California 77, Stanford 71
Jorge Gutierrez saw a simple theme in California’s three
straight awful halves of basketball against Stanford over the past
five days. The Golden Bears were so concerned about their
postseason destination that they had forgotten to enjoy the
So Cal’s senior leader put on a second-half performance that was
a joy to watch, and he drove the Bears forward in the Pac-12
tournament in the process.
Gutierrez scored 19 of his 22 points after halftime, Harper Kamp
added 17 points, and Cal avenged last weekend’s loss to Stanford
with a 77-71 victory in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
Justin Cobbs scored 15 points while playing strong defense on
Stanford freshman sensation Chasson Randle for the second-seeded
Bears (24-8), who won their rubber match with their Bay Area
nemesis. Stanford beat Cal 75-70 at Maples Pavilion last Sunday,
preventing the Bears from winning a share of the Pac-12
When the Bears committed 14 turnovers in the first half and fell
behind 30-23 at Staples Center, Gutierrez – the Pac-12’s player of
the year and its top defensive player – knew what needed to
”For us, this is a new season, and I think we kind of forgot
this is supposed to be fun,” Gutierrez said.
The second half was a blast for the high-energy guard, who made
6 of 8 shots after halftime. He finished with seven assists and six
rebounds for the Bears, who made a 15-3 run to open the second half
and never trailed again.
”That’s the kind of play we expect from Jorge, and it’s not
surprising,” Kamp said. ”He’s been doing that all year – the last
few years, really.”
After stumbling into the postseason with its first consecutive
losses of the year to Colorado and Stanford, Cal must win the
tournament to breathe easily about its NCAA fate. After top-seeded
Washington’s stunning loss to ninth-seeded Oregon State six hours
earlier, the Bears became the highest seed remaining in Los
”We really needed this win, there’s no question,” said Cal
coach Mike Montgomery, who improved to 6-3 with Cal against
Stanford, where he spent 18 seasons. ”It gives us 24. It gets us
to the semis. Losing three (straight) at the end of the year would
not be a good resume-builder for the next tournament.”
Andrew Zimmermann had a career-high 22 points and seven rebounds
for the seventh-seeded Cardinal (21-11), who couldn’t respond to
Cal’s second-half rally in the rivals’ rubber match after each
school won on its home floor during the regular season.
”We were right there,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. ”I
thought they made some plays at the end. Their seniors especially
just really willed them down the stretch.”
Randle scored 19 points for the Cardinal, but went 5 for 16 –
just 2 of 9 on 3-pointers. The freshman dropped 27 of his 30 points
on Arizona State in the first half of the Cardinal’s opening-round
Cal didn’t appear to try anything fancy against Randle, who
scored 17 points against the Bears at Maples Pavilion last weekend.
Cobbs’ man-to-man coverage largely limited Randle’s looks and
harassed him into ineffectiveness.
”They did a great job,” Randle said. ”(Cobbs) did a good job
chasing me off screens, keeping me in front of him.”
Gutierrez said the Cal coaching staff asked him if he wanted to
guard Randle, but the senior thought Cobbs would do the best
Stanford had a seven-point lead at halftime despite just five
points from Randle. Cal, which committed just three turnovers after
halftime, went up 38-33 on Allen Crabbe’s 3-pointer 4 minutes into
the second half.
Cal maintained a narrow lead until Zimmermann’s putback layup
tied it at 60 with 6:06 to play. The Bears answered moments later
with an 8-0 run capped by Cobbs’ four straight free throws.
Cal led 73-64 on Gutierrez’s three-point play with 2:31 left,
but Randle finally awoke with five quick points. David Kravish drew
a key foul and hit two free throws with 40.7 seconds left, and the
Bears hung on.
Cal had won five of its previous six meetings with Stanford
before the Cardinal’s surprising victory last weekend. Gutierrez
even said he didn’t believe the matchup was a true rivalry, given
the Bears’ domination since Montgomery moved across the bay to
The teams’ mutual dislike surfaced repeatedly in the final
minutes, with several players posturing and treading on the edge of