Bears' Upset Bid Thwarted By No. 2 Stanford
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
BERKELEY, Calif.- Mike Montgomery is finally willing to acknowledge that this Stanford team will probably keep winning.
Rob Little scored 16 points to lead No. 2 Stanford to its school-record 21st straight victory, 69-58 over archrival California on Saturday night.
Josh Childress added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinal (21-0, 12-0 Pac-10), playing for the first time since a thrilling 80-77 victory over Arizona last weekend that ended on Nick Robinson's 35-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Stanford, off to its best start ever, is one of only two remaining undefeated Division I teams along with third-ranked Saint Joseph's (22-0), a 73-59 winner over Rhode Island on Saturday.
'It's the best we've ever done at the school,' said the always critical Montgomery, in his 18th year as coach. 'I had to change my tune with the guys. We're not afraid of winning every game. I think some of that was starting to creep in, that it would be bad if we won every game. We're trying to win every game, but it's ludicrous for us to act and think like we're going to win every game and we're the greatest.
'If somebody asked me if I thought we had a chance of going into the tournament undefeated, I'd say we have the best chance aside from one other team (Saint Joseph's).'
Marquise Kately had 16 points and Amit Tamir 14 for cold-shooting Cal (11-10, 7-5), which made only 21.7 percent of its second-half field goals. The Golden Bears had won three straight and many thought this was the game in which the Cardinal could be most susceptible to an upset after the Bears lost at Stanford last month, 68-61.
Matt Lottich added 12 points and five assists as the Cardinal broke a two-game losing streak in Berkeley, where the Bears had won five of six conference games.
'I think Stanford has a good chance of winning each game they play,' Cal coach Ben Braun said. 'Those guys made the adjustments.'
A sellout crowd of 11,877 packed Haas Pavilion, and students camped out overnight to secure a seat for the third sellout of the season.
Stanford used man-to-man and zone defense to hold Cal leading scorer and rebounder Leon Powe without a field goal (0-for-5) and to only two rebounds. Powe fought foul trouble all game and spent more time on the bench than he did on the court. He was scoreless until making two free throws 2:41 before halftime and finished with seven points. After attempting two first-half field goals, the three he took in the second half all got touched, including two impressive blocks - one by Childress.
'They're a very good defensive team,' Powe said. 'They're a good team period. I didn't play most of the game, only 18 minutes, and I couldn't get in a flow. I'll give it up to them. It's frustrating. We've got to correct what we did down the stretch making mistakes.'
Cal picked the perfect way to fire up its fans: bring Jason Kidd into the building.
The Bears retired Kidd's No. 5 jersey in a pregame ceremony. His uniform joins Kevin Johnson's No. 11 and Alfred Grigsby's No. 4 hanging from the rafters in Haas Pavilion.
Kidd spoke to the team before the game, but the Bears came out cold, starting the game 5-for-17 before getting into an offensive flow.
Late in the half, Cal got back-to-back turnovers but couldn't convert either into points. Rod Benson picked off a pass by Cardinal point guard Chris Hernandez in the backcourt, but was whistled for an offensive foul trying to score. On Stanford's next possession, Hernandez was called for a 5-second violation, but Cal's A.J. Diggs immediately got a technical and Hernandez made both free throws.
When Richard Midgley stole the ball from Robinson in the first half, Hernandez chased him down and tipped the ball away and both players went sliding head first under a band member holding a set of tenor drums. Midgley then got another steal that led to a booming, two-handed dunk by Kately on the way to Cal's 37-35 halftime lead.
Braun wrote a note that was handed out to students before the game telling them, 'We need you to be as loud as ever,' but it also included a message encouraging sportsmanship.
He probably didn't see Stanford's tree mascot provoke Cal's rowdy student section when he pulled up his mask and revealed his face, then made an obscene gesture toward the students before tipoff.
Matt Haryasz, a backup power forward, returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. Stanford is still without starting forward Justin Davis, sidelined with a bruised bone and partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He is on crutches.
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