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Women’s basketball: Cal tops UCLA

The Cal women remain alone in second place in the Pac-12 after a 77-72 win at UCLA.

Guard Brittany Boyd had 13 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Bears (19-7, 11-4).

Reshanda Gray had 13 points and 15 rebounds, Afure Jemerigbe scored 15 points, and Gennifer Brandon came off the bench for 14 points and 11 rebounds.

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Basketball: UCLA game thread

Click here to read my game story.

FINAL SCORE: UCLA 86, Cal 66. The No. 23 Bruins (21-5, 10-3) used an 18-3 run to pull away and bury the Bears (17-9, 8-5). UCLA led by as many as 27 points. Adams scored 28 for UCLA. Mathews led the Bears with 16. 

13:09 2nd H: Big trouble for the Bears — UCLA leads 61-44 and seems able to score whenever it wants. Especially Adams, who has 18 points.

15:50 2nd H: A 7-2 UCLA burst, punctuated by a 3-pointer from David Wear, and it’s 55-41. Kyle Anderson has three fouls for the Bruins, but has remained in the game. Adams has 14 points for UCLA, which seems able to score from almost anywhere on the floor against the Bears. Gonna be a long climb back for Cal.

HALFTIME SCORE: UCLA 44, CAL 32. Jordan Adams hits a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in the half and the Bruins equal their biggest lead of the half. The Bears had the margin down to four points before UCLA outscored them 10-2 over the final 3 minutes. Adams has 12 points for UCLA, Bryce Alford and Travis Wear each have seven and Anderson has four points, five rebounds and four assists. Cal, which shot just 34.5 percent in the first UCLA game, still having trouble: 39.3 percent in the half. Bird and Mathews with nine and eight points, respectively. Cobbs finally got into the act — he has five points and five assists. 

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Basketball: With 2nd place on the line, Bears promise they’ll to be ready for UCLA

* Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

A crowd of more than 11,000 will be on hand at Haas Pavilion to watch Cal take on No. 23 UCLA, and maybe that will provide more motivation than . . . a large pepperoni?

Asked this week whether a 76-64 loss at Pauley Pavilion last month will fuel the Bears, coach Mike Montgomery laughed and suggested, “Our guys, pizza fuels them.”

In other words, he can’t always get a read on when this team will be ready to burst from the chute, fired up to play.

“I would think that just given how poorly we played on that L.A. weekend,” he said, “there would be some kind of `we can play better than that’ thought process.

“Getting the road sweep (in Washington) puts us back in the conversation, there should be some excitement from that. UCLA’s very good.

Senior Justin Cobbs wants to assure his coach the Bears will be ready.

“It’s time to play,” he said. “We’re fighting for a Pac-12 championship now. If you don’t have a little fire under you, something is wrong. We’ll come out aggressive.

“We know the importance of this game.”

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Basketball: Bears complete weekend sweep in Washington with 72-59 comeback win at UW

Click here to read our correspondent’s game story.

Disclaimer: I was not in Seattle for today’s Cal-Washington game.

Cal rallies from an early 12-point hole and controls the action the rest of the way for a 72-59 win at Washington. The Bears (17-8, 8-4 Pac-12) complete a season sweep of the Huskies (14-12, 6-7) and a weekend road sweep in Washington.

Cal became the first Pac-12 team to beat Washington in Seattle and improved its own conference road record to 5-2. The Bears are tied for third in the Pac-12 standings with Arizona State, one game behind UCLA, which beat Utah on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears return home to face UCLA on Wednesday, then USC on Sunday. Those two opponents accounted for Cal’s only two road losses of the conference season so far.

Tyrone Wallace had a terrific game for the Bears with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and aggressive defense. Richard Solomon finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, and Justin Cobbs had 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Cobbs, who left the game briefly with 9:59 left after tweaking his right ankle, returned two minutes later and seems fine.

Cal outscored the Huskies 57-34 over the final 46 1/2 minutes of the game after trailing 27-15. A big key: The Bears’ ability to get easy baskets in transition.

They did that by forcing 14 turnovers, which they turned into 20 points.

The Bears held UW star C.J. Wilcox — the Pac-12′s No. 2 scorer at 19.2 ppg — to eight points, equaling his season-low. Wilcox shot 4 for 12 and missed all six of his 3-point tries.

The Huskies, led by 21 points from Andrew Andrews, shot just 36 percent for the game and were 4 for 21 from beyond the arc.

Cal, being outrebounded 21-9 at one point early in the game wound up down just 41-39 in that department.

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Basketball: Bears go for Washington sweep

* Saturday, noon at Seattle (Pac-12 Networks)

Cal (16-8, 7-4) goes for its first road sweep in Washington since 2009 when it visits Washington (14-11, 6-6).

UPDATE: The Bears sit alone in fourth place entering play Saturday after Arizona State move ahead of them at 8-4 with a 69-66 double-overtime win over Arizona.

Coach Mike Montgomery said the Bears’ overtime win Wednesday at Washington State was one they had to have. They need this one, too.

