SEATTLE, Wash. – For the first time in the 13-year history of the Pac-12 Tournament, Stanford will not play in the championship final, as fifth-seeded USC stunned the Cardinal with a late run for a 72-68 win.
The Trojans (21-12) overcame Chiney Ogwumike’s 30-point, 21-rebound performance and spoiled the Cardinal standout’s historic moment in drawing even with Candice Wiggins atop the Pac-12’s career-scoring list at 2,629 points.
Stanford (29-3) had battled its way back from a pair of 10-point deficits in the second half, using a 20-7 run over a span of just under six minutes to turn a 50-40 hole into a 60-57 lead after a pair of free throws from Lili Thompson, who finished with 11 points, with 5:06 to play. Ogwumike began the run with a three-point play and scored 11 of the 20 Cardinal points, while Thompson added the final four.
But the Cardinal went just 2-for-11 from the field the rest of the way, and USC’s Cassie Harberts scored 10 of her 13 points on the night over a stretch of just under two minutes, putting the Trojans ahead 67-60 with 1:23 to play. Stanford began to foul, and USC missed key free throws which allowed the Cardinal to pull to within three at 71-68 with possession, but Ogwumike’s desperation 3-point attempt with three seconds left fell short.
The Trojans had prevented Stanford from going on a decisive run late in the first half as well. Two straight triples from Thompson and Taylor Greenfield gave the Cardinal its largest lead of the game at 30-24 3:13 before halftime, but USC’s Ariya Crook hit a pair of triples on consecutive trips down to knot things up. Crook ended the night with 15 points, while Alexyz Vaioletama led the Trojans with 19 points and 15 rebounds while hitting three of her five attempts from long range.
USC was able to build its 10-point lead over the second half’s opening 10 minutes as the Cardinal opened the half 2-for-15 from the field. Stanford would end the game shooting 31.9 percent, its lowest single-game mark this season.Stanford, in line for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament set to begin in two weeks, will await the revealing of its path to the 2014 Final Four in Nashville on the NCAA Selection Show set for Monday, March 17.