For the first time since the old Pac-10 launched its women’s basketball tournament in 2002, the Stanford Cardinal won’t play for the championship.
The top-seeded Cardinal were upset in the semifinals at Key Arena in Seattle Saturday night, dropping a 72-68 decision to the USC Trojans, the tournament’s No. 5 seed.
Chiney Ogwumike missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds left and the Trojans were able to advance to the tournament final for the first time since 2009.
For the Cardinal, ranked No. 4 in the nation, the loss could wind up costing them a top seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The game was tight throughout, but the Trojans (21-12) took control with a late 10-0 run. USC trailed 60-57 with 5:06 remaining and after a two-minute scoreless stretch, the Trojans tied the game on Cassie Harberts’ three-point play with 3:03 left.
Harberts wasn’t done. She scored the next seven points in the game, including another three-point play with 1:23 to go that put the Trojans up 67-60.
Amber Orrange scored four straight points on a pair of free throws and a driving layup and Lili Thompson canned a jumper with 29 seconds left that made cut USC’s lead to 68-66. After Ariya Crook made two free throws for the Trojans, Orrange was fouled and made a pair of free throws. Brianna Barrett missed the second of her two shots for USC, giving the Cardinal a chance to tie, but Ogwumike’s 3-pointer was off the mark.
Neither team shot the ball well—USC shot just 39.1 percent while the Cardinal (29-3) were held to 31.9 percent shooting—but the Trojans hit 8-of-16 from 3-point range and that made the difference as Stanford was just 4-of-14 from distance.
Alexyz Vaioletama had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Trojans, Crook added 15 points and Harberts scored 13—10 of them in the fateful 10-0 run late in the game.
Ogwumike finished with 30 points, 21 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Cardinal, but was just 11-for-24 from the floor. Thompson had 13 points and four assists and Orrange scored 11 points.
Stanford out-rebounded USC 51-46 and both teams took good care of the ball—the Trojans had seven turnovers while the Cardinal committed only eight.
Stanford will now wait to find out where they will be opening the NCAA tournament, with Selection Monday set for March 17.