BERKELEY, Calif. -- Stanford spoiled archrival California’s Pac-12 title hopes and swept the Golden Bears for the first time since 2008 with a 83-70 win on Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 11,877 at Haas Pavilion.
Chasson Randle had 20 points and four assists, and Josh Huestis added 18 points to lift the Cardinal (18-13, 9-9 Pac-12) in the teams’ regular-season finale.
“We were just going into this as a rivalry game,” said Randle, who finished 7 of 10 from the floor and 4 of 5 from three-point range. “We just came into the game focused and that was it. We know they’re a tough team and we wanted to prove we were tough also. I think we did that tonight.”
The upset put an end to Cal’s seven-game winning streak, and for the moment, pulled the Bears out of striking distance from conference leader Oregon.
Stanford sprinted out to a 34-31 first-half lead and would never relinquish it even though the Cardinal attack wasn’t necessarily clicking on all cylinders. Dwight Powell, who led Stanford to a 69-59 triumph over the Bears in their first engagement two months ago, was held to a single basket in the first 20 minutes and 11 points overall.
But Huestis shouldered the offensive load for the Cardinal on the frontline, and the versatile forward had an answer for every Cal run—even draining a crucial 3 midway through the second half as the Bears were beginning to gain momentum.
“They got a lot of real good scorers, a lot of weapons,” Huestis said. “We knew they were going to drive on us. We knew Crabbe was going to take his shots, but we locked up. We worked really hard [on defense] and I think that frustrated them.”
A bench-clearing fracas broke out between the two teams with under 5 minutes left after Stanford’s Aaron Bright and Cal’s Allen Crabbe battled for a loose ball. Players from both sides got involved, and their respective coaching staffs intervened before the situation escalated.
Ultimately, three players on each team were assessed technical fouls, with Cal assistant Gregg Gottlieb and all of the Stanford assistant coaches but one getting ejected.
“Both teams were playing hard and emotions were running high,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “It’s a rivalry game. There was a lot on the line for both teams. I don’t think anyone was doing anything flagrant or below the belt.”
The tussle was the culmination of a busy night for the officiating crew, who also dealt Cal’s Brandon Smith an intentional foul and the Bears a rare team technical foul as well.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery had a different account of the incident between Bright, who poured in 16 points, and Crabbe.
“Bright went on the floor and Allen tried to get a jump ball, which is what he should’ve done,” Montgomery said. “At that point, someone initiated something. You know what happened. It was uncalled for, and set the whole thing off. Everyone got hot and bothered, and the end result as three technical fouls on us and three technical fouls on them.”
Crabbe, the Pac-12’s leading scorer, scored 24 points for Cal (20-10, 12-6). His backcourt running mate, Justin Cobbs, also chipped in 24 points and collected 6 assists. But he turned the ball over 8 times, and the Cardinal capitalized on those mistakes. As a unit, Stanford scored 19 points off the Bears’ 14 giveaways.
“It’s just my fault,” Cobbs said. “It’s hard to win when making turnovers. I take a lot of the blame.”
In addition, the Cal supporting cast, which has buoyed the Bears during their winning streak, only accounted for 22 total points. Freshman Tyrone Wallace, who scored a career-high 16 points last week against Colorado, was held to just 2 against Stanford. The Bears didn’t help their cause from three-point range, either, sinking just 3 of 12.
“We just didn’t come prepared to play the way we should’ve played tonight,” Crabbe said. “They made shots and made plays. It seemed like everything was going in for them tonight.”
During their seven-game unbeaten streak, Cal had held each one of their opponents under 70 points. Stanford’s 83 points were the highest total the Bears conceded all year; the Cardinal went 26 of 30 at the free throw line and 9 of 17 from behind the arc.
“From our perspective, we made a lot of defensive mistakes that allowed them open shots,” Montgomery said. “We really tried to focus on defending the three-point line, and we didn’t. Each time we made a mistake, we paid a price for it, and when they make shots, they’re good.”
Stanford is guaranteed its second consecutive winning season under Dawkins, but barring the Cardinal capturing the Pac-12 tournament title next week, the team will likely be headed to the NIT to defend last year’s tournament trophy.
Meanwhile, the Bears had not lost in over a month before Wednesday and were already assured of a postseason berth; the question is where they will land. With four victories over currently ranked teams and 20 wins overall, Cal has a strong case for an NCAA tournament berth. However, an early exit in the Pac-12 tournament might push the Bears back on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
“We got our work cut out,” Montgomery said. “We’re never out of the woods if you look at this conference…You’re looking at teams in spots that are capable of beating you on any given night. We’ve got work to do. There’s nothing guaranteed with this team.”
“We can’t do nothing about it,” Crabbe added. “It’s over with. We just have to get prepared for the next one and get things back on track.”
Wednesday’s Cal-Stanford game marked the third in four years with conference title implications for the Bears. In 2010, Cal outlasted Stanford 71-61 in Maples Pavilion to earn the outright Pac-10 regular-season title. Last year, the Cardinal beat the Bears 75-70 at the same site to deny Cal a Pac-12 co-championship, which went to Washington…Dating back to the 1913-14 season, California now owns a 145-117 edge in the all-time series, including six wins in the last 10 meetings…Powell and Huestis notched double figures in points, but not in rebounds. The Cardinal duo was attempting to reach 10 double-doubles apiece for the season…Cal seniors Bak Bak, Brandon Smith, and Robert Thurman were honored before the game...Stanford senior Gabriel Harris, who contributed a career-high 14 points and 7 rebounds against Utah, was among the three Cardinal players ejected…Ricky Kreklow saw his first action for Cal since Jan. 3 against UCLA. He had 2 rebounds, an assist, and a steal…Officials were Mike Scyphers, Tony Padilla, and Tommy Nunez.
Ryan Maquiñana covers boxing and college sports for CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.