Despite a late charge from UCLA, No. 19 Stanford women’s basketball (22-9, 13-5 Pac-12) came out with a 67-62 win to move on to the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, where they will look to beat ASU for the first time this season.
A stellar second-half performance from senior point guard Amber Orrange coupled with strong first halves from sophomore guard Lili Thompson and sophomore forward Erica McCall kept the Card up by a decent amount for over 37 minutes of the game.
The Card earned two 12-point leads that they saw the Bruins chip away: UCLA scored seven unanswered points to close out the first half, putting them within five, while midway through the second-half Stanford’s 53-41 lead evaporated after a 15-3 run by the Bruins that tied the game.
Although the Card gained a little wiggle room, bringing their lead back up to five, the Bruins scored twice in a row to pull within one point. After Stanford successfully inbounded the ball, UCLA was forced to foul. A pair of Bonnie Samuelson free-throws followed by a missed Bruins three-pointer with four seconds left ensured a Stanford victory.
Stanford will face the second-seeded ASU and for the first time in the Pac-12 tournament will play as the lower-seeded team.
Despite losing to the Sun Devils twice earlier this season, the Card know they have the tools to win the game. In the first matchup of the year, Stanford nearly overcame a 17-point halftime deficit but could not make the plays it needed down the stretch to pull ahead. In the second game, Stanford relinquished a 12-point lead and was only down by one point with 4:35 left, but was unable to score for the rest of the game.
Regardless of how the regular season played out, tournament play is a completely different beast, a new season as many people say, in which the results of the regular season may very well bear no semblance to what is to come. So despite a lower seeding and two previous losses to the Sun Devils, the Card are more than capable to beat ASU.
“This is the first time that I can remember that we will be wearing a dark uniform in the Pac-12 Tournament, that we’re the underdog and I like it,” head coach VanDerveer said. “I have a lot of confidence in our team. We just have to come out with a lot of intensity and a lot of focus, and when we have done that, we’ve done very well.”
Stanford will look to upset and finally get revenge on Arizona State Saturday, March 7 at 6pm at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.