No. 6 California 58, Oregon St. 56

California coach Lindsay Gottlieb had a simple plan once her
team fell behind by 17 points against Oregon State. Get the ball to
Layshia Clarendon.

Clarendon scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half and the
sixth-ranked Golden Bears rallied to beat the Beavers 58-56 on
Sunday, extending the longest winning streak in school history.

”I rode Layshia like this was her senior year in high school
and I was going to have her (take) 50 shots,” said Gottlieb after
Cal’s biggest comeback of the season. ”The coaches on the bench
were literally in my ear, `Every single thing we have, run it to
Layshia.’ We obviously made a conscious decision to go through
her.”

It couldn’t have worked out any better for the Bears, who were
on the verge of losing for the first time in nearly seven weeks
before Clarendon bailed them out.

Playing in her final home game, Clarendon scored eight straight
points during one stretch in the second half after Brittany Boyd
had given the Bears a spark. Clarendon, who went 10 of 22 from the
floor, also had the assist on Gennifer Brandon’s go-ahead jumper
then made a critical 14-foot leaner before helping Cal (25-2, 15-1
Pac-12) hold on over a frantic final 3 minutes.

The Bears didn’t make another shot after Clarendon’s bucket but
held on for the win after being dominated for much of the game.

”I’m a little in shock still but we got the win,” said
Clarendon, who finished 10 of 22 from the floor. ”It felt good to
have our fans this loud. It was like back East … and I think it
affected them toward the end.”

California’s 13th straight win assured it of finishing no worse
than second place in the Pac-12 for the fourth time in six years,
though Gottlieb’s team is eyeing a bigger prize. The Bears have
never won the conference championship, something they can
accomplish with wins against Washington State and Washington next
weekend.

It wouldn’t be possible had Cal not turned things around in the
second half.

”I’m as proud of this win as any of them,” Gottlieb said. ”It
tested who we are. This team dug in and across the board said this
is not happening today.”

Oregon State pulled within 57-54 on Ali Gibson’s 3-pointer, and
after one free by Cal’s Talia Caldwell, Deven Hunter scored on a
putback to make it 58-56. The Beavers took only one shot after that
but ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley’s long jumper missed and Eliza Pierre
grabbed the rebound to secure the win Cal’s 14th consecutive win
over Oregon State.

”They were more aggressive and they were able to get to the
(free throw) line,” Beavers coach Scott Rueck said. ”That was the
difference in the game.”

Jamie Weisner had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Mollee
Schwegler added 15 points for Oregon State (9-19, 3-13). The
Beavers have lost seven conference games by five points or
fewer.

The Beavers, who start two freshmen and a sophomore, gave the
Bears fits in the first half and were positioned to beat a ranked
opponent for the first time since 2004 before unraveling in the
second half.

Cal had limited Oregon State to 14 points in the first half of
their first meeting earlier this season but it was a complete
turnaround in the rematch.

The Beavers built a 28-11 lead with just over three minutes left
behind the aggressive deep shooting by Weisner and Schwegler.
Weisner, the Pac-12’s leading 3-point shooter, made three 3s while
Schwegler added two from beyond the arc, including a one-hander
that banked in just before the shot clock went off.

Not much went right for the Bears.

They missed 13 of their first 16 shots, blew a breakway layup
and let a defensive rebound slip away for a turnover against a team
Cal beat by 22 on Feb. 1.

Brandon helped the Bears briefly stop the slide with three free
throws over the final 2:44 while Pierre drove through traffic and
flipped the ball off the backboard to help cut Oregon State’s lead
to 30-18 at the break.

Boyd, who was held out of Friday’s win over Oregon with a
strained groin, helped jumpstart the Bears in the second half.

She scored Cal’s first basket of the second half on a breakaway
layup then had four points, two steals and an assist during a 6-0
run that pulled the Bears within 36-31 with 15:16 remaining.

Weisner ended the burst with a three-point play and Oregon State
later extended its lead to 10 before Clarendon took over.

Brandon finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, her 29th career
double-double, while Boyd had nine points and six assists.