UCLA guard Kiki Rice (1) drives to the basket under pressure from Stanford guard Haley Jones (30) during the first half at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas on Fri Mar 3, 2023 at the Pac 12 Tournament (AP News photo)
By Daniel Dullum
Thursday, March 2, 2023
In a Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament that has already seen its share of upsets, UCLA pulled off the latest one on Friday. The 19th-ranked Bruins used a furious second half to overtake No. 6 Stanford 69-65 in the semifinal round at Las Vegas.
It was only the second time in program history that Stanford lost a semifinal game in the Pac-12 tournament. UCLA becomes the first 5-seed to reach the title game.
Kiki Rice led the Bruins (25-8) with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists in addition to hitting 12 of 13 free throws. Emily Bessoir was next with 14 points and six rebounds, Charisma Osborne had 12 points followed by Gina Conti with 11 points, including 3 of 6 3-pointers.
Cameron Brink was the top scorer for Stanford (28-5) with 19 points to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks. