March 10, 2013
SEATTLE (AP) - Chiney Ogwumike got help from her teammates at the right time for Stanford to surge into its familiar place at the Pac-12 Conference tournament - the title game.
Ogwumike scored 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, and No. 4 Stanford reached its 12th Pac-12 Conference tournament title game by pulling away in the second half for a 61-47 win over No. 18 Colorado on Saturday night.
The Cardinal - who have reached the championship game in every year of the tournament - won their 16th straight and will face No. 14 UCLA in Sunday's title game. The Bruins upset No. 5 California 70-58 in Saturday's first semifinal.
''Chiney was a human today. She missed some shots that she has been making all season long,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''But we got some great play, great minutes from Mikaela Ruef, some great play from Amber (Orange) and then different people stepped in.''
Colorado hung with the Cardinal into the second half before Stanford (30-2) took control thanks to a 14-3 run in which Ogwumike got plenty of help. She scored only two points in the run.
Orange finished with 13 points and Ruef scored 11 for Stanford. The Cardinal made just one 3-pointer, but outscored Colorado 22-3 at the free-throw line.
''It was another good moment for our team,'' Ogwumike said. ''Clearly the ball didn't go in the basket as much as we would like, but this is how March is. The game is physical, you have to stay with things and I think that was a big test today.''
Chucky Jeffery led the Buffaloes (25-6) with 19 points, but made just 9 of 26 shots. The Buffaloes shot just 23 percent and committed nine turnovers in the second half after leading at the break. Arielle Roberson added 10 points, but Colorado had its 10-game win streak snapped.
''It hurts because we wanted to win a lot, but I don't think it hurts our confidence a bit,'' Jeffery said. ''Our confidence isn't down. We just have to regroup and be ready for the NCAA tournament.''
Ogwumike had her usual double-double recorded well before halftime, despite missing her first four shots. But the Buffaloes held a 28-27 lead at the break because no one was helping Stanford's star. Ogwumike scored seven straight during one stretch and 13 of her 14 first-half points over the final 10 minutes of the half.
Sara James, who had 17 points in the quarterfinals, was scoreless in the first half. Orange and Joslyn Tinkle combined to make just 3 of 14 shots and the Cardinal shot just 28 percent. They also had just one 3-point attempt after making 10 of 21 in the quarterfinals.
It was the fourth time this season that Stanford trailed at halftime and the first since Jan. 13, when the Cardinal lost to California.
The deficit didn't last long.
Stanford took control early in the second half thanks mostly to Ogwumike's teammates. Colorado took a 33-31 lead on Roberson's rebound and basket with 17:59 remaining, but the Buffaloes went the next 6 minutes with just one basket. Stanford ran off 10 of the next 13 points to take a 41-36 lead, including five points from James and a driving three-point play by Orange. The run continued out of a timeout with Ruef scoring on consecutive possessions and suddenly the Stanford lead was 45-36 with 10:38 remaining.
Jamee Swan briefly stopped the run with an inside basket for Colorado, but Ogwumike scored four straight, including a coast-to-coast steal and layup to push the Cardinal lead to 11.
''I'm just really happy our team responded well to the adversity,'' Ogwumike said.
Stanford swept the season series against the Bruins, beating them by 26 at home and by 11 in Los Angeles. The Cardinal have won the past six conference tournament titles, their last loss coming to UCLA in the 2006 final.
''Playing against UCLA we know they have a very big, very physical team, but we have a big physical team too,'' VanDerveer said. ''I think we match-up well with them and we know we have to play very well.''