BERKELEY, California — Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins was quite comfortable putting the game in the hands of his three starting seniors down the stretch against California.
It's a strategy that's worked well for the Cardinal most of the season and has Dawkins' team near the top of the Pac-12 standings.
Chasson Randle scored 25 points, Anthony Brown made two key 3-pointers in the final five minutes and Stanford held on to beat California 69-59 on Wednesday night.
"My seniors were terrific tonight," Dawkins said. "Those guys have all stepped up. Whether it's a big defensive play for us, scoring the basketball, they seem to always come up with that play that's needed."
Stefan Nastic added 15 points and nine rebounds while Brown finished with 18 points for the surging Cardinal (12-4, 4-1 Pac-12). Stanford has won four straight and eight of 10 overall to stay percentage points behind No. 8 Utah.
It hasn't been an easy ride for Dawkins' team. Two of the Cardinal's past four games have gone to overtime while the other two were decided by a total of 12 points.
This was another close one until Randle, Nastic and Brown helped Stanford pull away.
"Even when we made runs, their seniors kept their role guys in the game, kept them locked in," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "That's what it looks like when you have veteran guys, experienced guys. It's a great lesson for us to learn from."
Stanford's defense limited California to three baskets over the final seven minutes, allowing the Cardinal to break open a game that had been close throughout the night.
"We knew they were going to come out with fight and they should," Randle said. "We had to keep our composure. Our seniors led the way, especially in the second half."
Stanford is the first Pac-12 team with four conference wins this season. Utah is 3-0 in conference and hosts Arizona State on Thursday.
Tyrone Wallace had 14 points and nine rebounds, David Kravish scored 11 with nine rebounds and Jordan Mathews had 10 points for the Golden Bears. California (11-7, 1-4) has lost four straight.
"In the second half shots weren't falling for us ... and they made some big plays," Kravish said. "We were making stops but when it came down to the other end, we couldn't complete it."
Stanford led 49-45 with just over nine minutes left when the Cardinal pulled away.
Randle, who had 11 points in the first half, got Stanford rolling when he scored on an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Brown. He later added a short jumper then closed out the night with a pair of free throws to put the Cardinal up 67-57 with 1:09 remaining.
Jabari Bird, playing for the second time since missing 10 consecutive games due to a left foot injury, came off the bench to give Cal a lift in the first half. After missing his first shot, Bird made a pair of 3-pointers then later added two free throws to help give the Bears a 31-26 halftime lead.
Stanford led six times in first half but was held without a bucket over the final five minutes following a long jumper by Nastic.
Stanford: The Cardinal had a better shooting percentage than the Bears in the first half but was dominated on the boards, giving up eight offensive rebounds before halftime. ... Chasson Randle needs 35 points to reach 2,000 for his career.
California: Forward Roger Moute a Bidias and center Kingsley Okoroh started for the third consecutive game since coach Cuonzo Martin shook up the Bears' lineup. ... Kravish needs two blocks to move into fifth place on Pac-12's career chart. ... Bird played 20 minutes after being limited to eight against UCLA because of leg cramps.
Stanford: At UConn on Saturday.
California: Hosts Arizona State on Jan. 22.