By Matthew Harrington
The Stanford Cardinal’s greatest strength proved to be its greatest weakness in a Thursday evening 69-62 loss to rivals University of California Berkeley. Stanford’s starters, who produce one of the best totals in the nation of 66.9 points per game, provided all of the scoring for the Cardinal (9-4) in the defeat to open up Pac-12 play with a loss to their cross-bay foes Cal (10-4).
The Cardinal starting five once against consisted of Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown at the guard positions and Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic in the frontcourt, the 13th straight time coach Johnny Dawkins penciled in this starting unit. Powell, the only player in white to make more than half of the baskets he attempted, paced the Cardinal with 16 points before fouling out in the second half. Randle (15) and Brown (14) finished right behind the forward in points on a night where the bench provided no support.
Golden Bears guard Tyrone Wallace dropped a game-high 20 points on 6 of 13 from the field, including four three-pointers, while forward Richard Solomon (14) and Justin Cobb (18) also cracked double-digits for the victors. Cal made 42.1 percent of field goals to Stanford’s 41.4, with Berkeley narrowly out-rebounding the Cardinal 37-35.
The Cardinal raced out to an early eight-point, 12-4 lead on a pair of Anthony Brown free throws 3:45 in but the Golden Bears clawed back, outscoring Stanford 17-6 over the next four minutes. Cal ultimately took the lead after Richard Solomon nailed two free throws to give the visitors a 19-18 lead 7:45 into play. They would go on to outscore Stanford 18-13 for the remainder of the first half to boast a 37-31 lead at the half.
Cal continued distancing itself from the Cardinal, allowing consecutive Stanford baskets only once in the opening ten minutes of the second frame for a 51-45 lead. Stanford responded with a 10-3 run for its first lead in over 26:34 of game time when Randle nailed a jumper with just under six minutes to play. Dwight Powell chipped in a free throw with 5:17 remaining to give Stanford its biggest lead of the half 56-54.
With Stanford’s Nastic and Powell watching from the bench after each fouling out in the closing minutes, the Golden Bears outscored their hosts 13-6, including an unanswered eight points just after Stanford wrestled the Cal lead away. A Justin Cobb jumper, 2 of the guard’s 11 second-half points, iced the game 67-62 with 25 seconds left. Randle lost the handle on a dribble while taking the ball down court on the next play, turning the ball over to the Golden Bears with 22 seconds on the clock. Cobb then added a pair from the charity stripe to close out the game.
For Stanford, the loss against Cal at Maples Pavilion is its first since March of 2010. The Cardinal entered play amidst a stretch that saw it dominate Berkeley at home with 18 wins in the previous 20 contests in Palo Alto. Stanford will have a chance to bounce back in Pac-12 when they square off against Oregon State in Corvallis on January 9th before a trip to Eugene to face no. 10 Oregon January 12.