STANFORD, CA- Last time Cal's men's basketball team took the court at Maples Pavilion, the Bears were sealing up sole possession of a Pac-10 title. Back in Maples and in its first game as defending conference champs, the Golden Bears just weren't able to defend well enough to get the win.
"It was not surprising to me," said senior Harper Kamp of Stanford's ability to exploit the Golden Bear defense. "I expect every team in this league to be able to come out and whoop you if you don't play hard."
Stanford scored 44 points in the second half on 72.2% shooting from the floor to beat archrival Cal 82-68. Jeremy Green lead the Cardinal with 21 points and Dwight Powell added 20 points off the bench.
"We just weren't playing hard defensively," Kamp explained after the game. "We've been a team that has prided ourselves on defense and we just didn't show up today."
"We can't give up 82 points and expect to win," said head coach Mike Montgomery.
Stanford used a pair of threes from Jack Trotter and Jeremy Green to come out to an early 9-6 lead in the first five minutes while Cal started out 2-7 from the field.
"Give credit to them, they did play well. I think their coaches did a great job of going to hot hands, mismatches, things like that. They did a good job at playing to their strengths."
Kamp would score six of Cal's next eight points, but the Bears were unable to lock down the Cardinal offense, allowing Green to hit two more threes and Cal found itself trailing Stanford 18-22 with 9:56 left in the first period.
"We tried to minimize Green," explained Montgomery. "I didn't think we did a very good job in the first half. Three of those were threes where we stood there and watched them shoot without getting a hand up like we didn't trust that he could shoot it."
Three point shots from freshmen Gary Franklin and Allen Crabbe got the Bears to within one with under six minutes left in the half.
Green immediately responded with another long ball and the Cardinal were able to find buckets from inside and distance throughout the remainder of the half.
Stanford led 38-34 at the break behind Green's 14 points and 4-of-4 shooting from three-point range.
"We actually were trying to deny him some and not let him get the ball and make others have to make plays," continued Montgomery on Green. "But he ended up getting 14 anyway, which didn't really make much sense."
Both teams looked sloppy coming into the second half. With five minutes in, each team had committed three fouls, half of which were offensive fouls, and Green's two free throws put the Cardinal ahead 46-37.
Soon after an ally-oop by Dwight Powell had the Cardinal 48-39 and Maples Pavilion crowd of 6,281 was making noise for the first time all evening.
"I just think it all stemmed from our inability to guard primarily their post guys at point of attack and that would be primarily Dwight Powell," said Montgomery.
The Bears scored four straight to pull within 43-49, but Cal made a number of fundamental errors, capped by Sanders-Frison technical foul, that kept Cal from getting even. Anthony Brown's three pointer and Josh Owens' short range shot following the technical gave Stanford a 56-43 lead, its largest of the game at the time.
"I would say turnovers on the break killed us," Franklin said after the game.
"They made some tough shots where we did a decent job at defending for thirty seconds and then bang they shot one in that took a little bit of steam out of us," said Montgomery.
A Gary Franklin three pointer cut it to 58-48 before Anthony Brown and Aaron Bright hit back to back shots from downtown to extend the Cardinal lead to 65-51 with 7:58 remaining in the game.
Powell played exceptionally in the second half, scoring 13 of his 20 on the night.
"He showed a lot of skill tonight," said Kamp after the game. "I didn't probably prepare for him specifically as hard as I should have and that's on me. He was able to just jump up and knock down some jumpers and they went to him. They just kept going to him and always at the elbow there. That's a tough guard."
"He's quick with the ball, he jumps and we weren't able to get physical with him, which is something he's not been great with," Montgomery said of Powell. "So he pretty much just took us and got where he wanted and he made some really good shots. I'm sure that's the best game he's had in college and it just so happens it was against us."
The Cardinal would lead by as much as 17 with five minutes to go until a pair of three pointers by Franklin and Kamp brought the Bears back to 71-60 with 4:15 left. Sanders-Frison's quick inside basket and Kamp's free throw closed the deficit to 72-63 with under three to play.
"I tried to shoot in the flow of the game," said Franklin. "My main goal tonight was to just be as aggressive as I can and play as well as I can with the minutes I would get."
After a missed Stanford jumper, the Bears had a chance to make things interesting, but Franklin rushed a three pointer an immediately fouled. Sanders soon after received his second technical of the evening and after sinking four free throws, Stanford got back to a comfortable 78-63 lead with under two minutes remaining.
"It looked a little bit like two young teams playing out there and their younger players played good," said Montgomery
Stanford shot 13-of-18 (72.2%) in the second half and went to the foul line 21 times in the final period after only going five in the first half. Cal committed 10 of its 16 turnovers in the second half, which resulted in 12 second-half Cardinal points off turnovers (18 for the game).