STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford turned a pair of one-point losses last weekend into a positive.
First-year Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins stressed this week the need to respond after two frustrating finishes that led to being swept at the Washington schools -- and his players apparently took that message to heart.
Lawrence Hill matched his career high with 25 points and Stanford spoiled former coach Mike Montgomery's return to Maples Pavilion in charge of California (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) with a 75-69 victory over its archrival Saturday night.
"Last weekend had an impact on our team," Dawkins said. "We were in position to win two games and didn't win either. We learned from that, though. I said, 'Sometimes a tough lesson is the lesson we learn the best.' I don't think we would have responded had we not had that experience last weekend."
The Cardinal's big win in the season's first meeting for Bay Area bragging rights snapped Cal's nine-game winning streak and also might have knocked the Golden Bears out of the Top 25 after they got back in the poll for the first time since 2003.
Anthony Goods added 19 points and Landry Fields 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks for Stanford (12-3, 2-3 Pac-10), which avoided dropping three in a row for the first time since ending the 2006-07 season by losing three straight.
Jamal Boykin scored a career-high 22 points as Cal (15-3, 4-1) kept things close until late at Maples, where a sellout crowd of 7,329 packed the arena. Theo Robertson hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 1:36 on the way to 17 points for the Bears, but it wasn't enough in a game featuring 15 lead changes and 10 ties.
"History says the aggressive team gets the whistle. I didn't think we were the aggressor," said Montgomery, who admitted being disappointed in his team's preparation during the week. "I felt all along they were a very good basketball team. I thought they were underrated. I thought they were given a short shift in how people evaluated them. That being said, I would have liked to see us compete a little bit better."
Hill's basket with 5:35 left gave Stanford its biggest lead yet of five points and the Cardinal built on that. Hill, Goods and Mitch Johnson were recruited by Montgomery at Stanford, but the coach was already gone to the NBA's Golden State Warriors by the time they arrived.
Hill appreciated the praise from Montgomery.
"That's good to hear," Hill said. "That's one of our keys to the game -- to be in attack mode the whole time. We're not satisfied with how we played last weekend. Coach said, 'Draw a line in the sand.' We had to come out and play hard."
Jerome Randle, the Pac-10's second-leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, had 13 on 6-for-14 shooting and seven assists, but also committed six turnovers in a rare down performance before leaving the game in the waning seconds.
"I didn't feel we really focused as a team in practice all week. It came back to bite us," Randle said. "They knew exactly what we were going to do."
About an hour before tipoff, Montgomery stood in the corner of the arena chatting with several people watching the teams warm up. He purposely re-entered Maples for the game at the last possible moment -- about 3 minutes before the start -- and received a warm welcome. The crowd cheered again, with some scattered boos, when Montgomery's name was announced.
Cal's Patrick Christopher had four straight 20-point performances coming in, including 27 in the Bears' 88-85, triple-overtime win at Washington last Saturday, but finished with only nine. The Bears had produced the school's best start since the 1959-60 team went 28-2 and lost in the championship game of the NCAA tournament to Ohio State.
"We need to learn to handle success," Boykin said. "I know we were all feeling pretty good about ourselves and Stanford was feeling bad about themselves. That could have an impact."
Montgomery coached the Cardinal for 18 seasons and took them to second round of the NCAA tournament 10 straight times before departing for the Warriors. Stanford won its first 26 games in Montgomery's final year in 2003-04 and finished the regular season ranked No. 1 with a 29-1 record. He had a 393-167 mark at Stanford.
Stanford alumnus and longtime donor John Arrillaga, who led the renovation of both Maples Pavilion and Stanford Stadium in recent years, made a special trip down to the Cal locker room after the game to greet Montgomery. The two exchanged a handshake and spoke briefly before Montgomery headed into the locker room to talk to his players.
Cal will get a chance to even the season series when the teams play in Berkeley on Feb. 14.