Heading into their first clash of the season, the Stanford men’s basketball team’s most apparent advantage against Cal was on the boards.
But it was Cal, specifically its guards, that won the rebounding battle Sunday night.
Cal guards Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe went toe-to-toe with arguably the Pac-12 Conference’s best rebounding team, and the backcourt pair outrebounded Stanford’s starting frontcourt all by themselves in a 69-59 Cal win at a sold-out Haas Pavilion.
Gutierrez had a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with 11 points, and Crabbe scored a game-high 18 points and took in seven boards.
“The ball wasn’t going in for me, so I wanted to do something else to help the team,” Gutierrez said of his rebounding effort. “Rebounds were very important to us.”
Led by Gutierrez and Crabbe, the Bears (17-5, 7-2) outrebounded the Cardinal 41-31.
“Jorge was critical in getting 12 rebounds on the defensive glass,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “[Robert Thurman is] a big guy and he gets his hands on some balls. David [Kravish] got his hands on some balls. When you outrebound them, that’s pretty incredible.”
Stanford (15-6, 5-4) made every effort to attack the paint, but found its best success with sophomore forward Dwight Powell and redshirt freshman center Stefan Nastic.
Both finished tied for the team lead with 11 points, but Powell was in foul trouble throughout and only played 15 minutes, while Nastic came off the bench for a career-high in scoring, but only had one rebound.
“Rebounding wraps into a lot of things, definitely toughness and something that we know we are, but we didn’t show it tonight as much as we could,” Nastic said.
Stanford senior forward Josh Owens, who came into the game leading the Cardinal in scoring, was held to nine points.
The Cardinal held a 41-40 lead with 12:05 remaining, but Cal took back the lead on a jump shot from Justin Cobbs 17 seconds later and pulled away steadily in the final 10 minutes.
“They had second-chance opportunities and were rebounding the basketball,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “It was a three-point game down the stretch and then just rebounding the basketball hurt us.”
The Bears struggled at times in their halfcourt set, but were at their best in transition, fueled by their guards pushing the ball up the court off Stanford misses and turnovers.
“We kind of went to stuff that we have, but that we don’t run that much,” Montgomery said.
The win puts the Bears back into a first-place tie in the Pac-12 after a day out of the top spot, due to Washington’s win over Arizona on Saturday. The win gives Cal a 15-0 record at home this season and their fourth straight home
victory over the Cardinal.
“Personally, I don’t think it is a rivalry,” Gutierrez said. “Whoever is on top is our rival. We want to end up in first.”