The intense women’s basketball rivalry Stanford had with Cal a few years returned Saturday, and it figures to stay intense for the forseeable future. The Cardinal extended its impressive streaks, but barely as Cal nearly pulled off a program-changing upset.
Cal overcame a nine-point deficit with 2:27 left in regulation to send the game into overtime, and the Bears’ Layshia Clarendon missed two three-point shots in the final 10 seconds of overtime that would have tied it, allowing the No. 4 Cardinal to escape with a 74-71 overtime victory at Stanford.
The win extneded the Cardinal’s winning streak in conference games to 66 in a row, and Stanford (18-1, 9-0) has now won 74 straight home games, but Stanford has to consider itself fortunate to have those streaks alive today.
The Golden Bears were the last conference team to beat the Cardinal, turning the trick in January 2009. They were also the last conference team to beat Stanford at Maples Pavilion, winning at Stanford in February 2007. And they nearly ended the streaks Saturday.
The Golden Bears (15-6, 6-3) came into the game riding a six-game winning streak, and they have clearly improved as the season has progressed under first-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. And much of Cal’s success on Saturday centered around the fact that it was able to contain Stanford All-American Nneka Ogwumike. She had only 12 points on 6-for-18 shooting, and she did not score a single point in the final 12 minutes of regulation and the entire overtime period.
The only time this season Ogwumike scorer fewer points was in the blowout of Cal State Bakersfield when she played only 13 minutes and collected eight points. Ogwumike played 43 minutes against Cal but could never get untracked.
The Cardinal’s savior turned out to be Nneka’s sister, Chiney, who had a career-high 27 points and 18 rebounds, and she hit a free throw with 1:05 left in overtime to give the Cardinal a one-point lead — a lead the Cardinal never lost. Clarendon missed a jumper on Cal’s ensuing possession, and Toni Kokenis made a pair of free throws with 33 seconds to go to make it a 74-71 game.
Clarendon then missed her two three-point shots. Clarendon wound up with 17 points, while freshman teammate Brittany Boyd had 19.
Kokenis had 18 for the Cardinal, although she was 6-for-15 from the field, as the Cardinal shot just 36.5 percent from the field as a team.
Freshman Bonnie Samuelson was 2-for-2 on three-pointers for Stanford, but the rest of the team was 1-for-18 from beyond the arc, again demonstrating the Cardinal’s vulnerabilty on the perimeter. Cal was not much better, hitting just 4 of 16 three-point attempts.
(See the boxscore here.)
The Cardinal led through most of the game and throughout the second half, but every time the Cardinal seemed on the verge of putting the game away, Cal surged back. The Cardinal led by 13 with less than 11 minutes and still held a 69-60 lead when Chiney Ogwumike made a pair of free throws with 2:27 left.
But the Cardinal failed to score again in regulation, missing all five of its field goal attempts and its only free throw while committing two turnovers.
A three-pointer by Clarendon got the margin down to two with 36 seconds left, and she made two foul shots at the 27-second mark to tie it. Nneka Ogwumike and Kokenis missed shots in the final six seconds to send it into overtime.
Chiney Ogwumike put Stanford ahead with a bucket early in the overtime, and Clarendon tied it at 71-71 with 1:27 to go. Chiney Ogwumike hit the second of two foul shots with 1:05 left to put the Cardinal ahead to stay.
Despite staying close and nearly pulling off the upset, Cal never led in the game after Stanford tied it at 9-9 less than five minutes into the first half.
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