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Cal Women's Basketball Falls To Stanford 60-55

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Can Cal reverse a close loss to Stanford with the benefit of home court advantage?

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

When: 7:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Network
Live Stats

Here's the recap:

Part two of the highly anticipated Battle of the Bay between Cal and No. 15 Stanford was everything fans have come to expect from the heated crosstown clash - tough shots, stifling defenses and the kind of grit that only comes from playing your fiercest conference rival. Unfortunately for Cal, while the Golden Bears gritted it out for all 40 minutes, the upset bid fell short 60-55 Friday night in Haas Pavilion.

Cal (11-12, 2-10 Pac-12) led by seven points, 34-27, at halftime but went 1-10 in the third quarter for a season-low four points while Stanford (19-5, 9-4 Pac-12) opened the second half on a 13-0 run to gain control of the game for good. The Bears' fourth-quarter comeback effort brought them within three points in the final 30 seconds of the game, 56-53, but Cal couldn't close it out with a stop when it needed one.

Junior Courtney Range scored a game-high 25 points, and freshman Kristine Anigwe finished one board shy of her 11th double-double of the season with 12 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Gabby Green made her return to the lineup after missing five consecutive contests.

Freshman Asha Thomas quickly fired off a three-pointer to put the Bears on the board to open the game, and Cal stifled the Cardinal offense in its first possession, forcing a shot clock violation and bringing the Haas crowd of a season-high 5,632 fans roaring to its feet. The Bears scored five before Stanford could get its first points on the board, and Cal stretched its lead to as much as seven points in the first quarter as Thomas found classmate MaAne' Mosley at 1:48. The Bears kept the Cardinal at bay with a steal and a pair of offensive rebounds in the final 1:30 to lead 18-13 at the end of the period.

Stanford tried to put the game back in its control in the second but Cal refused to ease up, maintaining its lead for all 10 minutes. Though the Cardinal pulled within one point at 5:25, the Bears grabbed defensive rebounds on every Stanford shooting effort to extend the led. Range put the lid on the second quarter with a long-ranging trey in the last 20 seconds, and Cal led 34-27.

While Stanford's shooting started at 50 percent in the first quarter, the Cardinal tapered off with a 26.3 percent effort in the second quarter for a 35.5 percent first half. Meanwhile, the Bears did the opposite, building from 35.3 percent to 45.5 percent to shoot nearly 40 percent through the first 20 minutes.

Range led the Bears at halftime with a game-high 16 points, followed by eight points from Anigwe.

The Cardinal opened the second half on a 13-0 run before Cal could get its first basket after the break, scoring on a Mikayla Cowling layup at the four-minute mark. By then, Stanford had stolen the lead, 40-36, and the Bears found themselves in a hole for the first time all night. With the tables turned, the Bears were forced to spend the rest of the quarter chipping away. The sides traded free throws in the final three minutes, but Stanford led 42-38 entering the final stretch.

Stanford drained a pair of threes in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to push its lead to eight. A pair of jumpers by Cowling and sophomore Penina Davidson put the game back within four points. The Cardinal offense pushed the lead back to six points in the visiting team's favor. Range sank a three with 26 seconds to go to keep Cal's glimmer of hope alive, 56-53, but the Bear defense couldn't get the stop.

Cal vs. Stanford, take two

I wasn't able to watch Tuesday night's game against Stanford, but from a glance at game reports and the box score, the Bears appeared to play pretty excellent defense. It was the offense (specifically shooting) that let the Bears down. After hitting 12 threes against Washington they sank just 2 against Stanford which shooting 28% for the game. Alas.

On the bright side: Cal more or less played Stanford evenly on turnovers and rebounds, and got to the line a bit more often. If Cal could duplicate their defensive effort from Tuesday, you'd like their chances to pull the mild upset today.

Roster

Starters

G Lili Thompson, 5'7'' Junior
G Briana Roberson, 5'7'' Junior
G Karlie Samuelson, 6'0'' Junior
F Kaylee Johnson, 6'3'' Sophomore
F Erica McCall, 6'3'' Junior

Bench

G Brittany McPhee, 6'0'' Sophomore
F Alanna Smith, 6'3'' Freshman
F Kailee Johnson, 6'3'' Junior
G Marta Sniezek, 5'8'' Freshman

Stanford sticks to a very strick 9 player rotation, and Thompson, McCall and Samuelson are the three key players. McCall is the do-everything post player, and Samuelson spends most of her time trying to rain threes from the perimeter. Thompson is really the only versatile threat, a player who can score off the bounce just as much as she can shoot or dish assists.

Cal did a good job on everybody but Samuelson on Tuesday. Stanford's best shooter was able to get off 4 three pointers, hitting on 3 of them. Thompson also got off more than Cal would prefer, although she wasn't nearly as accurate. Cal's ability to run Stanford off the line will be something to watch.

Keys to the Game

1. Bring the same level of defensive effort/execution

The Bears held Stanford to roughly .82 points/possession. Some of that was down to cold shooting, but the Bears did a good job sealing the paint (Stanford: 33% on 2 point shot attempts) and forcing turnovers against a team not inclined to cough up the ball. A similar effort will be needed.

2. Limit 3 point attempts

If Cal can improve anything from their defensive performance, it will be allowing fewer 3 point attempts. Stanford got off 17 shots from deep, and hit exactly on their season average percentage. Those 18 points were critical for the Cardinal. It will be tough for Cal to do a ton better, but it might be necessary. Stanford's interior options are generally weaker, so it's a trade off the Bears need to force.

3. Hit shots

Does anybody feel like Cal either shoots 10-28 from three, or 2-11? That's mostly a reflection of whether or not the defense is triple teaming Anigwe or not, but the variation is odd.

In any case, Cal didn't shoot the ball well against Stanford on Tuesday, but that wasn't all down to what is admittedly a very good Stanford defense. Just got to finish shots.