Strong defense leads men’s basketball to victory over Cal

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Behind an aggressive effort, Stanford men’s basketball (10-6, 3-2 Pac-12) emerged victorious, beating California (12-6, 2-3 Pac-12) 77-71 in the first of two meetings with its rivals across the Bay.

Sophomore guard Dorian Pickens (right) was one of four Cardinal to score in double figures, notching 14 points in the Cardinal's 77-71 victory over Cal (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily).
Sophomore guard Dorian Pickens (right) was one of four Cardinal to score in double figures, notching 14 points in the Cardinal’s 77-71 victory over Cal. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily).

Stanford continued its recent exceptional defensive play, holding the Golden Bears to 41.7 percent shooting from the field. The Cardinal forced the Bears’ leading scorer, senior guard Tyrone Wallace, into difficult shots all night. Wallace finished 7-of-17 from the field for 17 points with only one free throw attempted in 38 minutes of play.

The Stanford offense was also rolling throughout the game, totaling 77 points on just 47 shots. Rosco Allen paced the Cardinal with his fourth double-double of the season, tallying 22 points and 10 boards. Allen was active from all over the floor, going 2-of-4 on three-point attempts and sinking eight of his nine free throws.

Though Stanford was down six with nine minutes left in the first half, it managed a 23-11 run behind aggressive drives and fast breaks to gain a six-point lead heading into the locker room. Freshman Marcus Sheffield had another impressive outing and played key minutes down the stretch. His fearless drives to the basket kept the Cal defense in disarray and provided plenty of holes for Allen and sophomore Dorian Pickens to be effective. Cal remained within striking distance for all of the second half thanks to some timely threes from the trio of Wallace, Jabari Bird and Jordan Matthews. The Golden Bears made 12 of their 30 three-point attempts (40 percent) and kept the lead under six as they looked to make a late push to steal the game from the Cardinal. Stanford had an answer for every Cal basket in the closing 10 minutes, thanks to the tremendous play of Allen. The senior nailed both of his threes and commanded a double-team on several possessions in that span. “I went into halftime and coach Dawkins pulled me to the side and he just kept me confident,” Allen said. “He said, ‘You can attack these guys. You can get by them on your first step.’ And I listened to him.”

The game came down to the finishing seconds. Down three with 28 seconds left, Cal had possession of the ball on the sideline. The Stanford defense, however, stood strong as it had all night and forced a five-second violation. Marcus Allen returned to the line, hitting the last four of his 16 free throws on the night and ensuring that the Golden Bears were not within one possession again.

“Marcus was really good for us down the stretch getting to the free throw line,” Dawkins said. “He’s growing right before our eyes. I thought during that six-minute stretch, Marcus was outstanding.”

The two teams will meet once again on Feb. 6.

Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Irving Rodriguez is a beat reporter for men's soccer and basketball. He was born in Mexico, but has lived in Chicago since second grade. He is all too willing to skip homework in order to watch the Chicago Bulls and Manchester United and will defend Derrick Rose until the very end. He likes to write about soccer, basketball and analytics. Irving is a senior majoring in Physics. To contact him, please email irodriguez 'at' stanford.edu.