SALT LAKE CITY — California knew its opening stretch of Pac-12 games was going to be tough.
Friday night was an indication as the No. 7 Golden Bears survived a furious Utah rally to hold on for a 55-50 victory in the teams' conference opener.
"We struggled to score in the second half and honestly that's a concern, but I knew it was going to be a tight game," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "I like the way we responded down the stretch."
After Utah pulled within four points with 2:34 remaining on Michelle Plouffe's pull-up jumper, the Bears forced the Utes into a pair of misses.
Cal then made 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch<NO1> to seal the win<NO>.
The Utes' missed opportunities early in the second half were critical after they held Cal scoreless over the first six minutes but managed just six points of their own. "We stopped them time after time," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "With a team that's athletic, you have to make sure you have good long possessions and make them guard you and hope that you can make a few. We missed some easy ones, but Cal gets a lot of credit. They are a very talented athletic group."