Despite coming back from a double-digit deficit against Cal (18-9, 9-7 Pac-12), No. 16 Stanford women’s basketball (19-9, 13-3) saw its seven-game streak snapped in Berkeley this Sunday as the Bears downed the Cardinal 78-66.
Down 11 in the fourth quarter, the Cardinal were able to pull within four after a 7-0 run. The offensive spurt was capped by senior guard Brittany McPhee’s steal and layup with just over seven minutes to go in the contest. The Bears, eager to avenge their close loss in Maples a few days earlier, never let Stanford come closer than two points and sealed the win from downtown.
After McPhee’s layup, Cal sank three shots from the charity stripe. On the following play, freshman guard Kiana Williams made a jumper from the free throw line off a screen from junior forward Alanna Smith. The junior was served moments later by fellow classmates Marta Sniezek and drained a three-pointer to make it a two-point game, 62-60.
Nonetheless, Cal struck back with three consecutive treys from distance, including one from far beyond the arc. The Bears then went 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the double-digit win.
“I think our defense let us down the whole game,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “They were driving in, getting deep and scoring. I don’t think we were competitive enough.”
Stanford was trailing for most of the night, and came within two points of Cal three times, including once when the Cardinal tied the score at 23 in the second frame after a 7-0 run. Up 36-34 at halftime, the Bears pulled away thanks to an 8-0 scoring spurt in the third quarter, and held on to their lead to hand Stanford its first loss in more than a month.
Once again, McPhee was the leading scorer on the night, as she dropped 24 points. Smith was a close second behind McPhee as she recorded 20 points on the night, and Williams contributed 14 for the Cardinal.
This game was one of the few times this season when the Cardinal have been out-rebounded. Cal came out strong off the glass and collected 46 board, 22 more than the Cardinal.
“Cal was extremely aggressive,” VanDerveer said. “Whether it was turning us over, out-rebounding us, defending. They came out with a great game plan and got after it.”
While Stanford already clinched a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament that will take place March 1-4 in Seattle, Sunday’s loss put the team one game behind Oregon who swept its weekend at home against UCLA and USC. However, Stanford is in sole second in the conference after rival UCLA collected two losses against Oregon and Oregon State this weekend.
As a result, the Cardinal need to win both of its games against Washington and Washington State next weekend and hope that Oregon drops at least one game in the desert in order to win their first regular-season conference title since 2014.
Stanford heads north to the play the Washington schools starting with Washington on Friday at 8 p.m. and then, Washington State on Sunday at 1 p.m. The games will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.