The shots wouldn't fall for California and the Golden Bears had no answer for Chiney Ogwumike.
The one bright note is the seventh-ranked Bears get another shot at toppling their rivals in five days.
Ogwumike scored 26 points and Amber Orrange added 15 to help No. 5 Stanford pull away from seventh-ranked Cal for its 81st straight win against a conference opponent, 62-53 over the Bears on Tuesday night.
"Obviously we want to win one of these ones here pretty soon in order to make it the rivalry it should be," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "I think our players are hungry to do that and they're working hard."
What they need to do is make more shots. Cal (12-2, 2-1 Pac-12) shot just 30 percent from the floor and missed 19 of 21 3-pointers on the night. Despite all that and the usual strong performance by Ogwumike, the game was tied midway through the second half before Stanford (14-1, 3-0) finally pulled away for its 10th straight win in the series.
Now the Bears are preparing for the rematch at Stanford on Sunday.
"I don't feel like we can't compete with them," Cal guard Layshia Clarendon said. "I don't feel it was far off. We're still confident, even more confident knowing we let Chiney go off like that and there are some scouting report changes we can make. We're fine. We're not losing our head because we lost one."
Clarendon scored 17 points on 6-for-20 shooting to lead the Bears, whose only losses this season are to Stanford and at No. 4 Duke. Cal hasn't beaten a top five team since a win over No. 2 Rutgers on Nov. 22, 2008.
But with little offensive help, it wasn't enough to end Stanford's conference winning streak that started after a loss here to Cal on Jan. 18, 2009.
"We had a rough shooting night," Gottlieb said. "You can't expect to beat a team as good as Stanford if you go 2 for 21 from 3. I think we really battled through that, especially in the first half. In the second half ultimately it deflated us a little bit and allowed Stanford to get better looks than we wanted them to."
The game was tight as could be for most of the night with the lead never getting bigger than four points for either team for a span of more than 22 minutes starting midway through the first half.
The Bears overcame their poor shooting with relentless rebounding, using 21 offensive boards to score 22 second-chance points. But that wasn't enough to pull away because of another spectacular night from Ogwumike, who scored on jumpers, drives and putbacks to get the Cardinal close.
Stanford finally started to pull away with six straight points just past the midway point of the second half with Joslyn Tinkle getting out in transition for an easy layup that gave the Cardinal a 52-46 lead with 6 minutes left.
Ogwumike then came up with the biggest play of the night after a held ball gave the Cardinal the ball at halfcourt with 2 seconds on the shot clock. Tinkle threw up the inbound pass off the backboard and Ogwumike converted the layup as the shot-clock expired. She drew a foul on the play but missed the free throw, keeping the lead at eight points.
"There was a short shot clock," Ogwumike said. "I told Joslyn just throw it up there and I'll try to get it. I tried to get it. We had 2 seconds to put it up. Luck of the Irish, I guess."
That was too much for Cal to overcome and the Bears lost for the 23rd time in the past 26 home games against Stanford.
"When we got down six, we got a little bit rattled and they broke it open from there," Clarendon said. "You can't do that against a team like that."
Cal had the edge early and used an 8-2 run midway through the first half to take a six-point lead that was the biggest of the night for either team until the final 5 minutes.
But Ogwumike kept the Cardinal close with 14 points in the first half. Cal took a 31-29 lead at the break after Brittany Boyd stole the ball from Orrange just past halfcourt and converted a layup just before the buzzer.