BERKELEY — The Cal women's basketball team survived a major scare against Oregon State on Sunday to keep its chances for a Pac-12 regular season championship alive.
Layshia Clarendon scored 26 points to help the Bears dig themselves out of a 17-point hole and post a 58-56 victory over one of the conference's least successful teams.
What looked like a mismatch on paper instead turned into a thriller for a Senior Day crowd of 3,475 at Haas Pavilion.
No. 6 ranked Cal (25-2, 15-1 Pac-12) couldn't celebrate a program-best 13th consecutive victory until Sha Edwards-Teasley's baseline jumper with seven seconds left rattled out, and Cal's Eliza Pierre secured the rebound.
"I told them team I'm as proud of this win as any of them because I think it tested who we are," said Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "I think it was more (Oregon State) being good than us being not ready... We had shots rim out, they had everything go in."
The Beavers (9-19, 3-13 Pac-12), who have now lost 10 straight, made five consecutive 3-pointers in the first half and led 30-18 at the break.
But as they have so many times this season, the Bears didn't fold.
Point guard Brittany Boyd energized the crowd with back-to-back steals that the Bears turned into transition buckets, then Clarendon took over with her mid-range jump shot. The senior guard scored eight straight Cal points during one stretch of the second-half comeback.
"She's such a talented scorer," said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck. "I don't think anyone in the conference releases the ball at a higher point than she does. She's so hard to guard."
A Clarendon bucket with 5:46 left gave Cal the lead for good, and the Bears held off the Beavers in the tense closing minutes.
Gennifer Brandon finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season.
Before the game, Cal honored its four seniors — Clarendon, Pierre, Talia Caldwell and Tierra Rogers. The group won the WNIT as freshmen, now are leading one of the best teams in Cal history.
"They are remarkable kids off the court and have defined what this program is going to be about going forward," Gottlieb said.
The win keeps Cal tied with Stanford atop the Pac-12 standings with one weekend of play remaining. It also guarantees a top two seed at the upcoming conference tournament. Stanford owns the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament in the case the two squads finish with identical conference records.