Michelle Smith Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Semifinal Recap - Stanford rolls to the title game
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - It can literally be said now that Stanford has made an impressive run to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game.
Adopting a sprinter’s mentality in the first half, the Cardinal race up and down the court in transition, relying on their depth, balance and the play of freshman post Cameron Brink to punch a ticket to their 17th championship game with a 75-49 win over fifth-seeded Oregon State Friday night at Michelob Ultra Arena.
The Beavers (11-7) ran into something of a buzz saw in the top-seeded Cardinal after winning eight of nine games, including three wins against ranked opponents in four games and presumably ensuring their spot in the NCAA brackets.
But Stanford, who will face the winner of the late-game between UCLA and Arizona in pursuit of its 14th Pac-12 Tournament title in 20 years, would not let there be another upset.
The Cardinal held Oregon State to 31 percent shooting from the floor and 23.1 percent from the three-point line, a place that the Beavers knew they were going to need to excel to win this game.
Stanford (24-2) battled its own through cold perimeter shooting early by clamping down defensively on the Beavers, pushing pace in transition and going on a 20-3 run bridging the first and second quarter that had OSU playing from behind the rest of the way.
The Cardinal outscored Oregon State in transition 14-0 in the first half and they built a lead they would not relinquish.
Brink finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Senior Kiana Williams ended up with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. Lexie Hull ended up with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Aleah Goodman was OSU’s only scorer in double figures as a third game in three days took its toll on the Beavers, which was clearly Stanford’s gameplan.
“When you tire people out you can take their legs away and they don't shoot the ball as well,” said Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer. “So, our running and defense contributed to our success.”
Oregon State coach Scott Rueck, who said that he believes Stanford is the most complete team in the country, agreed that his team was worn down by Stanford’s pace, despite his team’s intention to shut down the Cardinal in transition.
“Yeah, I think we were,” Rueck said. “That pace is very hard to replicate in practice and they are a difficult team to prepare for in 30 hours. It’s hard to imagine a team playing with the precision they do at the speed they do. They made us pay for everything.”
Thanks to a big night from Brink, the Cardinal outscored OSU 36-16 in the paint and scored 18 points off of Beaver turnovers.
VanDerveer said that Brink has never really played like a freshman this season and she certainly didn’t on Friday night.
“First of all, she has great hands. She really understands the game. She listens. She's been
working on counter moves, which she did today, which was really exciting to see,” VanDerveer said. “So she's not just doing her thing and getting frustrated when someone takes that away. She's got something else. Her outside shot, her 3 -- I thought in the beginning, ‘just be a little more patient’, but I liked how aggressive she was. She brings great emotion. What wasn't to like? It was very exciting to see her step up on the big stage and play so well.”
Brink said she feels like she is finally adapting to the pace that the Cardinal play.
“It took me a while to adjust,” Brink said. “I think I did OK tonight.”
Stanford, who is 49-6 all time in the Pac-12 Tournament, has won 13 straight by a margin of 25.9 points per game.