In the first of a two-game series between No. 10 Stanford (22-4, 12-2 Pac-12) and Cal (17-9, 5-9), the Cardinal edged the Bears 72-66, souring Cal’s final home game of the season and senior night. The two teams will square off again on Sunday at Stanford.
The game was a back and forth affair, with no team leading by any more than six points at any point during the game. The game was tied at 66 with just 59 seconds remaining, before two free throws, a layup and two more free throws gave Stanford the lead.
Stanford struggled offensively for much of the game, going just 25-for-67 (37.3 percent) from the floor, but got a much needed scoring boost off the bench from sophomore forward Alanna Smith. Smith scored a game- and career-high 27 points in 28 minutes, going 9-for-18 on field goals, including 3-for-5 from distance and 6-for-8 from the charity stripe.
Smith was coming off a 16 point outing versus Utah Sunday night, but averaged only 6.6 points per game and 16.1 minutes per game on the year. On the night, Smith also added three blocks and six rebounds. On the whole, Stanford outrebounded Cal 44 to 34 behind an impressive 14 rebounds from senior forward Erica McCall, who also added 11 points.
Stanford made up for some of its cold shooting by capitalizing on its many trips to the free throw line. The Cardinal made 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) free throws, compared to only 6-of-8 by the Bears. That free throw differential proved to be a key difference, with the game’s final margin of just six points.
Cal brought a balanced attack, boasting five scorers in double digits. Junior forward Mikayla Cowling stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, six assists, three rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. And fellow junior forward Penina Davidson contributed 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Also in double figures for Cal were sophomore guard Asha Thomas, freshman guard Mi’Cole Cayton, and sophomore forward Kristine Anigwe.
However, Cal’s balance was no match for the stellar play of Smith, as they just didn’t have answers for her on the defensive end. Stanford senior guard Karlie Samuelson contributed 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, as well.
Stanford and Cal tip off again Sunday at 5 p.m. in Maples Pavilion in part two of the home-and-home.
Contact Jamie MacFarlane at jamiemac ‘at’ stanford.edu