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January 14, 2006

Cal misses again at Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Stanford is finally starting to look like the winning team everybody thought the Cardinal would be. They're playing with energy for a full 40 minutes. They're outrebounding and outhustling opponents. They're getting a few breaks, too.

Chris Hernandez made all six of his field goals, including five 3-pointers on the way to 20 points, and Stanford won its third straight and sixth in a row over archrival California with a 75-61 victory Friday night.

"I thought we played as well as we've played all year to this date," Stanford head coach Trent Johnson said. "We were as consistent as we could be considering who we were up against. We're playing better. It's a good time to start doing it."

Matt Haryasz had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinal, who beat the Golden Bears in Maples Pavilion for the 13th consecutive time for their first three-game winning streak of the season. Stanford is above .500 for the first time in six weeks.

The biggest difference in the game was free-throw shooting -- Stanford shot 17-for-19, and Cal went a season-worst 11-of-24 from the line. Strangely, the last thing the Bears did in practice Thursday was shoot 30 free throws, and they made 28.

"When you shoot 11-for-24 from the free throw line, you're not brimming with confidence," said Cal head coach Ben Braun, whose team started the conference season with three straight wins but has lost its last two. "It was the first thing we talked about in the locker room after the game. It's a different game if we knock down and convert some free throws. We have nobody to blame, that's us."

Leon Powe had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Cal but shot 5-for-11 from the line. Ayinde Ubaka added 13 points, four assists and three rebounds, and Rod Benson scored a season-high 10 points to go with five boards.

The Bears (9-5 overall, 3-2 Pac-10) began the week tied for first place in the Pac-10 and were trying to win their first three conference road games for the first time since Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell led the Bears in 1957.

"I take the blame for it," Powe said of his team's poor performance at the line. "We had a good shot to beat them, but they outhustled us."

Haryasz scored eight of Stanford's first 10 points and six in a row and finished 9-for-14 from the floor. Taj Finger provided a big boost with hustle, scrappy defense and heads-up play for the Cardinal (7-6, 3-2).

Finger had six points, three rebounds, two blocks and an assist -- not to mention plenty of trips to the floor for loose balls.

"I watched a lot of film on Powe," Finger said. "I knew what he wanted to do. I wasn't in there to score 20 points. I went in there for defense and rebounding and to help the team win."

After Powe scored back-to-back baskets to pull Cal within 43-37 with 16:57 to play, Hernandez hit a long 3-pointer under pressure and with the shot clock about to expire. Powe answered with another basket and made his first four shots after halftime.

After another 3 by Hernandez, Cal went on a 10-4 spurt to get within 53-51 at 9:51. Stanford's Tim Morris stole the ball from Ubaka and had a four-on-one, but missed the layin. Dan Grunfeld got the rebound and was fouled, making both free throws. Then Powe got whistled for an offensive foul for pushing off on the other end and Stanford pulled away.

The Cardinal, picked to finish second in the Pac-10 after starting the season ranked No. 13, have won five of seven and six straight at Maples Pavilion, where a sellout crowd of 7,598 turned out for the Bay Area rivalry game -- 198 people over capacity.

"Obviously this is our best game so far," Haryasz said. "This is very encouraging for us."

Stanford's last home loss to Cal came during the 1992-93 season in Jason Kidd's freshman year in Berkeley.

The Bears, who opened conference play with victories at USC and UCLA, had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 72-64 home loss to Oregon State last Saturday. Cal began a three-game road trip that takes the Bears to Arizona State and Arizona next week before they return for seven of their final 11 games at Haas Pavilion.


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