BERKELEY, Calif. (AP)—Stanford looks an awful lot like a postseason team again.
The Cardinal are sharing the ball, making good choices in crunch time and hitting big shots and clutch free throws.
And the 7-foot freshman Lopez twins have found their groove, too.
Fred Washington scored a season-high 21 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds, leading the 23rd-ranked Cardinal to a 90-71 victory over rival California on Saturday night.
“They’re playing with a lot more chemistry,” Cal’s Theo Robertson said. “They’re playing a lot more fluid. The first time around they were stagnant on offense. They had a lot more rhythm to their approach. Fred is their glue.”
The Cardinal avenged a four-point loss to the Golden Bears at Maples Pavilion last month, when Cal ended a 13-game losing streak on Stanford’s home floor.
Stanford (15-6, 7-3 Pac-10) salvaged a split out of the week after losing to six-time defending West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga 90-86 in double overtime Wednesday night in the Cardinal’s first regular-season game in the poll since ending the 2003-04 season ranked No. 1.
Brook Lopez, coming off a career-high 20 points against Gonzaga, had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Lawrence Hill scored seven straight points during one second-half stretch on the way to 24 points and also added seven rebounds and four assists.
Lopez’s twin, Robin, had five blocks for the Cardinal.
“We have some decent balance right now,” coach Trent Johnson said. “This is a team and we’re becoming more and more complete. We need all the parts working well together to be successful.”
Ayinde Ubaka had 17 points and seven assists—shooting just 5-for-13—for the Bears and is still regaining his strength from a stomach virus. He needed an IV during the game against USC on Jan. 27. Ubaka scored a season-high 26 points in the first meeting.
Jerome Randle scored 19 points and Robertson added 11 and five rebounds for the Golden Bears (12-10, 4-6), who faced a ranked team for the fourth straight game and lost a fourth in a row. and missed a shot at their first sweep of the season series since the 1992-93 season when Jason Kidd was a freshman for the Bears.
Freshman and leading scorer Ryan Anderson was held to 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
Cal had won two in a row against Stanford, but hasn’t taken three straight since getting five consecutive wins from 1985-87. Some fans in the sellout crowd of 11,877 at Haas Pavilion started making their way for the exits well before the final buzzer.
“They did a good job of sticking with what they do and when they didn’t get the look they wanted they got some offensive rebounds,” Robertson said. “I think we had a good game plan for guarding the big twins down low. … As the game wore on they were able to impose their will.”
Hill had his second straight big game, but came out on the winning end this time. He shot 10-for-13 with four 3-pointers after scoring 22 against the Zags. Stanford also converted 22 of 24 free throws, 8-for-8 by Anthony Goods, 7-of-9 for Washington and 6-of-6 by Taj Finger.
“Don’t tell anyone but that’s exceptional for us,” Johnson said of his team’s success at the line. “This was probably our best win on the road.”
Goods was whistled for a technical with 7:44 to go after tossing the ball behind him toward Cal’s Taylor Harrison. Ubaka’s two free throws made it a 10-point game at 59-49, but Hill quickly scored on the other end for Stanford— the first of his seven straight points.
After Ubaka’s 3-pointer with 14:45 to play pulled Cal to 44-40, Stanford used a 12-2 run to take charge for good.
The Cardinal earned a spot in the poll this week for the first time since the 2005-06 preseason, and third-year coach Johnson has a ranked team for the first time during his Stanford tenure. It’s unclear whether this win will be enough to keep them in the poll for another week.
A 16-4 run by Cal got the Bears back in it late in the first half, with pint-sized freshman point guard Randle scoring nine in the spurt, including two 3-pointers. Stanford shot 54 percent in the opening half.
“Certainly we dug ourselves a hole early in the game,” Cal coach Ben Braun said. ‘We regrouped and came back with a lot of heart and intensity.”
The Bears started the game 2-for-12 to 8-of-11 for Stanford, which jumped out to a 20-4 lead before Cal began to get into its offense. The Bears forced eight first-half turnovers to stay within six at 35-29 at halftime despite shooting 38 percent.
“We were disappointed,” Robertson said. “This is a big game to come out with that kind of effort.”
The Bears welcomed back forward Eric Vierneisel, who missed the previous two games against UCLA and USC with a sprained left ankle. His return still left the Bears with only nine healthy scholarship players, including a former walk-on and two freshmen.