Senior Dorian Pickens returned to action after missing the past 11 games and that was the best news of the day for the Stanford men's basketball team, which dropped a 77-74 decision to visiting California in the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams on Saturday night.
"Being away from the games that long, it's nice to come back," Pickens said. "But when you lose the game, it kills the feeling of anything I can feel individually."
Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey each added 15 points for the Cardinal (6-8, 0-1), which led for all but two minutes. Pickens added 13 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers. Humphrey had 13 rebounds.
Travis missed a 3-point attempt with three seconds left that would have tied the game.
"Reid did have a clean look, and in that situation, six seconds left to get a clean look is a positive, but obviously it didn't go in," Stanford coach Jarod Haase said. "This game is going to sting and it's going to hurt, but at the same time I do feel like we are building the foundation of something special."
Kezie Okpala, who scored 11 points on the night, hit a jumper 5:47 into the contest that highlighted an early 11-0 run that turned a deficit into a 15-6 margin.
Stanford eventually led by as many as 17 late in the first half and was still ahead by 17 after Daejon Davis hit a 3-pointer with 9:28 remaining to play.
California went on a scoring spree, hitting 11 of its next 15 shots and grabbed a 75-73 edge with 29 seconds left.
"Our defense was poor. I don't think our defensive performance was what our standard usually is and needs to be," Pickens said. "On offense, we lacked aggressiveness, and on defense we weren't able to get stops. If you don't get stops, that kills you."
Travis hit one of two free throws to make it 75-74 and the Bears answered with a pair of foul shots with 17 seconds left.
"Our inability to make free throws and get stops down the stretch ended up being the ballgame," Haase said. "We missed 16 free throws and that is going to be a problem. On the defensive end, we'll analyze that. We did everything from a variety of zone presses to man-to-man, doubling in the post to man-to-man, not doubling the post to some zone defense and none of them worked."
Stanford hosts UCLA at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a Pac-12 contest.
Madison Michelis and Aliyah Brantley each recorded a double-double and the Menlo College women's basketball team downed visiting College of St. Mary's, 86-67, Saturday in the Peninsula Classic.
Michelis recorded her third consecutive double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Brantley set career-highs with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Celina Pagan scored 19 of her 27 points in the first half for the Oaks (12-2), who travel to No. 15 The Master's University for the Golden State Athletic Conference opener for both teams at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.