Cardinal Crushes Bears to Complete Pac-10 Sweep

Photo: Talia Caldwell led the Bears with eight rebounds in their 24-point loss on Thursday. The sophomore center leads Cal with a whopping 8.2 rebounds per game this season.
Jonamir Ventura/File
Talia Caldwell led the Bears with eight rebounds in their 24-point loss on Thursday. The sophomore center leads Cal with a whopping 8.2 rebounds per game this season.

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Stanford's starting seniors Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen have never lost at Maples Pavilion.

They weren't about to lose in their final regular season home game.

The Cal women's basketball team put up a worthy fight on Thursday night, but were eventually overwhelmed by the No. 2 Cardinal, falling, 75-51.

Pedersen and Pohlen put the finishing touches on a perfect conference record. The duo combined for 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for Stanford (27-2, 18-0 in the Pac-10), which had already clinched the Pac-10 championship.

Cal (15-14, 7-11) actually kept the game close in the first half and was only down by five points at the break. The Bears were shooting 50 percent at the half.

The key to Cal's offensive success was the sweet stroke of Rachelle Federico. The senior guard was in the starting lineup for just the second time in her career (the first time was on Saturday against Oregon State), and she scored a career-high 16 points. The Tucson, Ariz., native was 2-for-5 from behind the arc and made 6-of-11 baskets.

She wasn't the only one hitting mid-range jumpers, though.

Pohlen did not miss her first shot until about eight minutes left in the game. The point guard nailed shot after shot from the free throw line.

While Pedersen and Pohlen were among the seniors honored after the game, junior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike put on a show as well. The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year capitalized on her return from an ankle injury that sidelined her for two games and limited her to 12 minutes on Saturday. She scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals against Cal.

Many probably expected a repeat of the teams' matchup on Jan. 2. In the Pac-10 opener, Stanford blew the Bears out of their own gym, winning by 33 points. But on Thursday, it was a much different story.

The game was surprisingly competitive until the Cardinal broke open the game with an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.

Although Cal was still lurking not too far behind, and still competing, the Bears could never mount a comeback in the second half, missing eight of their nine 3-point attempts after intermission.

Meanwhile, Stanford shot 51.8 percent as a whole and outrebounded Cal, 40-28. The Bears did not have enough offensive firepower to match the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion, where Stanford has not lost since February 2007.

Cal's leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth was held without a point. Stanford trapped the sophomore power forward whenever she got the ball and, like in the squads' first matchup, she did not make a field goal.

Nor did Cal have enough fuel. In the second half, the Cardinal would get easy layups after beating the Bears' press.

Things got sloppy, too. At one point near the end of the game, Cal center Talia Caldwell lost the ball, which went off her shoe, and teammate Rama N'diaye picked it up. N'diaye promptly missed the layup, which Caldwell failed to follow despite grabbing the board.

The Bears would have had to play a perfect game to break Stanford's now-61 game win streak at home. Cal will have to settle with the moral victory of a competitive first half.


Jonathan Kuperberg covers women's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]

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