Saturday, December 14th, 2019

Pac-12 tournament semifinals conclude with Stanford and Cal bringing the Battle of the Bay to Seattle

Published on March 8, 2015

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Cal’s Penina Davidson, Reshanda Gray and Mercedes Jefflo. Photo: Hoopfeed.com.

 

#3 Stanford 59, #2 Arizona State 56

Stanford (23-9, 13-5 Pac-12), winner of 10 of 13 Pac-12 titles, came into the tournament as an underdog to reach the championship game. With No. 1 seed Oregon State and No. 2 seed Arizona (27-5, 15-3) ahead of the Cardinal in the national polls, Stanford faced an unusual situation of not being the consensus favorite to take the championship. However, with their Saturday night 59-56 victory over ASU, the Cardinal proved that they are still indeed a Pac-12 power to be reckoned with as postseason play heats up. The Sun Devils won the regular season series between the two teams. However, Stanford has won four of five tournament games against ASU.

Stanford senior point guard Amber Orrange led the charge with 18 points, holding ASU backcourt sensation Promise Amukamara in check on the defensive end. Amukamara averages 11 points per game but only finished with 7.

“Amber’s playing really well,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer about her senior floor general’s performance against Amukamara. “She’s a very heady guard, really smart, plays with a lot of poise and just makes really good decisions.”

Senior forward Taylor Greenfield had a breakout performance with a career-high 17 points, her fourth time in double figures this year.

“I don’t want to limit myself to being just a tournament player, but I get so excited for tournaments,” said Greenfield. “I was praying that we would get to play ASU again. In general they’re a fun team to play but because we lost to them twice everyone was excited, but I was ready. I was so pumped for this game.”

VanDeerver gushed about the tournament play of both players.

“Amber is just her usual steady self, and I think Taylor just likes tournaments. She played really well yesterday and she played even better today. I told her we’ll need her to play even better tomorrow. I thought Taylor was really aggressive.  She took the ball to the basket.  She helped us on both ends of the floor. She got a big rebound at the end of the game. So I’m really excited for the two seniors that we’re going to be playing in the championship game.”

Stanford led at the half, 29-25 but the lead changed twice after the break. ASU took the lead, 56-55, with 2:19 to play after a 15-3 run. Greenfield came to the rescue for the Cardinal with a jumper after an offensive rebound by freshman Kaylee Johnson.

Less than ten seconds later, on the other end of the court, Johnson swatted a shot that gave her a career high of five in a game. Overall, Stanford’s nine blocks in the contest was a team season high.

“I thought we really showed some great resilience with our team,” said VanDerveer. “We got a lead, we lost the lead a little bit. But to get the lead was great. The people on either side of me did a lot to help that.”

Stanford faces Cal in Sunday’s final at 6 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on ESPN. Nationally–ranked ASU (No. 9 AP/No. 8 USA Today Coaches) is a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament and will most likely host early games in Tempe.

#4 California 68, #9 Colorado 55

Colorado (15-17, 6-12) caused the most buzz in the tournament with their Friday night shocking upset of top-seeded Oregon State. However, Cal (23-8, 13-5) snuffed the Buffs’ momentum with a decisive 68-55 victory in Saturday’s second semifinal of the tournament.

In general, the Bears were simply too powerful and too fast for Colorado. The Buffs came out blazing to take an early 12-3 lead with a balanced effort, getting points from Jasmine Sborov, Lexy Kresl, Jen Reese, Haley Smith and Brecca Thomas but at 11:31 the Bears woke up and turned the tables. It was a tie game by 6:06 and Cal took over, ending the half with a 29-23 lead.

By the second half, Colorado looked like they were running out of steam. The Buffs were still fighting but their stamina and talent could not withstand Cal’s defensive onslaught and running game.

“It was a little bit less energy I would say physically today,” said Colorado senior guard Kresl, “but mentally we were still focused and we were all there.  Our bodies might not have been able to give us as much as we would have wanted in this game, but I think the effort and everybody’s intensity was still there today.”

Cal never let up on the defensive pressure and scored 20 points off of turnovers to Colorado’s five.

“Our defense has been tremendous,” said Bears head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, “and we’re just going to try to get some rest tonight and try to take advantage of an incredible opportunity tomorrow against an obviously well?coached and terrific Stanford team.”

Cal senior point guard Brittany Boyd flirted with a triple-double contributing 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Senior center Reshanda Gray chipped in 17 points plus 10 rebounds and sophomore guard Mercedes Jefflo added 10 points.

Cal will face Stanford for the third time this season in the tournament final. The teams split the Battle of the Bay series last month with Stanford taking the first game and Cal coming back to win the second.

“This is going to be fun. We brought the Bay to Seattle,” said Gray about meeting the Cardinal for the third time this year.

The Bears have appeared in two Pac-12 tournament championship games losing to Stanford both times (2008 and 2012).


 

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