Two impressive freshman point guards are expected to have a say Sunday when No. 2 Stanford risks its 24-game winning streak when it faces Cal in a Pac-12 Conference showdown at 6 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.
The last time they met, Cal's Brittany Boyd had a career-high 19 points while Stanford's Amber Orrange didn't score in the Cardinal's 74-71 overtime victory at Maples Pavilion.
But much has changed since that Jan. 28 game as both guards enter the regular-season finale looking like veterans.
Boyd has polished her game for the second-place Bears (22-7, 13-4 Pac-12), who have won seven of their past eight games and expect to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
Orrange, on the other hand, has blossomed in the past two weeks to become an offensive threat for the Cardinal (27-1, 17-0), which probably needs her shooting touch to reach its fifth consecutive Final Four.
The Cardinal already has clinched its 12th consecutive conference title and owns a 74-game league winning streak that began in 2009 after losing to Cal at Haas. If Stanford hopes to avoid an upset Sunday, it might take clampdown defense on Boyd.
Between head-turning assists and steals leading to easy points, the guard has provided her share of highlight-reel plays for the Bears. She had no shortage of those while leading Berkeley High to the state title game last season.
Boyd leads Cal in assists (4.8 per game) and steals (2.5), and
"During games, I ask (the coaches) how many turnovers I have," Boyd said. "I don't like to make mistakes."
Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who has started Boyd since the second game of the season, will take the "freshman moments" because of the tremendous upside.
"Sometimes I catch myself having conversations with the assistants about what we want her to do better," Gottlieb said. "It's amazing that that's the level of conversation we're having. It's not that she needs to learn how to play at this level or needs to pick up the speed of the game, all the things that regular freshmen have to go through let alone freshman point guards."
Cardinal coaches might describe Orrange similarly. But unlike Boyd, she wasn't expected to have an immediate impact as one of three highly recruited guards.
Orrange has matured since Stanford lost Jasmine Camp and Alex Green to season-ending injuries. Then she seized her opportunity after the Cardinal struggled with a seven-point victory against Oregon State in January.
Coach Tara VanDerveer shook up the lineup Jan. 12 against Utah by starting forward Joslyn Tinkle and Orrange. Both have been starters since.
At first the guard focused on running the offense and playing good defense. Over the past four games, though, Orrange is shooting 65.2 percent while averaging 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and four assists.
"I get a lot of confidence from my teammates," she said. "They keep telling me to look to be more aggressive and offensive, so I'm feeling a little more aggressive."
Orrange, who led Houston's Westbury Christian School to three consecutive Texas state titles, uses her quickness to penetrate defenses. That has led to easy layups for post players.
"We like finishing for Amber because we know she works hard to makes plays for us," said fellow Texan Chiney Ogwumike, who played against Orrange since she was 9. "She's not the one to most articulate what she's feeling, but I think our team is enjoying playing with her so much."
Staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this report.