Stanford holds off Cal 31-28 under sloppy Big Game conditions

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Stanford holds off Cal 31-28 under sloppy Big Game conditions

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STANFORD (AP) -- Andrew Luck slogged through a soggy field, all smiles, hands raised, taking a little extra time watching his Stanford teammates sprint to lift The Axe in triumph.

One last Big Game moment to savor.

Luck threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and No. 8 Stanford survived a shaky start to beat rival California 31-28 on Saturday night in rain-soaked Big Game with a rare late start under the lights.

"It means a lot," said Luck, who has insisted this year will be his last in a Cardinal uniform. "It will mean more once the season is over, I'm sure, you get to reminisce. I feel very grateful and blessed winning two games in a row against them and retaining The Axe another year."

The pelting rain did little to slow Luck down.

Luck revived his Heisman Trophy campaign by tossing scores to Levine Toilolo and Ryan Hewitt, keeping the Cardinal's slim chances of a Pac-12 title and national championship alive. He overcame an early interception and rallied Stanford (10-1, 8-1) from six points down to keep The Axe on The Farm for the second straight season.

"It's special," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "It didn't really hit me until today. You look in the seniors' eyes, they wanted it so bad. As a coach, you can't help but pull for your guys and want them to be successful."

Cal's quarterback might have been the better of the two for long stretches.

Zach Maynard finished with 280 yards passing with two touchdowns for the Golden Bears (6-5, 3-5) in the 114th edition of the Bay Area rivalry. Cal's offense struggled in the second half before a late comeback came up short.

Stanford had its 17-game winning streak snapped the previous Saturday in a 53-30 loss to Oregon that seemed to dash its national championship dreams. With No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Clemson all falling this week, the Cardinal's chances might not seem so far-fetched anymore.

They host Notre Dame in the regular-season finale looking to stay in the hunt for another BCS bowl - if not a slim shot at the national title - but can only reach the Pac-12 title game if Oregon loses at home to rival Oregon State.

Stanford stuck it out in the slop and emerged with a victory to save what's left of its season.

With a steady stream of rain falling, Luck connected with Toilolo for a 4-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter to extend the Cardinal's lead to 21-13. Stanford stifled Cal's offense again and quickly put the ball back in the hands of its star quarterback.

Luck wasted little time.

He found Toilolo for a 41-yard gain and finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to fullback Hewitt to put Stanford in front 28-13.

The Cardinal wasted an opportunity to put the game away earlier when Isi Sofele fumbled. Stanford took over and punted quickly, and Cal pushed ahead with the momentum.

Maynard led a 68-yard drive ending with a short TD pass to Spencer Hagan on third down. After a 2-point conversion on a pass to Marvin Jones, Cal cut Stanford's lead to 28-21 with 10:53 left.

"It was kind of frustrating because they were running the ball a lot right up the middle of the field and controlling the clock," Maynard said. "We had to hurry up and run a two-minute offense, and after that, we just ran out of time."

All that time quickly vanished.

Stanford grinded out 7:40 with a 14-play, 57-yard drive with a series of short runs and passes on slick, soggy field that had defenders sliding in every direction. Even running backs, too.

Jordan Williamson, who missed a 33-yard field goal wide left in the first half and hadn't played in the last three games because of an undisclosed injury, kicked a 35-yard field to give the Cardinal a two-score cushion.

"You've got to have faith in your players," Shaw said. "He missed a kick, but that was the right decision at the time."

That proved pivotal when C.J. Anderson ran for a 1-yard TD run for the Bears with 14 seconds left. But tight end Coby Fleener easily recoved the onside kick to seal Stanford's victory.

The Bears could at least take some satisfaction in closing the disparity between the two teams.

The distance was quite evident a year ago in Berkeley, when Luck and the Cardinal beat the Bears 48-14 in the most lopsided Big Game in 80 years. Cal left Stanford with a 34-28 victory in 2009.

"Any time you lay it all out there like our guys did, these guys have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They played their hearts out against a really good football team."

This time, both teams had sloppy starts.

Stanford recovered Maynard's wayward pitch back on the game's opening drive and took over at its own 37. Three plays later, freshman Ty Montgomery took a reverse and sprinted 34 yards down the sideline to put the Cardinal ahead 7-0.

The poise and polish Luck has showed so often in his college career again took time to emerge.

Steve Williams stepped in front of a falling Montgomery to intercept Luck's pass and return it 49 yards for a score that was called back because of an illegal block in the back. No matter.

Maynard found half-brother Keenan Allen for a 17-yard TD pass and Giogio Tavecchio kicked his second field goal from 19 yards to give Cal a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.

Stanford powered its way through the rain with a bunched-up running game - and not Luck - to regain its rhythm, ending a 10-play, 78-yard drive with Tyler Gaffney's short TD run to go ahead 14-13 at the half.

Cal never came that close again.

No. 20 Saint Mary's holds off Santa Clara in WCC finale

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No. 20 Saint Mary's holds off Santa Clara in WCC finale

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MORAGA — Jock Landale scored 17 points and No. 20 Saint Mary's beat Santa Clara 70-56 on Saturday night in the West Coast Conference regular season finale for both teams.

