NORFOLK, Va. -- When No. 10 California was planning to come east to play No. 4 Duke and looking for another team to play to make the trip worthwhile, coach Lindsay Gottlieb couldn't have settled on a better opponent than Old Dominion.
Playing the hard-nosed, ball-hawking defense that once was their trademark, the Lady Monarchs closed within four with 8½ minutes to play before the Golden Bears regrouped and pulled away for a 63-47 victory Friday night.
"I like our kids' toughness. I liked our kids' resolve," Gottlieb said. "We haven't been in this situation yet. We haven't been on the road. We haven't been tested this much. I thought we responded very well."
Layushia Clarendon scored 15 points and Gennifer Brandon had nine points and 17 rebounds as the Golden Bears survived in a very sloppy road debut that left Gottlieb with plenty to talk about before playing the Blue Devils on Sunday.
Cal outrebounded Old Dominion 66-33, and grabbed 27 offensive rebounds, but turned them into just 19 points. They turned the ball over 25 times, leading to 23 points for the home team, and missed half of their 32 free throw attempts.
No worries, Gottlieb said.
"To be really good, you've got to be able to win any number of ways," she said.
Brittany Boyd added 11 points and Talia Caldwell had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears (6-0).
Old Dominion (4-1), which opened with four wins for the first time since the 1998-99 season, trailed almost throughout, but pulled to 51-47 on a free throw by Galaisha Goodhope with 8:26 to play. The point was part of a long trip downcourt that started with a basket by Shae Kelley, followed by a steal and free throw by Goodhope and then another Old Dominion possession when the ball was knocked out of bounds off the Golden Bears in a scramble.
With a chance to get closer, the Lady Monarchs saw Clarendon steal it for Cal. She made a pair of free throws at the other end, sparking a game-ending 12-0 run that salted away the hard-fought win.
"That was the point where we just really dug in on defense," Clarendon said.
Kelley, a junior college transfer, led Old Dominion with 21 points and seven rebounds. The Lady Monarchs shot a woeful 28 percent (17-60) from the field and missed 13 of 26 free throws, but stayed in it despite the huge rebounding deficit.
"This is a great game to see where we're at," Kelley said. "We can play with any team."
The Golden Bears led 31-20 after a sloppy first half.
Cal used a 9-0 run to break away from an 8-all tie and led the rest of the way. The taller, more athletic Golden Bears could have all but put the game away before halftime because they dominated the backboards, outrebounding ODU 38-18 and grabbing 14 on the offensive end, but they missed repeatedly from in close. They scored 22 points in the paint in the half, but just 10 off second-chance opportunities.
Brandon was especially dominant with 14 first-half rebounds, but made just 3 of 12 shots.
The Lady Monarchs closed to 19-13 with just under seven minutes to play in the opening half, but Brandon had six points in a 12-5 run that rebuilt the Golden Bears' lead to 31-18.
A late basket by Myeisha Hall nudged the Lady Monarchs above 20 percent shooting in the half. They finished 6 for 29 (21 percent), while the Golden Bears were 12 for 33 (36 percent).