STANFORD Stanford's defense and its bench made the difference Saturday in a sometimes unsightly 69-59 win over Cal at Maples Pavilion.
With an announced 5,877 fans looking on, the Cardinal (11-7, 2-3 Pacific-12 Conference) frustrated the Bears' top two players, and John Gage led the way as Stanford's reserves outscored their counterparts 26-3.
Gage, a 6-foot-10 junior forward, scored a career-high 14 points, including 4 for 4 from three-point range.
"It was a tremendous lift," said Dwight Powell, who led the Cardinal with 17 points and had nine rebounds. "We just feed off his energy. It's good for the whole team."
Just as critical was Stanford's defensive effort on Pac-12 scoring leader Allen Crabbe and backcourt mate Justin Cobbs, who were a combined 1 for 11 in the first half. Stanford led 37-29 at the break and Cal (10-7, 2-3) never regained the lead.
Stanford shadowed Crabbe with Andy Brown, who has overcome three ACL surgeries on his left knee, then gave him help every time the Cal star tried to get free.
"I come off a screen and the guy's right there waiting for me. They're trying to take everything away from me," Crabbe said. "Just like every other team, they try to find ways to get me frustrated."
Crabbe scored 14 points, but his season scoring average (19.8) dipped below 20 points for the first time this season. Cobbs missed his first seven shots and finished with 13 points.