March 13, 2011 in Sports

Stanford rallies past UCLA for Pac-10 women’s championship

 
Associated Press photo

Stanford’s bench reacts as the Cardinal pull ahead of UCLA during the late stages of Saturday’s game.
(Full-size photo)

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 minutes, 17 seconds to rally the second-ranked Cardinal past the No. 7 Bruins 64-55 at Los Angeles on 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 conference tourney title game, with Stanford owning a 2-1 edge.

WAC tournament

Fresno State 78, Louisiana Tech 76: At Las Vegas, Bree Farley hit a turnaround with less than 1 second left and Jaleesa Ross scored 17 of her 23 points in the second half, helping the Bulldogs (25-7) beat the Lady Techsters (24-7) and reach the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year.

Fresno State lost to the Lady Techsters in last year’s Western Athletic Conference title game and again in a pair of overtime games during the regular season. The Bulldogs ended the string by withstanding a huge run to open the second half and getting one big shot from Farley, a freshman reserve who averages 4.6 points.

Louisiana Tech rallied late after falling behind by six, tying it 76-all on Whitney Jones’ stepback 3-pointer with 4 seconds left. Even after failing to stop Farley, the Lady Techsters should have a good enough resume to reach the NCAA tournament for the 27th time.

Big Sky tournament

Montana 62, Portland State 58: Stephanie Stender and Kenzie De Boer scored 11 points apiece to lead the Grizzlies (18-14) over the top-seeded Vikings (20-11) in the championship game at Portland.

Sarah Ena added 10 points as fourth-seeded Montana earned its third trip to the NCAA tournament in four years. Stender was named the tournament’s MVP.

Montana held Portland State scoreless over a 61/2-minute stretch late in the second half and forced the Vikings into 5-for-22 shooting from 3-point range. Portland State was ahead 52-46 with just more than 8 minutes to play but missed its next nine shots and didn’t score again until 1:32 remained.

Eryn Jones scored 19 points and Kelli Valentine (Mead High) added 14 for the Vikings, who lost for the first time this season against a conference opponent.


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