Stanford beats Oregon to win Pac-12 Tournament title
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Stanford got a measure of revenge en route to winning another Pac-12 Tournament title.
DiJonai Carrington scored 22 points, and the seventh-ranked Cardinal erased some unpleasant recent history against No. 6 Oregon, beating the Ducks 64-57 on Sunday night.
For the Cardinal, it was their 13th championship of the 18 Pac-12 tournaments. Stanford lost to Oregon last season in the title game, and the Cardinal also were routed by 40 points a month ago by the Ducks — the worst defeat in Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer’s career.
“I think that was something that we had in our minds ever since we lost that game,” said Stanford’s Alanna Smith, who earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament. “When you take a loss like that, you have no choice but to learn from it. We were happy we got to play Oregon today. We wanted another chance at them.”
With the game tied at 51, Carrington made a layup, then stole the ball and drove the length of the court for another lay-in. After Ruthy Hebard made a free throw to get Oregon within 55-52, Kiana Williams hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give the Cardinal their biggest lead of the fourth quarter to that point.
Sabrina Ionescu, who led Oregon with 27 points and 12 rebounds, ended a four-minute field goal drought with a jumper with 1:14 left. She was the only Oregon player to hit a basket for the Ducks in the final eight minutes.
Stanford made all six of its free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. As the final seconds ticked off, the Cardinal players ran to half-court to celebrate.
“The competition we played day in and day out prepared us for today’s game,” VanDerveer said. “We won with our defense. We came in as the top-ranked defensive team in the Pac-12 and people locked in defensively.”
Smith added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Cardinal.
VanDerveer said after Stanford beat Washington in the semifinals on Saturday night that her team didn’t play well offensively against the Ducks in the meeting last month and that they would “battle and play their game” this time.
Stanford (28-4) gave Oregon everything it could handle early on. The Cardinal built a 14-point lead early in the third quarter. It was the largest deficit the Ducks had faced this season. But then the offense went cold and the Ducks (29-4) scored 10 straight points at the start of an 18-3 run and took their first lead of the game on two free throws by Ionescu with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
The teams traded the lead in the fourth before Carrington took over with 4:02 left.
“I’m a little disappointed with our execution early in the fourth quarter,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “This is the time we normally shine. It doesn’t derail our goals of doing well in the NCAA Tournament and going a long way. We feel bad now and hopefully will learn from this and go forward.”
Stanford got off to a quick start and led 33-24 at the half behind 14 points from Carrington and seven points and nine rebounds from Smith. Ionescu was only bright spot on offense for the Ducks as she had 13 points.
“Honestly we didn’t come out and have any fire and they came out and they really wanted to beat us and we were on our heels most of the game,” Ionescu said. “We didn’t fight back hard enough and long enough to win this game.”
Oregon’s 57 points were a season low — five fewer than its previous worst.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Smith said. “It was a whole team effort.”
This was the ninth meeting of the top two seeds in the Pac-12 Tournament. The top seed is 7-2. Stanford now has the only two wins by the two-seed, having beaten Oregon State two years ago. ... Stanford is 45-5 in Pac-12 Tournament games.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Cardinal senior center Shannon Coffee joined the Stanford Dollies and the band to provide a sign-language interpretation of the national anthem. Coffee is in her fifth quarter of American Sign Language. She’s been doing it since the team played at UCLA on Feb. 15. The band has been doing it for years.
Stanford: Will most likely host a first-round NCAA Tournament game.
Oregon: Also should begin the tournament at home.