March 12, 2011
Final Stats |
LOS ANGELES (AP)
|Stanford forward Joslyn Tinkle looks for the pass as UCLA guard/forward Atonye Nyingifa guards her tight.|
- Stanford found itself in a rare hole against UCLA, needing an offensive burst to get back in the game. Toni Kokenis
delivered in the clutch.
The freshman from suburban Chicago scored 10 of her career-high 17 points in the final 5:17 to rally the second-ranked Cardinal past the No. 7 Bruins 64-55 Saturday for their sixth straight Pac-10 tournament championship.
"It all started on defense. Great plays by my teammates who tipped the ball out, and I was just in the right place at the right time and was able to finish," Kokenis said. "We passed the ball really well on offense and I got some open shots and was able to knock them down."
The top-seeded Cardinal (29-2) won their 57th consecutive game against a league opponent, tying Liberty of the Big South for fifth on the career list. It was Stanford's 23rd straight overall win.
"They had us on the ropes and we had to really battle to come back," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "This game will help us a lot."
Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 15 points and Kayla Pedersen had 12 in the Cardinal's 11th straight win against the second-seeded Bruins. Ogwumike and her sister Chiney, who combined for 53 of Stanford's 100 points in a semifinal win over Arizona, didn't have it as easy inside.
It was Stanford's ninth overall league tourney title, to go with its regular season championship in which the Cardinal went 18-0.
Doreena Campbell scored 16 points, and Darxia Morris and Markel Walker had 12 each for UCLA (27-4), which got swept by Stanford in the regular season. It was the teams' third meeting in the league tourney title game, with Stanford owning a 2-1 edge.
But the Cardinal had it much tougher this time.
UCLA stretched its lead to 11 points three times early in the second half, the last on a basket by Morris.
"It's very unusual that we are in that spot," Pedersen said. "I don't think that any of us panicked though. It was more of a challenge how are we going to get out of it, how are we going to fight back?"
Jeanette Pohlen hit two straight 3-pointers, Kokenis stripped the ball from Campbell and scored on a fast break layup, then got fouled and made the first of two free throws to draw the Cardinal to 40-38.
Campbell turned the ball over twice and Dixon was called for traveling on three straight UCLA possessions. The Bruins scored four in a row to go back up six.
That's when Stanford put together a 17-2 spurt, with Kokenis scoring 10 in a row, that gave the Cardinal the lead for good, 57-48.
"We definitely needed that run because they were taking away a lot of the things that we're good at," Ogwumike said. "They were packing it inside and she opened things up for us. I was excited to see how much she was bringing to the court."
Kokenis, an honorable mention on the league's all-freshman team, hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the left corner in the run. The second one took its time going down.
"That definitely bounced around like five or six times. It felt like forever and I was waiting for it to roll out," she said. "But it was kind of nice to get a friendly roll."
The Bruins closed the first half with an 18-3 run to lead 30-21. They ran off 13 in a row, including five by Morris, before Walker's 3-pointer capped the scoring.
The Cardinal committed most of their 11 turnovers--leading to 14 points by the Bruins--during UCLA's spurt after owning an 18-13 lead at the outset. UCLA missed 17 of its first 20 shots before rallying.
"This group did an amazing job pretty much for 32, 33 minutes of the game and then there was the run and you knew it was coming," UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell said. "We couldn't go deep in our bench and that hurt us a little bit."