Bears Battle but Lose to No.10 Stanford 72-66


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By Viet Nguyen, Staff Writer
Posted Feb 16, 2017
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2017

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The California Golden Bears had a late lead on No. 10 Stanford but could not execute down the stretch, falling 72-66 in their final home game of the season.

"It was a great game," said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "The game was tied 12 times, five lead changes. We couldn't close it out down the stretch. [We showed] a tremendous amount of resilience, a lot of fight."

Cal had five players in double-figure scoring, led by Mikayla Cowling's 14. Penina Davidson and Mi'Cole Cayton had 13 and 11, respectively, while Asha Thomas and Kristine Anigwe each had 10. Senior Courtney Range, in her final game at Haas, had four points and three rebounds.

Alanna Smith scored 27 points in 28 minutes for Stanford before fouling out. Karlie Samuelson hit three of four from distance and contributed 17. Despite shooting poorly, Stanford stayed in the game in second half by outrebounding the Bears (44-34 Stanford), led by 14 from Erica McCall.

Stanford was one of their first six shots but finally became untracked, ignited by a fastbreak lay-up by Briana Roberson. Alanna Smith and Karlie Samuelson followed with threes, and Stanford was ahead 10-5 with five minutes gone.

Kristine Anigwe hit consecutive midrange jumpers in response, and Asha Thomas put in a twisting circus shot. A three point play by Penina Davidson knotted the game at 14.

"I expected that they would double [Anigwe] hard," said Gottlieb. "So the mentality was that everyone was ready to score."

Smith hit a third-chance opportunity lay-up, and Marta Sniezek scored on a reverse to close out the first period, with Stanford up 20-16.

Courtney Range grabbed an offensive rebound and created her own shot, hitting a pull up, to open the second.

Smith responded with two scores inside to extend the Stanford lead, 24-18. The Cardinal repeated beat Cal down the floor, scoring before Cal could set their defense.

Down 29-23, Cal started their comeback. Cowling called for a screen from Davidson and knocked down a wing jumper.

CJ West gave Cal good minutes off the bench, playing disciplined defense down low and grabbing rebounds. Fellow frosh Mi'Cole converted a steal into a fastbreak score, and then when Cayton missed a drive attempt, West was there to put it back, tying the game at 29.

Cal was suddenly the more energetic team, and Cowling attacked towards the hoop, only to dump it off to Davidson at the last second. Davidson converted over the front of the rim, and the Bears had regained the lead, 31-29, hitting six of their last nine attempts

After a time-out, Stanford tied the game with a drive from Roberson, Stanford's first basket in nearly four minutes.

Anigwe scored down low on a re-post to open the third. The star center had shown a better willingness all game to take what the defense allowed.

Cowling had two quick steals, and Stanford missed multiple shots, but Cal could not take advantage, repeatedly giving up the offensive rebound. Stanford had 10 rebounds to Cal's one to begin the third.

Two Smith free-throws tied the game.

Mi'Cole Cayton hit a three with 5:40 on the clock. It was the Bears' first trey in eight attempts.

The Bears knocked down their next attempt from distance, as Cayton pushed the ball and found a trailing Cowling, whose trailer three kept Cal ahead, 41-35.

Samuelson responded with a three of her own, and two Sniezek free-throws closed the gap to within one.

Thomas hit a three, and West knocked down a jumper from the top of the key, but Brittany McPhee's three-point play kept Stanford close. After three, Cal led only 48-47, despite holding Stanford to 28% shooting in the quarter.

Smith hit a three to open the fourth, and Stanford was back in lead, 50-48.

A three by Thomas helped Cal edge ahead, and the Bears built a 57-52 lead.

Erica McCall's three-point play on a well-executed pick and roll tied the game at 57.

Cal came right back with early offense. Anigwe hit a pull up, and then Davidson scored down low, and the Bears were ahead 61-57, with 5:31 to play.

The Bears began to try to force the ball into Anigwe, but the attempts led to multiple turnovers and run-outs.

Alanna Smith hit four consecutive free-throws to tie the game with 3:13 to play. She then hit a three to give Stanford the 64-61 lead, with 2:40 to play.

Smith then picked up her fifth foul on Cowling's attempted three. Cowling hit all her free-throws to tie the game.

The game was tied at 66 with 1:04 to go. But then it was all Stanford the rest of the way.

After a reviewed play, Stanford got the ball. McCall earned a trip to the line, and her two free-throws gave Stanford the lead with 59.1 seconds to play. Anigwe picked up her fourth foul on the play.

On the other end, Anigwe missed against the double team.

Stanford missed but regained possession with 13.6 seconds to play. The Cardinal ran an effective inbounds play, finding McPhee for an open shot and the two-possession lead.

After a time-out, the Bears isolated Anigwe for a quick shot in the paint, but the ball rimmed out, and Stanford had held off the spirited Cal effort.

"We get a chance at them on Sunday," said Gottlieb. "And we hope to make some corrections: the 19 offensive rebounds, the 18 free-throw attempts, and Smith having a career game."

The loss dropped Cal to 17-10 (5-10 in the Pac-12). A win would have bolstered the Bears' NCAA resume, but Gottlieb wants to continue to look ahead.

"We have to get one," said Gottlieb. "We've put ourselves in this situation, where it's still in our control, absolutely in our control. Everyone knows that we are capable, but we've got to get one of these down the stretch here. I have confidence in our players that we will."

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