No. 9 Stanford Tops UCLA
STANFORD, Calif. - Nicole Powell and her Stanford teammates think they're just getting started.
Powell scored 24 points and the ninth-ranked Cardinal won the Pac-10 title with a 79-61 victory Saturday over UCLA.
'It's not the same as a regional championship or a national championship, but you have to win your conference to get where you want to go,' said Powell. 'You have to win games and do all the little things. It feels good to get here and win it.'
Kelley Suminski added 20 points as Stanford (22-3, 14-2) won its second straight outright title _ after sharing honors three seasons ago _ and 12th in 17 years.
'I think we're just finding ourselves,' said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. 'I think we've got a lot more to go and ways to improve. It was great to win it at home and give the fans something to celebrate.'
Nikki Blue scored 17 of her 23 points in the second half to lead the Bruins (15-10, 10-6), whose three-game winning streak was snapped. Michelle Greco had 15 of her 18 points in the first half for UCLA.
'I knew they weren't going to want to let us get into the game and feel comfortable,' said Greco.
Powell scored in the final three seconds on Jan. 24 to give Stanford an 80-78 win over the Bruins in Los Angeles and the Cardinal faced an early 15-point deficit against Southern Cal on Thursday.
This time, Stanford never trailed and led by as many as 20 in the first half.
'We weren't happy with our start in the last game so we wanted to come out more aggressively,' said Suminski. 'They have great players but we were ready.'
Stanford improved its career conference mark to 259-45 (.851) in winning its 25th consecutive home game _ the second-longest current streak in Division I. The Cardinal are 326-76 overall at home.
'They're a good basketball team on the road and they're even better at home,' said UCLA coach Kathy Olivier. 'They can spray you from everywhere and score a lot of points in a hurry. They spread you out.'
UCLA outscored the Cardinal 12-4 to open the second half, with Blue making a pair of free throws to pull within 50-41 with 15:42 left.
Blue's jumper closed the gap to 59-53 minutes later, but that was as close as the Bruins would come because Stanford went on an 18-6 run over the next several minutes.
'They were making their run and we had to withstand it,' said Powell. 'We can to refocus ourselves.'
Powell's 3-pointer midway through the first half gave Stanford a 32-12 lead. The Cardinal shot more than 54 percent in the early going and made seven 3-pointers.
The Bruins pulled within 46-29 at halftime.