Stanford Cardinal Friday game wrap: Cardinal picks apart sloppy Golden Bears 73-68

February 17, 2017

Cal Bears, NCAA

Stanford guard Dorian Pickens, right, celebrates with Grant Verhoeven (30) after scoring a 3-point shot against California during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in Stanford, Calif. Stanford won 73-68. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

By Jeremy Harness

STANFORD – After Dorian Pickens nailed a 3-pointer at the 7:45 mark of the second half that gave Stanford a commanding lead over rival Cal, Stanford coach Jerod Haase was so fired up that he did a jump-bump with Pickens as well as guard Robert Cartwright.

That could be a sign of better days on the horizon for the Cardinal basketball team, which has fallen on hard times since their surprising run in the NCAA Tournament in 2014, as it pulled off a surprising 73-68 win over the Golden Bears Friday night at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford continually attacked the basket on offense, which led to a huge disparity in foul shots that went to its advantage. Stanford was 29-for-40 from the line, while Cal only took 10 foul shots and made three of those. This strategy also got Cal’s big men into foul trouble, which would prove to be crucial down the stretch.

Pickens led the way for the Cardinal with 23 points, including 14 in the second half, as well as connecting on 10 of his 11 free throws while leading the Cardinal’s continuous charge to the basket.

The Cardinal (13-13, 5-0 Pac-12) also showed very active hands on defense, and combined with the sloppiness that the Golden Bears handled the ball Friday night, gave another key advantage – the turnover battle – to Stanford. While committing only 11 turnovers in the game, Stanford forced Cal into 20 of them.

In the early going, however, it appeared that Cal (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12) would roll, just as was the case in its victory over Stanford on Jan. 29. The Golden Bears jumped out to a 19-7 lead in the first nine minutes of the game, as Stanford had no answers for Cal’s length and athleticism.

The Golden Bears held a clear advantage in 3-point shooting, and Jabari Bird was at the center of that, particularly in the first half. He led Cal with 23 points on Friday and made five of his six 3-point shots in the opening 20 minutes. 

However, Stanford cut the lead to one with six minutes left in the half, when Dorian Pickens nailed a 3-pointer and then tied the game at the 4:45 mark on a turnaround baby hook by Reid Travis, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Marcus Allen’s fast-break dunk gave Stanford a 30-28 lead, and they went into the locker room with a 38-34 advantage, using a sizable edge in free-throw shooting and turnovers to get there.

The Golden Bears, however, made strides to change that to start the second half, as Ivan Rabb earned himself a spot at the free-throw line on Cal’s first possession. Cal eventually re-took the lead at the 16:44 mark, when Rabb converted an and-one. However, that was the last time Cal saw the lead.

Stanford continued to attack, however, and went on a 13-0 run to get out to a 10-point lead at the 11:33 mark. At that point, both teams had made the same amount of field goals, and Cal had a decided advantage in 3-point shooting, as they had made seven of their 16 field goals.

Another development was occurring, as center Kameron Rooks quickly got into foul trouble and picked up his fourth with 12:39 left, forcing him to go to the bench. He re-entered the game at the 10:37 mark, but he fouled out a mere 30 seconds later. Kingsley Okoroh also spent much of the second half in foul trouble, and he eventually fouled out with a little more than a minute remaining.

With Cal’s bigs saddled by fouls, that gave Stanford even more freedom to go to the basket, which it took advantage of throughout the game.

In an attempt to climb back into the game, Cal went to a full-court press, which Stanford broke with relative ease. The Bears did cut the lead to six at one point, but they continued to be sloppy with a basketball, and Stanford made them pay by extending its lead again and never let Cal get a foothold.

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