Emmett Naar and Calvin Hermanson scored 13 points apiece and Dane Pineau added 10 points to help the Gaels (26-3, 15-3) complete a season sweep of the Broncos.

Saint Mary's will get a week off before playing in the WCC tournament as the No. 2 seed in Las Vegas next week.

The Gaels will go in at full strength after suffering a brief scare midway through the second half. Joe Rahon, the team's emotional leader and workhorse in the backcourt, limped off the court with an apparent knee injury and was taken into a tunnel to be examined. He returned to the court a few minutes later wearing tape around his right leg below the knee. He then later got his entire knee wrapped.

Saint Mary's led by as many as 20 in the second half despite coming out of halftime missing six of seven shots with two turnovers.

Landale, as he has much of the season, got the Gaels back on track with a short hook over Henrik Jadersten to start a 10-0 run. Landale later scored on consecutive trips down the floor to push Saint Mary's lead to 66-47.

Jared Brownridge and Matt Hauser scored 15 points apiece for Santa Clara. The Broncos (16-15, 10-8 WCC) lost for only the second time in the last five games.

The Gaels led nearly the entire way.

Saint Mary's came out strong from the perimeter, making five of seven shots beyond the arc in the first half. Naar had two of the 3s and was one of six Gaels players to score as part of an 11-2 run that pushed their lead to 41-29 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Santa Clara: Another tough night for the Broncos, who couldn't get much going despite Saint Mary's going through a pair of lulls on offense. Brownridge scored nine of his team's first 11 points, a pattern that played out much of the game. Jadersten gave Santa Clara an early lift with two 3s but picked up three fouls over a span of 1:41 minutes during the first half.

Saint Mary's: With four straight wins the Gaels have regained some of the momentum they lost after falling to No. 1 Gonzaga on Feb. 11 for the second time this season. A third showdown between the conference's two best teams appears likely.

UP NEXT

Santa Clara: The Broncos are the fourth seed for the WCC tournament and will have a bye in the first round.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels also receive a first-round bye and won't play until March 4.

Stanford falls short, can't complete upset against Oregon

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Stanford falls short, can't complete upset against Oregon

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STANFORD -- Oregon survived its Bay Area trip by the slimmest of margins.

Jordan Bell scored on a putback with 14 seconds left to give the sixth-ranked Ducks their second straight nail-biting victory in a rare Bay Area sweep as Oregon beat Stanford 75-73 on Saturday.

"It stresses Coach out," guard Dylan Ennis said. "It shows us that we can just get gritty, get down and get the win. ... Hopefully if we're down like that again we can fight back and do the same thing."

Bell's game-winner followed Dillon Brooks' last-second, tiebreaking 3-pointer three nights earlier at California to give Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) its second sweep of its conference Bay Area rivals since 1976. The other came two years ago.

Tyler Dorsey scored 15 points to lead Oregon, while Brooks added 14.

"It's been a tough road trip for us, two close games," coach Dana Altman said. "That's life on the road. We found a way."

Reid Travis had 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way for the Cardinal (14-14, 6-10), but committed a turnover on the final possession to end any comeback hopes on senior day that honored Christian Sanders, Marcus Allen and Grant Verhoeven.

"There's a little extra when you see guys like Christian, Marcus and Grant shedding tears when they're getting called up," Travis said. "It's the last time they get to compete on this court. ... Just looking at that, there's no choice but to be motivated."

Stanford trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half but battled back to tie the game five times in the second half. But it took until that fifth equalizer for the Cardinal to take their first lead since being up 9-8 early in the first half.

Travis' jumper in the lane made it 71-69 with less than 3 minutes left but the lead was short-lived as Brooks hit a jumper at the other end to tie it.

The game was tied at 73 when the Ducks managed four offensive rebounds on one possession before finally converting on Bell's shot with 14 seconds left. It capped a wild sequence that started when Ennis shot an airball on a 3-pointer. Payton Pritchard caught the ball in the air and shot it to the rim before the shot clock expired. Bell was there to put back the second miss for the game-winner.

"It was going so fast I don't even know what happened," Altman said.

Travis lost the ball in the paint at the other end to seal the victory for Oregon.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks capped a 7-1 February with just their second road sweep of the conference season as they peaking at the right time of year. Their only loss in that span came on a late 3-pointer by Lonzo Ball in an 82-79 loss at UCLA. Oregon has one more road game left to finish the regular season at last-place Oregon State, and remains in contention for a Pac-12 title and a top two seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

Stanford: The Cardinal were unable to follow up home wins against California and Oregon State when faced by tougher competition from the Ducks. That has been an issue all season for Stanford, which fell to 0-8 against ranked opponents.

THEY SAID IT

"Something hit my elbow. It might have been the wind, but I don't shoot airballs on game-winners." - Ennis.

POUND THE BOARDS

Oregon had just eight rebounds for the entire first half before getting the four offensive boards on the final possession of the game. The Ducks were outrebounded 37-25 for the game but were outscored by only four points on second-chance opportunities.

CEREMONIAL DAY

Stanford also held a halftime ceremony for former coach Mike Montgomery, who was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this past November. Montgomery is the winningest coach in school history with 393 of his 677 wins coming for the Cardinal.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Visits Oregon State on Saturday.

Stanford: Visits Colorado on Thursday.