Mikaela Ruef with 10:44 to go in the first half, forcing the All-America candidate to the bench with Stanford leading 15-13. The Cardinal used the opportunity to jump out on an 11-0 scoring run and take a 10-point lead, 23-13, with 8:43 to go before Jemerigbe hit a jump shot followed by a three-pointer to end the bleeding.
With Gray on the bench, Ogwumike rebounded from her early 1-for-4 effort to make three of her next four shots while Boyd and Jemerigbe combined to score the first 18 points for the Golden Bears.
Stanford showed signs of jumping out on Cal until Hind Ben Abdelkader hit a three-pointer with 3:31 remaining in the half to make it a six-point game, 31-25. However, those three by Ben Abdelkader were the last points that the Bears would score for the remainder of the half as Stanford closed out the first period on a 12-0 run – eight of the points by Karlie Samuelson – to take a 43-25 lead into halftime.
The Cardinal again jumped out to a 12-0 run early in the second half, changing a 47-29 lead into a 59-29 lead with 13:34 to go in the half.
Not one to lay down, the Bears responded to Stanford’s 12-0 run with an immediate 14-0 run of their own to bring the score to 59-43 with 9:08 to go in the first half. Brandon scored seven of the 14 points for the Bears. It took two free throws from Ogwumike to break the Cal stride but not the Cal spirit as Range came right back down to cut it to 61-45 on a layup.
The Bears continued to climb back into the game, and the pressure mounted up on the Cardinal, forcing Stanford into mental mistakes that allowed the Bears to keep clawing back. A free throw by Jemerigbe cut the score to 65-53, and Ogwumike was whistled for a charge just four seconds later after pulling down a defensive rebound.
With under a minute to play, Boyd made it a 10-point game, 69-59, after hitting a layup and subsequent free throw after being fouled. After the Bears forced a Stanford turnover on the ensuing possession, Boyd hit a layup to make it 69-64, and Jemerigbe followed it up with a three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to make it a five-point game, 69-64.
California had a chance to complete the epic comeback with an attempt in the final seconds that would have made it interesting, but Stanford held on for the 70-64 win.
The two teams meet again this Sunday at 1p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 with Brenda VanLangen and LaChina Robinson on the call.