Men: California 77, Stanford 71
By Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - Stanford might have cost Cal a Pac-12 regular-season title, but the Bears wouldn't be denied a chance to advance to the semifinals of the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament at Staples Center.
The Bears rallied back from a rough first half and rode a balanced offensive effort to a 77-71 win over Stanford.
Cal (24-8) is slated to play the winner of the Thursday late game between Colorado and Oregon in the last semifinal Friday at 8:30 p.m. The Bears are looking for a spot in the title game and to solidify their NCAA position.
Senior Jorge Gutierrez, the Pac-12's Player of the Year, set the pace with 22 points for his team. But he got plenty of help.
Center Harper Kamp added 16 and point guard Justin Cobbs finished with 15 as the Bears had all five starters in double-figures.
Stanford, meanwhile, got a career-high 22 points from senior forward Andrew Zimmerman and 18 from freshman Chasson Randle, who was coming off his 30-point effort against Arizona State on Wednesday.
Cal was looking to avenge last Sunday's 75-70 loss to Stanford which prevented the Bears from tying for the Pac-12 regular-season title. Cal finished one game behind Washington and with the No. 2 seed.
The teams split the regular-season series, each team winning at home.
The rubber match between these two rivals was choppy in the first half, Stanford grabbing the 30-23 lead with an advantage at the free-throw line. The Cardinal were 8-of-9 from the line and Cal was 0-for-4 and it was the difference as Stanford led 30-23 at the half, despite behind out-rebounded.
Cal didn't help itself with 14 first-half turnovers.
But the Bears cleaned things up in the second half and opened with a 15-3 run to go in front by 43-38 on a 3-pointer by Gutierrez with 14:31 to go.
Stanford tied the game as late 4:59 to go, a jumper by Zimmerman knotting the score at 62-62.
But Cal went on one last run, scoring eight unanswered points, including four free-throws by Cobbs to nail down the victory. Cal was 24 of 27 from the line in the second half.
Stanford's tournament ends with the Cardinal sitting at 21-10 and hoping for a spot in the postseason.
"It was a hard fought game in which Cal had a terrific second half and played very well," said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. "They hit us early in the second half, they got some momentum and it was a battle for the remainder of the game.
"I thought we were right there though. I thought we had our chances."