The highly touted matchup between the Stanford and UC Berkeley women’s basketball teams, regarded as the “Battle of the Bay,” lived up to its title as both teams fought tirelessly from start to finish.
Neither team dominated the other until Stanford (14-1, 3-0 Pac-12) took charge in the remaining six minutes of play to capture the win over the rivaled Golden Bears (12-2, 2-1 Pac-12). In the past, Stanford has beaten Cal by an average of 19.2 points, but this game went down to the wire, with numerous ties and lead changes as both teams came out hungry for a win.
“This was a big game. Cal has a great team…really competitive,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Our team stepped up to the challenge and [sophomore guard] Amber [Orrange] did a good job of running our team and [junior forward] Chiney [Ogwumike] was on the other book end…but it was a great team effort.”
Liberal scoring by Cal’s starters and bench made it difficult for Stanford to pull ahead. The Stanford reserves contributed only one point, compared to 13 from Cal’s bench. The Bears offense was lead by senior guard Layshia Clarendon with 17 points and six rebounds. Ogwumike led the Card with 26 points and six rebounds.
Cal entered halftime with a point advantage after sophomore guard Brittney Boyd (nine points, nine rebounds) stripped Orrange (15 points, eight rebounds) with five seconds to play and finished with an easy lay up.
Both teams, however, came out strong in the second half. The first five minutes of the half were dominated by run and gun basketball, which is not typically Stanford’s style of play, usually opting to play a more disciplined offense. Orrange did an excellent job, with the task of slowing the offense down and managing Cal’s defense.
With neither team shooting well, it really became a defensive game decided by rebounding and second chance opportunities. Stanford was outrebounded, but made the shots in the end that determined the final outcome. Since the three-point shots weren’t falling and the players weren’t able to get good, open looks, the Card took the ball hard to the basket and converted at the free-throw line.
Stanford matched Cal’s defensive tenacity towards the end of the game and created a faster-paced offense and defense to compensate for Berkeley’s run-and-gun style of play. With six minutes left, in Cal style, Stanford’s senior forward Joslyn Tinkle cherry-picked to the opposite end of the floor and finished with a huge lay up to push the Cardinal lead to 52-46, its largest lead of the game, forcing Berkeley to call a timeout.
The Card’s help-side defense and hedging on screens forced Cal into a desperation shot as the shot clock expired with under five minutes to play and Stanford was given an opportunity to capitalize on the offensive end.
As time ran out on Stanford’s own shot clock, the Card also pulled off an amazing desperation play with 4:30 left in the game. Tinkle in-bounded the ball cross court to Ogwumike who jumped up amidst three Cal defenders to finish at the basket with .1 seconds on the board to extend the lead to 54-46.
Ogwumike had an impressive game scoring, but struggled throughout on the boards. However, she did manage to grab crucial rebounds towards the end of the game when the put-backs mattered most.
With 1:30 to play, the score at 49-59, a clutch lay up by Tinkle, who hadn’t seen much success at the start of the game, scoring only two points in the first half, put Stanford ahead by ten and the senior finished with eight points and four rebounds.
A pair of free throws by Orrange and a block by Ogwumike on the other end then put the Card up by 12 and allowed it to confidently break the Cal press and seal the victory.
The leadership of Ogwumike, Tinkle and Orrange kept Stanford together and helped the team outmatch Berkeley in its own style of fast paced play, demonstrating the versatility of its offense and defense.
However, VanDerveer was not satisfied with this win and wants a more definitive victory against the Bears on Sunday. The Card was substantially outrebounded 45-31 for the first time since the Fresno State game. In addition, Stanford did not hit a three-point shot, the first time the Card has gone cold from downtown since March 2012.
“We tried to keep them off the boards and limit their easy baskets; not let them get run-outs even though they did a get a couple of those…junior guard] Toni [Kokenis] did a really good job on [Clarendon] and we took care of the ball. I wouldn’t say it was our A-game, but considering how much traveling we’ve done in the past two weeks, I’m proud of our team and how hard they played,” VanDerveer said. “This is just the first half and we turn around and play again on Sunday so let’s see if we can play better on Sunday and I think it’ll be better for both teams because we’ll be a little more rested.”
The Card faces the Cal Golden Bears for a re-match at Maples Pavilion at 1 p.m. on Sunday.