The crowd below Arizona is congested, so there is little margin for error. UW takes a 5-0 record in conference home games into Saturday, but the Bears have been solid on the road, 4-2 in league play.

Cal routed UW 82-56 in Berkeley, one of the Bears’ best performances of the season. Five players scored in double digits, Cal dominated the boards and held the Huskies to 30-percent shooting.

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Basketball: Bears escape WSU, 80-76 OT

Click here to read our freelancer’s story on Cal-WSU.

Justin Cobbs scored all 22 of his points after halftime and Cal got past Washington State 80-76 in overtime in Pullman.

The Bears improved to 16-8, 7-4 in the Pac-12. They play Saturday at Washington, with a noon tipoff.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said on the post-game radio show. “A road sweep will get us back in the conversation. We had to have this one. I wasn’t going to tell anyone.”

Mike, everyone knew. A loss to the 11th-place Cougars coupled with a loss last month at last-place USC?

“This would have been a really bad loss,” he allowed. ”When you add in the SC loss and this one, it would have beem a really tough deal for us.

“We really needed this. I can’t tell you how much we needed this.”

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Basketball: No WSU game thread

Sorry folks, but I won’t be providing an in-game thread on Cal @ Washington State because I am not there. We have hired a freelance writer to cover the game.

I will be at the Ted Agu candlelight service at the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza in front of Memorial Stadium. The event runs from 7 to 8 p.m.

I will file a report on the basketball game later. Feel free to use this space to comment on the game, which tips off at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

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Basketball: Bird hopes to take flight again at WSU

* Wednesday at Pullman, Wash., 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

For 3 minutes, 57 seconds, Jabari Bird felt like himself again.

Otherwise, it’s been a tough few weeks for Cal’s freshman guard, still waiting to regain his form since returning from an ankle injury that put him on the shelf for four games after Christmas.

“It’s been really frustrating to start the season off the way I did, playing with a lot of confidence and having fun. And to come back and to almost be a shadow of what you used to be,” he said.

As the Bears (15-8, 6-4 Pac-12) prepare to visit Washington State (9-14, 2-9) on Wednesday night, Bird is coming off the latest in a series of quiet performances. He was scoreless and missed all five of his shots seven days ago in the Bears’ loss to Stanford.

“I’ve had a lot of time to myself to think about it, and I hate that,” Bird said. “I just want to get back on the court.”

A McDonald’s All-American last season at Richmond-Salesian, Bird arrived on campus last fall amid hype and hope. He was the highest-rated Bay Area prospect coach Mike Montgomery has brought to Cal.

As the season began, he looked the part.

Click here to read the rest of my story.

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Basketball: Stanford game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 80, Cal 69. The Bears fall out of a second-place tie, dropping to 15-8, 6-4 in the Pac-12. Stanford improves to 15-7, 6-4. Cobbs had 24 points and Wallace a career-high 21 for Cal. Powell had 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Cal missed nine free throws and shot 41 percent from the field.

1:54 2nd H: Cal has lots of things to point at in this one. Among them, 9 for 18 from the FT line.

2:04 2nd H: A drive by Wallace and Cal pulls to 71-59. But time is running out. Neither team has painted an offensive masterpiece: Stanford at 41.7 percent, Cal at 39 percent.

3:52 2nd H: This one may be over. Anthony Brown just scored on a drive through an open lane, was fouled and will shoot the and-1 with Stanford leading 68-52. Cal has scored five points in its past 15 possessions, shooting 1 for 13 from the floor over that stretch.

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Basketball: Kreklow to return for Stanford

* 6 p.m. Wednesday at Haas Pavilion (ESPN2)

Guard Ricky Kreklow, who has missed the past 11 games with a broken hand, is expected to play for Cal against Stanford on Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion.

Point guard Justin Cobbs called Kreklow a “glue guy” for the Bears (15-7, 6-3 Pac-12), who are playing their first game since knocking off top-ranked and unbeaten Arizona 60-58 on Saturday.

“He brings the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s Jorge-like,” Cobbs said, comparing him to former Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez, the 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year.

“He fights for everything, he’s very aggressive, physical,” Cobbs said. “He does a lot of the dirty work. He brings those things that make a team a team.”

Kreklow hasn’t played since Dec. 14 against Fresno. The 6-foot-6 junior started five of the team’s first 11 games, averaging 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds. He will come off the bench against Stanford.

“He needs to kind of ease himself back in and not try to be everything to everybody,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “What he’s always done is play hard. The kid’s got a lot of energy. He’s not afraid to bang, he’s not afraid to mix it up. If there’s a loose ball, he’s generally the first guy on the floor.

“Those are things we’ve sorely missed. So that would be very valuable to us, to get us that boost of energy and get guys going.”

Cal beat Stanford 69-62 at Maples Pavilion to open the conference schedule. The Cardinal (14-7, 5-4) comes off a 76-70 win over Arizona State, following a three-point loss to Arizona.