BERKELEY — Talia Caldwell scanned the scoresheet following her fourth double-double of the season and discovered something that really surprised California's senior center.
"You know what's my favorite stat? I had three assists," she said after getting a career-high 20 points and 12 rebounds as the sixth-ranked Golden Bears beat Arizona 91-86 on Sunday.
Caldwell could afford to feel good about her modest season-high assists total.
After averaging just five points through the first nine Pac-12 games, she's scored 48 in her past three and given Cal's interior game a much-needed spark while helping the Bears stay atop the conference standings.
Gennifer Brandon also had a double-double, Layshia Clarendon added 20 points despite a hip pointer in the first half. Afure Jemerigbe scored 11 for Cal (21-2, 11-1).
The Bears, bidding for their first Pac-12 title, extended their longest winning streak in four years to nine games after holding off a late rally by the Wildcats.
Arizona (11-11, 3-8) cut a 12-point lead to 90-86 with 24 seconds remaining following Kama Griffits' fifth 3-pointer of the game. But Brandon made one free throw then Cal forced an airball by Griffits from beyond the arc.
"Credit Arizona because I think it would have been easy for them to come in here and lay down when we got a lead," Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "They certainly didn't do that. We had some missed rotations, they broke the press and got some open looks. We need to just lock in and guard the ball better."
Caldwell was especially pivotal in helping Cal win its 13th straight game against Arizona. She scored seven consecutive points for the Bears during one stretch in the second half and also made a wraparound pass to Clarendon for an easy layup.
It's the third game in a row that Caldwell has scored 14 or more points.