Feb. 15, 2009

Courtesy Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford isn't ready to give up the Pac-10 title just yet.

The Cardinal (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP), winners of eight consecutive conference titles, made sure they'll have a shot at a ninth with an impressive 58-41 win against No. 3 California on Saturday.

Stanford ended the Golden Bears' 12-game win streak and left the Bay Area rivals tied for first place in the conference.

"Tonight we were like, 'If you're going to do it, you're going to have to be consistent to have what we have,'" Stanford guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwunde said. "I think we made our statement."

Jayne Appel scored 22 points and had 14 rebounds, Jillian Harmon added 18 points and Stanford rolled to its seventh straight win, overcoming its lowest scoring half of the season.

Appel scored five points in the first half when Stanford (20-4, 11-1) was held to 18.

But the junior center went 5-for-7 from the field in the second half, allowing Stanford to avoid being swept by Cal for the first time since 1985-86.

"It was a battle, like a heavyweight fight," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We started running a little bit, we hit some nice outside shots and we went into Jayne really well in the second half."

Ashley Walker and Laura Greif scored 10 points apiece for the Bears (20-3, 11-1), who had not lost since falling to Oklahoma 86-75 on Dec. 13. Cal's streak was the fifth-longest in the country.

Cal was in control early and was 20 minutes away from taking a two-game lead in the conference before Stanford stormed back with second-half runs of 13-5 and 19-0. The Cardinal held the Bears without a field goal for more than 11 minutes.

Appel was a big reason for that.

Matched against former Pac-10 player of the year Devanei Hampton most of the night, Appel went 7-for-10 from the floor and had her 10th double-double of the season. She also played solid defensively, limiting Hampton to seven points.

Appel's short layup with 4:54 remaining capped a 19-0 run and she later scored on a three-point play to give Stanford a 53-35 lead.

"We just knew we had to stick in there," Appel said. "Even if we're down we're still going to be giving our all and playing as hard as we can."

Gold-Onwude also came up big, helping hold Cal guard Alexis Gray-Lawson to four points. Gray-Lawson had a career-high 37 points in the Bears' 57-54 win over Stanford earlier this season but went 1-for-4 from the floor in the rematch.

The game was stopped late in the second half after Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen and Cal's Natasha Vital collided heads. Pohlen suffered a big gash on her forehead and had to be helped off the court while Vital remained on the floor for several moments before also being taken off.

The Cardinal has won at least 20 games in eight consecutive seasons under VanDerveer. The Cardinal has also won 23 straight regular-season games at Maples Pavilion, the last loss coming against the Bears on Feb. 4, 2007. Overall, the Cardinal has won 25 straight at home, including a pair of NCAA Tournament victories last season.

Cal didn't have much chance once Stanford got rolling.

It also didn't help that the Bears lost Walker to foul trouble early in the second half. The Pac-10's leading scorer, who struggled with her shot, picked up her second and third fouls in a 23-second span. Shortly after Walker was hit with her third, Gray-Lawson was also called for her third and joined Walker on the bench.

Cal held a 30-22 lead at the time but struggled to score without Walker and Gray-Lawson. When they both checked back in three minutes later, the Bears' lead had been trimmed to one.

Walker finished 5-for-16 from the floor.

Stanford's rally didn't stop there, however, and Cal never recovered.

"We had a real lack of focus from that 14-minute mark on and that's not something I've seen from my team this year," Bears coach Joanne Boyle said. "You have to always feel like you have to go take something from somebody, no one's ever going to give it to you. And to think that you can take it in 25 minutes, it's not going to happen against a great team."

The Bears took advantage of the Cardinal's first-half shooting slump.

Walker scored six points as part of a 14-5 run that erased a five-point deficit and gave Cal its first lead, 18-14.

Stanford, which had won six straight since losing to Cal in Berkeley on Jan. 18, went cold offensively about the same time. The Cardinal went more than 8½ minutes with one basket and scored seven points over the final 11 minutes.

Hampton and Greif closed out the first half with consecutive baskets, giving Cal a 22-18 halftime lead.