No. 19 UCLA races past No. 6 Stanford, reaches Pac-12 final
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Freshman Kiki Rice scored a career-best 22 points and No. 19 UCLA shocked No. 6 Stanford 69-65 Friday night to advance to the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Rice finished 12 of 13 from the free-throw line, including 5 of 6 down the stretch to send the Bruins to the title game Sunday against Washington State, a 61-49 winner over No. 20 Colorado in the second semifinal.
Emily Bessoir scored 14 points, Charisma Osborne added 13 and Gina Conti 11 for UCLA (25-8), which erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit.
Cameron Brink had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Cardinal (28-5). Haley Jones finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
It marked just the second time UCLA beat Stanford in 13 meetings in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins, who will be making their seventh title-game appearance, become just the second No. 5 seed to reach the tournament final.
The Bruins used a 20-9 run to take a one-point lead, 60-59, after Jones was called for an offensive shove at one end of the floor and Rice buried a jumper just inside the 3-point stripe at the other end with 2:07 left in the game.
“I feel like the energy and effort that we really played with starting off the second half, that’s what really allowed us to go on that run,” Rice said. “We knew we really just needed to come together, play hard and it all ended up working out for us.”
The Cardinal (28-5) actually had a chance when Rice missed the back end of two free throws with 21 seconds left with the Bruins leading by two. But, Conti grabbed the rebound, drew a foul, and made two free throws to extend the UCLA lead to four.
“We really just didn’t do what we needed to do in the second half,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I thought we had a really good first half. But compliment UCLA. They stepped up big. They were aggressive. They got on the boards. We had opportunities down the stretch and just didn’t come up with the ball.”
Stanford darted out to a 9-2 lead to open the game, but the Bruins answered quickly with a 6-2 run. After a timeout, however, the Cardinal used a 6-0 run to close things out, as UCLA failed to score over the final 5:15 of the quarter. The Bruins made just three field goals, but committed five turnovers in the opening quarter.
UCLA managed to cut the deficit to five early in the second quarter, but Stanford’s stringent defense limited the Bruins offensively the rest of the half. As the Cardinal closed the half on a 13-5 run, the Bruins missed nine of their last 11 shots in the quarter.
UCLA hit just 8 of 30 (26.7%) in the first half, including 3 of 14 (21.4%) from 3-point range, while Stanford finished with 15-of-31 shooting (48.4%) in the first two quarters.
“In the first half, we were tough, but we weren’t totally together; not because we didn’t want to be, but because we just wanted to make a play to fix it,” UCLA coach Cori Close said.
Bessoir came in averaging 9.2 points and had scored in double figures in 14 of 30 regular-season games. The redshirt sophomore from Germany scored in double figures for the third time in the tournament and is averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in the three games.
The Cardinal came into the game 73-6 over the past two seasons when Hannah Jump made just one 3-pointer. Jump, who had made at least one 3-pointer in all but three games this season, was held scoreless after going 0 for 4 from the floor, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range. It was just the second time she was held scoreless this season, the first also against UCLA on Feb. 20.
UCLA: After shooting 31.1% (14 of 45) in the first three quarters, the Bruins hit 7 of 13 (53.8%) in the fourth quarter.
Stanford: The Cardinal had their seven-game Pac-12 Tournament win streak snapped. Stanford was seeking its third straight tournament title.
UCLA: Will face Washington State on Sunday in the final.
Stanford: Awaits an NCAA bid.