Cal lost by six. I counted six Stanford points in the second half alone (two pointer by Mitch Johnson, three pointer by Lawrence Hill, free throw by somebody) that were absolute gifts. All three of these shots bounced off the rim, bounced high in the air, and somehow found their way through the hoop. Take away those shots, we have a tie game.
Ok, maybe you don't buy that analysis. Maybe that's too simplistic, breaking down a two hour game into simple lucky breaks. Let's look at free throws instead - Cal made two, Stanford made nine. That's a difference of seven, and Cal lost by six.
I was very wrong about this game. I thought our forwards and their forwards would be a wash. I thought our wings and their wings would be a wash. And I thought Jerome Randle would dominate Mitch Johnson and Drew Shiller, giving the game to the bears. Instead, our forwards>>>their forwards (Jamal Boykin went for a career high 22 on 10-13 shooting to go with 7 boards; he was almost perfect aside from an ill-advised three pointer late in the second half), their wings>>>our wings (Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods = 44 points, Theo Robertson and Patrick Christopher = 26 points), and while Randle finished with better numbers than Johnson (13 points and 7 assists versus 7 points and 5 assists), Randle struggled with turnovers (6), especially when attacking the lane. Johnson had a couple of nice assists late and even contributed some points on hideous looking jumpers. I think he has a future in the shot put.
We still love you coach!
Cal pretty much ran into the perfect storm tonight. Stanford shot 55% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Was their offense better than Cal's? Well, Cal had 22 assists on 31 field goals, while Stanford had only 13 on 30 buckets. Sometimes teams just shoot the lights out, regardless of their shot selection or how well they run their offense. Cal was simply unfortunate to face such a team tonight.
I wouldn't say the officiating was horrible tonight (certainly not compared to the Standford/Cal games last year), but Cal was whistled for 19 fouls, while Stanford was only called for 10. Stanford shot 17 free throws, while Cal only shot 3! Some of the discrepancy is due to Cal's last minute fouls as they tried to extend the game, but not all. I felt that Cal and Stanford were equally aggressive, which should lead to an approximately even free throw and foul distribution. Monty seems to agree with me.
So Stanford shoots the lights out, even though Cal ran their offense more efficiently, and had 14 more free throw attempts to boot - they were still up by only four with 30 seconds left. Remember that Cal was down by 5 to UW with 30 seconds left in the second overtime, and we all know how that ended. Aside from their free throw shooting woes (9 out of 17, 52%), Stanford had the perfect confluence of good fortune, luck, and solid play...and still only led by 4, at home, with 30 seconds left. If I sound skeptical that they will experience a repeat of these favorable circumstances when they visit Berkeley in a month, that's because I am. So let's keep our heads up, as we remain in first place in the PAC-10 with 0-6 Oregon and (likely) 1-5 OSU coming to town this week. And hey, at least we beat ASU at home.