STANFORD The Pacific-12 Conference women's basketball race looked dramatically different Sunday after fifth-ranked Stanford's ungainly 67-55 loss to No. 7 Cal.
The Pac-12 no longer is the Cardinal's domain. Cal (13-2, 3-1) made sure of that before an announced crowd of 5,931 at Maples Pavilion with a resounding victory that ended Stanford's 81-game conference winning streak.
In the Cardinal's first home game since Connecticut ended its 82-game home winning streak last month, Stanford was not up to the challenge.
"They are extremely aggressive," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said of the Bears. "If there is one thing we're not, it is aggressive."
Cal used a suffocating defense and exceptional rebounding to hand Stanford (14-2, 3-1) a second consecutive home loss for the first time since 2001.
The Bears did it while shooting a season-low 29.7 percent from the field. The Cardinal shot 35.2 percent.
Point guard Brittany Boyd led Cal with 19 points as the rivals met for the second time in a week. Gennifer Brandon had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Bears.
The last time the Cardinal lost a conference game was 57-54 to Cal in 2009 in Berkeley.
"We beg and beg the Pac-12 to step up, so this is a good thing in a bad way for us," VanDerveer said.
The Bears looked determined after losing to Stanford 62-53 in Berkeley on Tuesday. Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb didn't shy away from that defeat. She brought her players popcorn and candy as they watched video of the game.
The review provided some serious food for thought.
"The take-away is if we can play at this level all the time, then you're talking elite," Gottlieb said.
In ending a 10-game losing streak to Stanford, Cal ushered in a new competitive spirit for the Pac-12.
This much is certain: The brittle Cardinal is far from invincible at home. Stanford hosts No. 14 UCLA on Friday and No. 23 Colorado on Jan. 27.
VanDerveer said some might wonder which team will show up on any given night because Stanford beat then-No. 1 Baylor and is undefeated on the road this season.
"In some ways, we overachieved early," she said, adding the success might have led some players to think they are better than they are.
"This is a character-building year," said Chiney Ogwumike, who led Stanford with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Although Ogwumike continues to prove she is one of the nation's marquee players, Stanford isn't giving her enough support to show it can win its 13th consecutive league title, much less advance to a sixth consecutive Final Four.
The Bears exposed weaknesses in the Cardinal's backcourt while forcing 16 turnovers.
Mikayla Lyles matched her career high with 14 points, all in the first half, to propel Cal to an eight-point lead.
While trailing 47-39, Stanford failed four times to close within six points and then paid for it. Layshia Clarendon sank a three-pointer, and Boyd made two free throws to widen the Bears' lead to 13 with 10:14 to play.
Cal had a rough start, missing its first nine shots, but Boyd didn't panic.
"The main thing we said was keep on punching, keep on fighting," she said.