BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — California coach Lindsay Gottlieb had a simple plan once her team fell behind by 17 points against Oregon State. Get the ball to Layshia Clarendon.
Clarendon scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half and the sixth-ranked Golden Bears rallied to beat the Beavers 58-56 on Sunday, extending the longest winning streak in school history.
"I rode Layshia like this was her senior year in high school and I was going to have her (take) 50 shots," said Gottlieb after Cal's biggest comeback of the season. "The coaches on the bench were literally in my ear, 'Every single thing we have, run it to Layshia.' We obviously made a conscious decision to go through her."
It couldn't have worked out any better for the Bears, who were on the verge of losing for the first time in nearly seven weeks before Clarendon bailed them out.
Playing in her final home game, Clarendon scored eight straight points during one stretch in the second half after Brittany Boyd had given the Bears a spark. Clarendon, who went 10 of 22 from the floor, also had the assist on Gennifer Brandon's go-ahead jumper then made a critical 14-foot leaner before helping Cal (25-2, 15-1 Pac-12) hold on over a frantic final 3 minutes.
The Bears didn't make another shot after Clarendon's bucket but held on for the win after being dominated for much of the game.
"I'm a little in shock still but we got the win," said Clarendon, who finished 10 of 22 from the floor. "It felt good to have our fans this loud. It was like back East ... and I think it affected them toward the end."
California's 13th straight win assured it of finishing no worse than second place in the Pac-12 for the fourth time in six years, though Gottlieb's team is eyeing a bigger prize. The Bears have never won the conference championship, something they can accomplish with wins against Washington State and Washington next weekend.
It wouldn't be possible had Cal not turned things around in the second half.
"I'm as proud of this win as any of them," Gottlieb said. "It tested who we are. This team dug in and across the board said this is not happening today."
Oregon State pulled within 57-54 on Ali Gibson's 3-pointer, and after one free by Cal's Talia Caldwell, Deven Hunter scored on a putback to make it 58-56. The Beavers took only one shot after that but ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley's long jumper missed and Eliza Pierre grabbed the rebound to secure the win Cal's 14th consecutive win over Oregon State.
"They were more aggressive and they were able to get to the (free throw) line," Beavers coach Scott Rueck said. "That was the difference in the game."
Jamie Weisner had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Mollee Schwegler added 15 points for Oregon State (9-19, 3-13). The Beavers have lost seven conference games by five points or fewer.
The Beavers, who start two freshmen and a sophomore, gave the Bears fits in the first half and were positioned to beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 2004 before unraveling in the second half.
Cal had limited Oregon State to 14 points in the first half of their first meeting earlier this season but it was a complete turnaround in the rematch.
The Beavers built a 28-11 lead with just over three minutes left behind the aggressive deep shooting by Weisner and Schwegler. Weisner, the Pac-12's leading 3-point shooter, made three 3s while Schwegler added two from beyond the arc, including a one-hander that banked in just before the shot clock went off.
Not much went right for the Bears.
They missed 13 of their first 16 shots, blew a breakway layup and let a defensive rebound slip away for a turnover against a team Cal beat by 22 on Feb. 1.
Brandon helped the Bears briefly stop the slide with three free throws over the final 2:44 while Pierre drove through traffic and flipped the ball off the backboard to help cut Oregon State's lead to 30-18 at the break.
Boyd, who was held out of Friday's win over Oregon with a strained groin, helped jumpstart the Bears in the second half.
She scored Cal's first basket of the second half on a breakaway layup then had four points, two steals and an assist during a 6-0 run that pulled the Bears within 36-31 with 15:16 remaining.
Weisner ended the burst with a three-point play and Oregon State later extended its lead to 10 before Clarendon took over.
Brandon finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, her 29th career double-double, while Boyd had nine points and six assists.