By John Crumpacker
Photo Brant Ward
There was a type of home-and-home symmetry to Stanford’s 80-69 win over Cal at Haas Pavilion to start the second half of the Pac-12 season.
The Bears got over on Stanford 69-62 at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 2 in the first game of the conference schedule.
On Wednesday, a Cardinal team determined not to be swept by the Bears turned in a dominant performance and brought Cal back to reality after its upset of then-No. 1 Arizona Saturday night.
Stanford’s win leaves the rivals tied for third with Colorado in the Pac-12, all at 6-4.
Forward Dwight Powell powered the Cardinal (15-7 overall) with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, all while avoiding any personal fouls in 39 minutes. Guards Chasson Randle (19) and Anthony Brown (16) combined for 35 points.
“Anytime you have a rival game, you never know what you’re going to get,” Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We’re fortunate we came out as the winner tonight. I was proud of our guys, mainly because Cal made that run in the first half that’s hard to withstand. I found out our guys have a lot of substance.”
Cal, meanwhile, dropped to 15-8 overall, unable to use the momentum of its win over Arizona for anything tangible.
So who is this Cal team? The one that toppled Arizona a few days ago or the one that has dropped four of its past five in the Pac-12? It’s hard to get a read on the Bears.
“There’s no read to be gotten,” head coach Mike Montgomery said. “If you play well, if you play hard, you can beat anybody. If you don’t, you can get beat by anybody. It’s no more complex than that.”
Asked about the disparity in his team’s recent play, forward David Kravish said, “It’s frustrating. We’ve got to figure that out.”
Point guard Justin Cobbs had 24 points for the Bears but his five turnovers proved costly; all told, Stanford scored 21 points off 13 Cal turnovers. Guard Tyrone Wallace had a career-high 21 points and Kravish had 12, six in the game’s first three minutes.
After Stanford bolted to a 38-20 lead in the first half on Randle’s three-point shot with 6:32 to go, Cal responded with a 16-4 run to close out the half trailing 42-36.
“We got three good looks coming out of the locker room (for the second half) and didn’t make any of them,” Montgomery said. “We made some poor decisions mentally instead of being patient. Turnovers happened at critical times.”
Cal got Stanford’s lead down to five on two occasions in the early going of the second half but got no closer. When Powell dropped in a free throw with 10:08 left for 57-47, Stanford’s lead stayed at 10 and above the rest of the way.
Brown’s driving layup and free throw pushed the Cardinal’s lead to 68-52 with 3:52 to play and served as a “game’s over” moment when many in the crowd of 9,115 headed for the exits.
“This was a big game for us,” Brown said. “Cal was ahead of us in the standings. We didn’t want them to sweep us. This is not something you can take long-term. You have to take it one game at a time.”
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