Women's Pac-12 championship: Stanford 51, UCLA 49: Sophomore guard steps up for Cardinal

2013-03-11T00:00:00Z Women's Pac-12 championship: Stanford 51, UCLA 49: Sophomore guard steps up for CardinalThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

SEATTLE - The worst scoring game of Chiney Ogwumike's career became proof that No. 4 Stanford goes beyond just its All-American.

Don't forget about Amber Orrange when the NCAA tournament comes around. Stanford's sophomore guard showed she can carry the Cardinal by herself.

"I knew the day was coming when things would be really hard for me and I really hoped it wouldn't be the Pac-12 championship, but it was," Ogwumike said. "I think it just shows that we have a lot of players on our team."

Orrange capped a career-high 20-point performance by scoring on a spinning drive with 8.3 seconds left, and No. 4 Stanford won its seventh straight Pac-12 tournament title by rallying past No. 14 UCLA 51-49 on Sunday night.

Orrange scored 10 of Stanford's final 12 points as the teams exchanged the lead seven times in the second half. Orrange's drive pulled Stanford even at 47 with 1:38 left. Mikaela Ruef's basket with 50 seconds left gave the Cardinal the lead and, after Markel Walker scored for UCLA, Orrange spun through two defenders for the winning score.

It's a shot she practices regularly and executed with perfection to all but assure the Cardinal of yet another No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Perhaps more importantly, Stanford passed a gritty, possibly needed test before the NCAAs arrive.

"Our team had to grit it out and quite honestly we haven't had to do that a lot during this year," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We learned a lot about ourselves. I think we'll just be better because of this experience."

Orrange shot 9 of 15 overall, including 7 of 11 in the second half, and was the only Stanford player in double figures, making up for a night when Ogwumike was held to a career-low three points and missed eight of nine shots. Orrange never left the floor in the second half, playing all 20 minutes and coming up with one key play after another.

"I was just thinking, I want to win. I want to win. I'll do whatever it takes,'" Orrange said. "I just looked for opportunities to take chances on plays on offense and defense and luckily it worked out."

Ogwumike's struggles were stunning after two memorable performances to open the conference tournament. She had 48 points and 40 rebounds combined in the first two games, yet was a complete non-factor offensively Sunday. She failed to score for the final 38 minutes after hitting a free throw with 18:07 left in the first half. Wherever Ogwumike roamed around the paint, she was surrounded by two or three UCLA defenders.

It was a perfect game plan executed by UCLA that almost ended the Cardinal's run atop the conference tournament. Walker led UCLA (25-7) with 16 points. The Bruins lost to Stanford in the title game for the third time in four seasons.

"We're hurting right now. My heart just hurts for our seniors," UCLA coach Cori Close said.

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