February 22, 2015

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Mercedes Jefflo traded texts with California associate head coach Charmin Smith after a rough loss to Stanford last week and made one thing clear about bouncing back in the next meeting.

''I said, `That's the only option we have. We have to get the next one, that's our job,''' Jefflo said.

On Sunday, she had a big hand in making that happen. A hot hand.

Jefflo scored a key basket with 1:59 to play, and the Golden Bears beat No. 18 Stanford 63-53 to deny the Cardinal a chance at winning their 15th straight regular-season conference title.

Jefflo finished with 15 points, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers during a decisive second-half run, and Cal (20-7, 12-4 Pac-12) earned a split with its rival in the second meeting over a five-day span and spoiled the Cardinal's senior day.

No. 7 Oregon State clinched at least a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title earlier Sunday at Utah. The Bay Area teams face the Oregon schools for the first and only time this coming week to close out the regular season.

''It just puts out a statement that it's not only Stanford anymore,'' said Jefflo, who added four assists and two steals. ''It's multiple teams, and it's always going to be a battle.''

Amber Orrange kept her team close late on the way to 11 points in her final conference game at Maples Pavilion, and freshman Brittany McPhee scored a season-best 24 points and played her most minutes yet for the Cardinal (20-8, 12-4).

Cal used a 9-0 run and Jefflo's hot hand to build a 45-38 lead, then Stanford answered right back on consecutive baskets by McPhee and a tying hoop from Orrange. But the Cardinal couldn't overcome 17 turnovers.

Reshanda Gray scored two quick baskets after intermission but picked up her third foul and went to the bench at the 18:53 mark before returning and making an impact down the stretch. She converted two free throws with 1:20 left and finished with 17 points. Playing again in front of WNBA coaches, Brittany Boyd had 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.

This back-to-back schedule was similar to two years ago, when the teams played twice in a week. Cal lost at home before a 67-55 win at Maples that snapped Stanford's 81-game conference winning streak, and the Bears went on to the program's first Final Four.

This time, Cal bounced back from a 59-47 home defeat Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion, in which the Golden Bears went the final 12:55 without a field goal and were held to their lowest scoring total in a conference game in more than four years.

''This is a big one for us, because Stanford is so good and our conference is so good,'' Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said.

McPhee followed up a big game in Berkeley with a career day, earning more playing time and responsibility. She scored three straight layins to get the Cardinal back in it late midway through the first half.

She had scored 45 points all season before putting up nine points Wednesday. Now, she might have earned a chance to be in the starting lineup.

''I think she has,'' coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''She backed it up. She wasn't this kind of one-game wonder.''

The Bears made 7 of their first 13 shots while Stanford missed 12 of its 15 before McPhee got hot. The guard, who missed seven weeks early in the season with a stress reaction in her foot, shot 7 for 10 in the first half to put the Cardinal ahead.

Cal hit three straight 3-pointers with two by Jefflo to build an early 18-9 lead.

VanDerveer presented the Cal seniors with flowers at midcourt during introductions. The Cardinal seniors were honored postgame after their final Pac-12 home game, with video highlights.

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TIP-INS

California: Fourth-year coach Gottlieb won her 99th game at Cal. ... Cal held a 35-31 rebounding edge.

Stanford: Stanford lost for only the second time in 15 meetings. ... Stanford had four shot-clock violations by six minutes into the second half.

HOME COURT

After dominating at Maples Pavilion for decades, Stanford had three home losses for the first time since 2006-07. Now, the Cardinal will focus on finishing the regular-season strong to prepare for the conference tournament.

''Well, that was a good 15 years. That was fun,'' VanDerveer said. ''And last year when we won the regular season, OK, tournament time. We have to focus on the Pac-12 tournament to guarantee ourselves an NCAA tournament bid.''

UP NEXT

California: At Oregon on Thursday.

Stanford: At Oregon State on Thursday.

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