Stanford runs past UCLA 75-55 to win Pac-12 Tournament for the 14th time
Photos: Pac-12 Conference
Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament
- Quarterfinal: Stanford 92, USC 53
- Semifinal: Stanford 79, Oregon State 45
- Final: Stanford 75, UCLA 55
With a 75-55 win over third-seeded UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament final, top-seeded Stanford (25-2, 20-2 Pac-12) cruised to a 14th conference title Sunday evening in Las Vegas.
Led by hot-shooting senior guard Kiana Williams, the Cardinal capped its dominating run in the tournament with a balanced offensive attack against UCLA (16-5, 12-5). Overall, Stanford beat each opponent in the tournament by an average of 31 points.
Sunday’s game marked the third meeting between UCLA and Stanford this season after they split the regular-season series with the Bruins taking the previous contest 70-66 on Jan. 22.
That provided a vengeance factor for the Cardinal coming into the contest.
“For sure, it was a revenge game for us,” Williams said. “We had to prove to ourselves that we can do the little things, we can box out, rebound, we can execute. I think we took care of business from the tip.”
With a 6-0 start to the game and a 24-11 lead after the first quarter, the Cardinal got off to a fast start against the Bruins.
Williams was well on her way to an outstanding offensive performance with eight points in the first quarter and eight in the second to end the first half in double digits. Stanford shot 48.2% (27-56) in the first half compared to 33.3% (19-57) by UCLA. Bruin senior forward Michaela Onyenwere did the heavy lifting in the first half for the team with 13 points. However, Stanford had the edge at the break 43-20.
The Bruins made up some ground in the third quarter with several players scoring, led by Onyenwere, who put up 9 points in the period. With a 54-40 lead heading into the last period, the Cardinal held off UCLA as the Bruins got within ten early in the quarter. However, as the game came to a close, Stanford finished the last four minutes on a 6-2 run with points from Williams, junior guard Lexie Hull, and sophomore forward Fran Belibi.
Williams, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, finished with 26 points. She set a single-game Pac-12 tournament record of six three-point shots. Her reaction to shooting so well:
“Just confidence. I love coming to the Vegas tournament, the Pac-12 tournament. Tara reminded me how well I shot my freshman year when it was up in Seattle. She just reminded me of those things. That’s given my confidence…my teammates have confidence in me; I know my coaches have confidence in me. I have to have confidence in myself and let it fly.”
Hull was also in double figures with 24 points plus 6 rebounds. Jones added a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Hull and freshman forward Cameron Brink joined Williams on the All-Tournament team.
“It’s a total team effort,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said about having three players honored and her team’s overall effort. “Everyone is excited for everyone’s success, which I think is really special. They’re just a really close group. Today I think we showed some toughness. We needed to against a very, very, very good UCLA team.”
For UCLA, Onyenwere led all scorers with 30 points. She also made the All-Tournament team. Sophomore guard Charisma Osborne was also in double figures for UCLA with 11 points plus 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
UCLA head coach Cori Close, while complimentary to Stanford was also disappointed in her team’s effort.
“I’m a competitor; I want to win,” Close said. “But I’m much more disappointed that we played so below our process and commitment to what we said we were going to do. The lack of urgency, commitment to the game plan, rebounding, I mean, we didn’t do anything in the first half that we said we were going to do. That is the one that really stings. We talk about a lot in our program that you either have the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of pain of regret right now.”
The two teams await their seeding in the NCAA tournament with the selection show for the event set for 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on Monday, Mar. 15, on ESPN. Stanford is projected to be a No. 1 seed based on two NCAA Selection Committee Top 16 reveals.