Stanford Claims Heavyweight Bout
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Cameron Brink pondered for a moment whether this might be her best college game yet.
Rather than answering, she turned to her Hall of Fame coach, Tara VanDerveer, for a little assist.
"I don't know, what do you think? Is it a good game?" Brink asked.
"It's a great game," VanDerveer said. "... Her best game is yet to come. You haven't seen it yet."
Brink dominated in the paint on both ends of the court and finished with 25 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots, leading reigning national champion and No. 2 Stanford past eighth-ranked Arizona 75-69 on Sunday in a long-anticipated rematch of the NCAA title game.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore star raised both arms in joy as the final buzzer sounded.
Sophomore Jana Van Gytenbeek came off the bench and contributed career-bests of six 3-pointers and 18 points as Stanford (16-3, 7-0 Pac-12) remained unbeaten in Pac-12 play with its eighth straight win since falling 65-61 at No. 1 South Carolina on Dec. 21.
"She matched her points all season in one game. There's a lot more coming. This game helped my confidence in her," VanDerveer said. "Jana really made a statement how hard she played, offensively, defensively, knocking down her shot she stretches the defense. It was really exciting for her. We had the 1-2 punch, the inside and outside. I love it."
The timing was perfect given VanDerveer wants to take some pressure off the high minutes played by guards Lacie and Lexie Hull and Anna Wilson.
"I try to work really hard in practice all the time, bring good energy," Van Gytenbeek said. "I'm glad I had this moment and want to use it to build the momentum."
Cate Reese scored 17 points for Arizona, which lost the the NCAA championship game in April 54-53 to the Cardinal in an unprecedented all-Pac-12 final. Stanford captured just the third national title in program history and first since 1992.
Arizona coach Adia Barnes vowed from before this new season started to push her Wildcats to be better from the positive experience, even in losing.
This date had been circled on both teams' calendars since schedules were released with the game as the lone regular-season matchup between the Pac-12 rivals — one of the four teams only faced once during the 18-game conference schedule.
Brink made all three of her shots in the first quarter to go with five rebounds and finished 10 for 12 from the floor on a day Cardinal co-leading scorer Haley Jones struggled at 2 of 12 for four points against the Wildcats' Pac-12 leading scoring defense that allowed 54.6 points per game entering play Sunday.
"Cameron did a really good job of asserting herself and just kind of bulldozing us. I thought we had to be a lot more physical with her," Barnes said. "Jana and Cameron killed us, together over 40 points. That can't happen."
The Cardinal jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead with Lexie Hull hitting the first two baskets of the game but finished the first missing four straight shots with a scoring drought of 2:23 to hold a 17-16 edge.
Shaina Pellington added 16 points, five rebounds and five assists for Arizona.
The Wildcats went the final 3:12 of the third without scoring, missing two field goals, a pair of free throws and committing two turnovers to fall behind 55-46.
Stanford celebrated all-time winningest women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer with a bobblehead for the Hall of Fame coach.
Fans returned to the arena this weekend and clamored for the one-of-a-kind souvenir after about a two-week break allowing spectators to attend aside from friends and family as a precaution with the Bay Area's spike in coronavirus cases.
Arizona: The Wildcats missed earning their second win against a top-10 opponent this season having beaten Louisville in overtime on Nov. 15. ... Arizona was trying to win 16 of its first 18 games for the first time in program history. ... The Wildcats had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Stanford: The Cardinal surrendered 22 points off their 18 turnovers but held a 34-26 rebounding advantage. ... Stanford overcame a slow start from the 3-point line to finish 9 of 19 from deep, largely thanks to Van Gytenbeek's accuracy. ... The Cardinal improved to 5-3 vs. top-25 opponents this season.
Arizona: Host Oregon on Friday night looking to avenge a 68-66 overtime loss to the Ducks in Eugene on Jan. 15.
Stanford: At UCLA on Thursday night.