The last time the Cal women’s basketball team upset Stanford at Maples Pavillion was in 2007. It was also the last time that the Cardinal lost a Pac-12 game at home.
Eighty-one home conference victories later, the Bears ended the streak with a huge 67-55 upset victory on Sunday afternoon. Behind a stellar rebounding effort, No. 7 Cal finally got the signature win that may finally bump the team into the elite echelon of college basketball.
“It feels amazing,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We have been trying to make that next step and to come in here and finally have our players be able to celebrate that next step is great for us.”
Cal (13-2, 3-1 in the Pac-12) started cold, missing its first eight shots and falling behind No.5 Stanford, 8-2. The Cardinal (14-2, 3-1) defense dared the shooters to shoot from behind the three-point arc, choosing to rather stuff the post against the forwards.
The Bears got their first field goal at the 13:50 mark with a layup off a steal by guard Layshia Clarendon.
Cal began to battle back through offensive rebounds, either winning back the missed shot or earning a foul. At the 11:52 mark with two Brittany Boyd free throws, the Bears crawled back into a 12-10 score.
“We played Cal basketball,” Gottlieb said. “We pushed the tempo and played fast. I am really proud of how we fought through that tough shooting start.”
Halfway through the first half, Cal took its first lead at 15-14 after a three pointer from guard Mikayla Lyles. Lyles provided a spark off the bench, scoring 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting from behind the arc in the first half alone.
“What can I say about Mikayla Lyles,” Gottlieb said. “A kid that doesn’t play that much but she is always ready.”
Similar to Tuesday’s game against Stanford, Cal took a lead to halftime. Despite a meager 33.3 percent shooting percentage, Cal built their lead to eight at 39-31 behind an unstoppable rebounding effort, notching 15 offensive rebounds.
Cal’s defense began the second half right where it left off, preventing start forward Chiney Ogwumike from getting a shot off and causing a shot clock violation on Stanford’s first offensive possession.
At the 15:45 mark, center Talia Caldwell and guard Brittany Boyd ran a pick-and-roll that finished with an easy layup by Caldwell, pushing the Cal lead to 12 at 45-33.
The Bears encountered another field goal drought for 5 minutes following the Caldwell layup. However, Stanford endured their own offensive struggles with a 1-for-7 shooting, only able to cut the deficit by four. Clarendon ended the streak with a corner three-pointer, quickly nullifying the slow Cardinal momentum.
With 7:43 left, Boyd nailed a three-pointer to push the lead to a game-high 16 points. The increasingly quiet Stanford crowd seemed to slowly realize that the streak was nearing its end.
Cal’s offensive balance helped the team to the 12-point victory. Four Bears scored double digit points, with Boyd leading the way with 19 points. Ogwumike, who was doubled all game by Cal, led the Cardinal with 18 points.
In rebounds, the Bears held a 54-45 advantage and chalked in 17 offensive rebounds. The victory at the battle of the boards was the decisive factor in the game which will certainly go down as a classic great in program history.
Austin Crochetiere covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]