BERKELEY -- The Cal women's basketball team has completed another challenging, yet successful weekend in the much-improved Pac-12 but still finds itself in a first-place tie.
The Bears completed a home sweep by holding off No. 14 UCLA 70-65 on Sunday, behind 22 points from Layshia Clarendon.
They share the Pac-12 lead with Stanford, a 75-66 winner over USC. But no doubt the No. 7-ranked Bears (15-2, 5-1) have earned their place at the top.
The victory in front of 2,901 fans at Haas Pavilion came a week after Cal ended Stanford's 81-game conference winning streak and was the third win over a nationally ranked opponent in its past five games.
"It speaks to the fact that we are a legitimate top-level basketball team, and I thought we got through a couple of them without even shooting the ball well," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said.
The Bears shot better against a UCLA defense that didn't sag off the perimeter and clog the paint quite as much as other recent opponents.
The defense was a welcome change for senior center Talia Caldwell and junior forward Gennifer Brandon, both of whom recorded double-doubles against the Bruins (13-4, 4-2).
"We knew they play that game really well where they pressure you, then swarm the paint," said Caldwell, who had a season-high 11 rebounds to go with 14 points. "It was fun not seeing the sagging man (defense) for a little bit."
Three days after matching a program record with 26 rebounds in a win over USC, Brandon added 14 boards and 12 points against UCLA's formidable front line.
But like most of Cal's recent victories, this one wasn't easy.
The Bears led nearly the entire way, but the Bruins turned on the press and went on a late 8-0 run.
UCLA closed to within four points with 1:01 left when Kari Korver nailed an open 3-pointer. From there, the Bears made enough free throws and grabbed some key offensive rebounds to hold on for the win.
"We made some mistakes down the stretch that made it a little closer, but you always want to learn those lessons in a win," said Gottlieb.
Clarendon, who had six assists to go with her 22 points, and the Bears had an answer for every UCLA run.
UCLA coach Cori Close said she thought the Bears senior guard made the biggest difference.
"Clarendon was solid as a rock," Close said. "She makes great decisions, she knows exactly who she is as a player. It's hard to get her sped up and to play out of control."
Cal held UCLA leading scorer Markel Walker to seven points on 3-of-12 shooting, though the forward was an effective distributor with 10 assists.
Thea Lemberger led the Bruins with 15 points.