Stanford Tops USC for Third Straight Pac-10 Tournament Title

March 15, 2009

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Stanford found a point guard this season in Jeanette Pohlen. Add a deep bench and improving young players that helped the Cardinal handily win the Pac-10 title, and coach Tara VanDerveer she has a team that can make a long run in the NCAA tournament.

Kayla Pedersen had a season-high 25 points and nine rebounds as No. 2 Stanford defeated Southern California 89-64 to win its sixth overall and second consecutive Pac-10 title Sunday.

Pedersen, a sophomore, finished 10-for-18 from the field for the Cardinal (29-4), who head into the NCAA tournament with a 16-game winning streak. Nnemkadi Ogwumike, a freshman, had 14 and Pohlen, a sophomore, added 10 for Stanford.

'I think we have to be one of the most improved teams in America,' VanDerveer said. 'When we look at the beginning of our season, we played very tough teams on the road with our point guard situation in flux. Jeanette has really improved so much, Kayla was moving to the three, Nnemkadi was a freshman. We're excited and we'll be ready to play.'

They should.

The Cardinal dominated the tournament, winning each game by at least 25 points.

Stanford earned an automatic bid into the tournament. VanDerveer doesn't care where the Cardinal play and won't know whether the team is a No. 1 seed until Monday.

'Our team is playing with a lot of confidence,' she said. 'We have room to improve but we're excited and ready to play wherever we're set.'

Against USC, the Cardinal keyed on point guard Camille LeNoir, who finished with 13 points.

Jillian Harmon, a senior, was given that task.

'I just worked really hard to keep her in front,' Harmon said.

Harmon helped hold the point guard scoreless in the first half on 0-for-6 shooting.

When LeNoir did get to the rim, Stanford's post players doubled her and her layups didn't go in.

'They were clogging the middle,' LeNoir said. 'It was tough for me to weave in and out of there. Their defensive plan was great.'

USC (17-15) had some success in the post behind Kari LaPlante's 10 points. But the sophomore got into foul trouble and had to sit for parts of the second. The Trojans couldn't find someone to match up against Stanford's bigs and when LaPlante came back in, Stanford didn't allow her to get many touches.

'I think getting into foul trouble hurt, having to come out and back in,' said LaPlante, who added 12 points. 'They are just big girls in there and I was having a tough time posting them up. It just didn't come.'

Stanford's post play was tested in the first. Center Jayne Appel didn't score in the first half.

The Cardinal went on a 21-1 run midway through the half, led by Appel. The Pac-10 player of the year had 12 pointsin the second, including six points during that spurt. Pohlen, Lindy La Rocque and Pedersen added 3s to help Stanford take a 34-point lead with 8:47 remaining.

Appel took a seat after that.

Freshman Sarah Boothe came off the bench to score eight and Pedersen did the rest.

'It's good to know that we totally don't have to depend on Jayne,' VanDerveer said. 'She gets a lot of attention and she's very unselfish, but this was not the best we've seen her play and other people could pick it up for her.'

The Trojans' mistakes didn't help and Stanford took advantage, scoring 28 off of turnovers. USC also failed to get production from beyond the arc, something they used to take down No. 12 California on Saturday.

'Kayla and Jeanette played lockdown defense on their wings,' VanDerveer said. 'We didn't want them shooting a lot of 3s. They're an excellent 3-point shooting team.'

Not on Sunday. USC had six and its top 3-point shooters went 2-for-8 from behind the arc. Brynn Cameron was 0-for-3 from deep.

'They're long defensively and it was hard to get our shots off,' USC coach Mark Trakh said. 'They were focused on Camille, Ollie and Brynn, but I'm proud of the kids.'

The Trojans scored sparingly in the first half and only put together a late 11-4 run to get within five. LaPlante started the run with a basket in the paint and Heather Oliver sank a 3-pointer from the left side of the key with a minute remaining to make it 29-24.

But Pohlen weaved through players and scored a layup with two seconds remaining to give Stanford a 33-24 halftime lead.

The Cardinal had two big scoring runs in the first and Pedersen had nine points.

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