No. 12 Stanford Wins Pac-10 Championship!
March 9, 2004
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Tara VanDerveer knows it's not often herStanford team will win shooting 31 percent and getting outrebounded by 12.
The 18th-year Cardinal coach had one explanation after it happened.
'That was a really strange game,' she said.
Nicole Powell made all six of her free throws in the final 2:22 on theway to 24 points to lead No. 12 Stanford to a 51-46 comeback win overArizona in the Pac-10 tournament championship game Monday night.
Susan Borchardt added 11 points with three 3-pointers as top-seededStanford (24-6) earned an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by endingArizona's six-game winning streak. The Cardinal rallied from 16 points downto win their second straight tournament title and also came from behind tobeat UCLA a night earlier.
'We came out and they seemed to hit everything they were shooting,'VanDerveer said. 'And we looked frantic. I don't look at the score whenit's that bad. We owe our Pac-10 championship to our zone defense.'
That defense held second-seeded Arizona (24-8) to its lowest offensiveoutput in nine seasons, scoring just 15 points in an ugly second half, andthe Cardinal scored their fewest points in a victory this season.
Powell struggled offensively for much of the game but outplayed starArizona center Shawntinice Polk in crunch time to earn tournament MVPhonors.
Polk, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who was Pac-10 freshman of the year lastseason, grabbed 18 rebounds, one off her career high and two shy of thetournament record.
The Wildcats, who were 6-of-26 in the second half, are still a lock foran NCAA berth. They were still upset about letting this one get away.
'With a team like Stanford, you can't be comfortable with a 16-pointlead,' Arizona guard Aimee Grzyb said. 'We've seen it on TV many times whenthey've come back.'
Polk played another smart game to stay out of foul trouble. She fouledout of seven games this season.
She altered shots and dominated the middle all tournament, but missedtwo free throws with 1:28 remaining and another with 42.4 to play.
Dee-Dee Wheeler had 12 points with a key 3-pointer late and wasArizona's only player to score in double figures.
After Borchardt made a 3-pointer with 6 minutes left, Kelley Suminskiconverted a three-point play 59 seconds later to pull the Cardinal within42-41. Sebnem Kimyacioglu then swished a 3 from the left wing - her onlybasket and only shot - at 3:51 for Stanford's first lead of the game,44-42.
Powell scored Stanford's first six points of the second half and theCardinal pulled within 35-34 on Suminski's 3-pointer at 13:40, but thenwent without a field goal for 7:40.
'None of us panicked. We knew we'd come around and play the way weplayed all season,' Suminski said.
VanDerveer hinted after Stanford's semifinal win over UCLA that maybeby playing zone against the Bruins her team would have more energy in thetitle game. They didn't seem to tire in the second half.
'The first half, we played loose and we played confident,' Arizonacoach Joan Bonvicini said. 'We were able to go inside and we were able toshoot outside and control the tempo. When they went to a zone, we were alittle hesitant. It was really some decision making.'
When Stanford collapsed three players on Polk late in the first half,Polk flipped the ball to Grzyb for a 3-pointer during a 12-2 Arizona spurt.
The teams split their regular-season meetings and shared the Pac-10title after both went 14-4 in conference play. But Stanford earned thehigher seed based on a complicated tiebreaker - which came down to Arizonasplitting the season series with UCLA and Stanford sweeping the Bruins.
Borchardt, playing with her right knee wrapped after straining itduring Saturday's 80-55 win over California, scored the final eight pointsof the half to pull the Cardinal within 31-23 at the break.
Stanford effectively switched to a zone defense to disrupt Arizona'soffensive flow, holding the Wildcats scoreless over the last 4:39.
Polk already had six rebounds in the first 5ï¿½ minutes and Stanfordmissed eight easy lay-ins and four other shots from close range in its31-percent first half (10-for-32) to fall behind by as many as 16.
At one point, the stat sheet read: Arizona 17, Nicole Powell 8.Stanford began the game 4-for-14 - with Powell going 4-of-6 - and didn'tget points from anyone other than Powell until Chelsea Trotter's shortjumper at 10:21.