Cal swept by No. 5 Stanford, remains winless in Pac-12 play

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It wasn’t but a few weeks ago when Cal was riding the wave of a seven-game win streak, exceeding expectations with a new head coach and young roster. With the start of conference play, however, came the start of the Bears’ spiral down the standings that now finds them in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

On Friday, the Bears took the short trip down to Palo Alto with the aim of handing the Cardinal their second loss of the season. Those hopes died pretty early, however, as Stanford went on a stifling 25-1 run between the first and second quarters, which all but put the dagger in Cal. The Bears were never able to rebound, and eventually went home the recipients of a 33-point blowout.

Jaelyn Brown, who has been Cal’s go-to offensive star for the entire season, was virtually shut down, only making two shots the entire night. While the rest of her teammates shot a respectable 41.2% from three on the evening, the Bears were horrific from close and intermediate range, which pulled the team’s overall field goal percentage down to just 27.3%.

Meanwhile, Stanford’s freshman duo of Haley Jones and Ashten Prechtel combined for a dazzling 30 points, thoroughly outplaying Cal’s own group of talented first-years. The Bears as a whole were clearly disadvantaged in the physicality apartment, which was made apparent by the fact that Stanford outrebounded Cal 50-29. The victory was Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer’s 500th Pac-12 win, marking the first time a women’s basketball coach has hit that win total in a single conference.

It wouldn’t be much longer before she reached 501, as the Bears welcomed the Cardinal on Sunday for the second game of the series. While Cal regained its shooting touch a bit, the team was again overpowered inside, exemplified by Stanford outscoring Cal by 32 points in the paint. The Cardinal’s Kiana Williams and Jones each put up 21 points, and Stanford ended the night shooting over 53% from the field.

On the other side, Brown got back to her ways with 14 points, which led the way for Cal, but her efforts were not enough to take down one of the best teams in the country. Although the Bears narrowed the lead to within two possessions in the third quarter, Stanford led for the entire game and advanced to 4-0 in conference play with the win.

On the flip side, the Bears now sit at 0-4, and will likely drop to 0-6 if Cal cannot pull out a miracle upset against No. 8 Oregon State or No. 6 Oregon this weekend. The sweep was Stanford’s first over Cal since the Bears’ 2016-17 campaign, as the blue and gold were able to defeat ranked Cardinal teams at Haas Pavilion both last season and the season prior.

The game also marked the start of the 150th anniversary of women at UC Berkeley, which will be celebrated throughout the 2020 calendar year with different honors and events. For Sunday’s game, Chancellor Carol Christ, who was the first woman to hold the title of chancellor of the university, was named an honorary coach.

While the celebration undoubtedly put a smile on fans’ faces, Cal must get back in the win column to quickly to keep fans in the stands.

Shailin Singh covers football. Contact him at [email protected].