BERKELEY, California — In one surprising second-half stretch, Stanford turned up the defense and took California right out of its game.
The Golden Bears went cold and never recovered.
Amber Orrange keyed the decisive run after halftime and finished with 19 points, leading the 18th-ranked Cardinal to a 59-47 win on Wednesday night in the first of two meetings between the rivals in a five-day span.
"Our second half was really special," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "When they were limited to one shot, when they were limited to not getting their easy baskets in transition, that's discouraging."
Lili Thompson added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinal (20-7, 12-3 Pac-12), who have won three straight since being swept at the Arizona schools earlier this month. Freshman Brittany McPhee gave Stanford nine points and six rebounds off the bench.
Mercedes Jefflo led Cal (19-7, 11-4) with 14 points, but the Golden Bears went the final 12:55 without a field goal. They shot 11.1 percent over the final 20 minutes.
"You can't win a lot of games shooting 15 for 55. There's not really a way around of that," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "Stanford's too good to not score for long stretches of time."
Both teams are in a key stretch to end the season, with their only meetings against the Oregon schools to close out the conference slate next week — including dates with No. 7 Oregon State in Corvallis.
Orrange scored six straight points during a 13-0 run midway through the second half that put the Cardinal ahead 52-44 with 6:58 to play. Cal was 0 for 13 during that stretch in the first edition of the Battle of the Bay.
After Brittany Boyd's basket with 12:55 remaining, Cal went cold.
"We like to get out in transition and they didn't get to get into their press," Thompson said.
Now, the Bears will try to bounce back in a hurry to face the Cardinal again.
The teams also played twice in a short span two years ago, with Stanford winning by nine points on Cal's home floor in Haas Pavilion before the seventh-ranked Bears snapped No. 5 Stanford's 81-game conference winning streak with a 67-55 win at Maples Pavilion.
Gottlieb gathered her team together for a film session with popcorn between games, then her Cal team went on to reach the program's first and only Final Four.
Jefflo scored seven points as Cal used a 19-2 run — including 15 unanswered points — to turn a 15-11 deficit into a 30-17 lead late in the first half on the way to a 32-23 lead at the break. The Bears adjusted defensively to deny the Cardinal open looks from the perimeter while also clogging the middle, forcing five turnovers in a nearly five-minute span that included a shot clock violation.
Cal scored the game's opening basket then missed six straight field-goal tries before their next hoop 6 ½ minutes later. That included starting 0 for 5 on 3s.
Bonnie Samuelson missed two long 3s in the opening four-plus minutes, one from eight feet beyond the 3-point arc on the left wing. Stanford began just 1 for 8 from long range — a key part of its game.
Samuelson, who was coming off career-high eight 3-pointers in a win against UCLA last Sunday, had six points.
Coach Anne Donovan of the Connecticut Sun and Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault were among the WNBA representatives in attendance. Boyd is attracting plenty of attention as a projected top-five pick.
VanDerveer praised McPhee, who missed seven weeks early in the season with a stress reaction in her foot.
"This game helped my confidence in her. That's a huge thing," VanDerveer said. "We want more people coming in there and being aggressive. Now she's kind of like broken through."
Gottlieb considered McPhee a difference maker, saying, "She changed the game for them."
Stanford: The Cardinal came in shooting 38.9 percent from 3-point range, fifth best in the nation. ... Stanford is the 14-time defending conference regular season champion, but that streak could be in jeopardy. ... Stanford held a 43-27 rebounding edge.
California: The Bears have beaten Stanford at home only three times in 28 meetings since a home win on Feb. 20, 1987. They also took down the Cardinal in Berkeley on Jan. 18, 2009. ... Cal has beaten only one ranked opponent this season. ... The Bears shot 27.3 percent.
Cal at Stanford on Sunday.