Cal women upset Stanford on Asha Thomas’ buzzer-beater

Thursday night’s game was played at such a high level that the Cal and Stanford women’s basketball teams agreed to play it back Saturday.

In a back-and-forth showcase of two of the country’s top-10 players, the lead changed hands four times in the final 30 seconds, with Asha Thomas’ acrobatic, left-handed layup giving the Bears the 81-80 upset at the buzzer.

Neither team led by more than six points, and Cal was nursing a 73-71 lead when Kristine Anigwe completed one of the most determined sequences of the game. She earned a second possession with an offensive rebound, relocated the other block and finished a three-point play that extended the Bears’ lead to 76-71 with 2:13 on the clock.

DiJoani Carrington’s three-point play with 1:07 left fouled Kianna Smith out of the game trimmed Cal’s advantage to 77-76. Following an empty possession by Cal, Alanna Smith got around Anigwe and made a left-handed scoop to put the Cardinal on top 78-77 with 30.7 seconds remaining.

McKenzie Forbes missed an open 3-pointer with fewer than 12 seconds left, but Asha Thomas was fouled while chasing down the offensive rebound. The 5-foot-4 senior scored her first two points of a game, a pair of free throws that gave Cal a 79-78 edge with 9.5 seconds left.

Anigwe fouled out with 7.2 seconds left, sending Carrington to the foul line. The dynamic junior guard made up for some misses earlier in the quarter by sinking the two clutch shots and putting Stanford up by one before Thomas’ heroics

Cal (14-6, 5-4 Pac-12) heads to No. 8 Stanford (17-2, 7-1) on Saturday for the rematch, sporting its first home win over a top-10 opponent since 2009 and its first consecutive victories over the Cardinal since winning eight in a row in (1981-86).

The series that dates to the first-ever women’s college basketball game in 1896, and has been dominated by Stanford 69-21. Cal snapped a six-game losing skid to the Cardinal in the teams’ previous meeting (Feb. 17) and added Thursday’s win behind an Anigwe and a strong group of backup singers.

Anigwe had 25 points and 24 rebounds, her 21st consecutive double to tie Jillian Talleye for Division I’s fifth-best streak ever. Jaelyn Brown added 18 points, Kianna Smith had 16, and Recee Caldwell chipped in 11 on a night when Cal set a season-high three-pointers.

The Bears went 12-of-30 from the 3-point line against a Stanford defense that sagged in on Anigwe for most of the night. The Cardinal, who lost consecutive Pac-12 games for the first time since February 2015, were led by Carrington’s 23 points and 12 rebounds and Alanna Smith’s 21 and nine.

Cal never trailed in the first quarter, with Anigwe and Kianna Smith combining for 18 points and spotting the Bears a 22-20 lead. Stanford’s first lead (24-22) came at the 8:04 mark of the second quarter, when Alanna Smith made a turnaround shot on one of the few first-half possessions that included the anticipated matchup against Anigwe.

Both teams rotated a series of bodies at the opponent’s projected top-10 pick, and Stanford sporadically double- and triple-teamed Anigwe. All the attention on Anigwe and Alanna Smith opened opportunities for the guards.

Carrington and a half-high 15 points for Stanford, and Caldwell made three 3-pointers in a span of two minutes, 15 seconds. Her third of that sequence put the Bears ahead 33-29 four minutes before halftime, but Lacie Hull’s turnaround jumper right before the break tied it 38-38.

Anigwe went 19 minutes, 37 seconds with only one basket during a stretch that spanned the first three quarters, but she made up for the lull with a barrage at the end of the third. She scored nine of the Bears’ final 15 points in the frame to send the game into the fourth quarter knotted at 61-61.

Stanford sagged off Brown for most of the game and basically left her unguarded in the fourth quarter. The lefty made back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the fourth to put Cal up 69-65, but as was the custom in the back-and-forth game, Stanford scored four in a row for the 11th tie.

Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: rsimmons@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Cal-women-upset-Stanford-on-Asha-Thomas-13579554.php.

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