STANFORD — Stanford nearly let a 30-point lead slip away. California almost pulled off a monumental comeback against its biggest rival with a furious late-game rally.
Chiney Ogwumike had 23 points and 12 rebounds and No. 4 Stanford held off a late charge by 21st-ranked California for a 70-64 win Thursday night in the first of two meetings between the rivals over a four-day span.
“We played really well for, I want to say, about 30 minutes out of 40 but the games are 40 minutes long,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “The end of the game had to get everyone's attention on our team and we need to get ready on Sunday against them again.”
Karlie Samuelson came off the bench to score 12 of her 14 points in the first half for Stanford (20-1, 9-0 Pac-12), including a baseline 3 to beat the halftime buzzer. The Cardinal led by 30 with 13:35 to go before the Golden Bears fought back to make things interesting in the closing moments.
Brittany Boyd led Cal (14-6, 6-3) with 25 points and Afure Jemerigbe added 18 just more than a year after the Bears won 67-55 on Stanford's home floor on Jan. 13, 2013, to split the season series and help them grab a share of the Pac-12 crown with the Cardinal. That also snapped an 81-game home winning streak for Stanford at Maples Pavilion against conference opponents.
“It was in the huddles, we were still motivated,” Boyd said. “One thing about this team, we have heart — even if we're down 50 we're not going to give up. Everybody added something different.”
Jemerigbe's 3-pointer with 17 seconds left pulled Cal to 69-64.
The Cardinal ran their winning streak to 19 straight since a Nov. 11 loss at No. 1 Connecticut, and they had won their first eight conference games by an average of 25 points.
Once Ogwumike got warmed up, she dominated in the paint on both ends of the court. She shot 9 for 19 while facing physical defense. Mikaela Ruef added 12 rebounds and Taylor Greenfield 10 points.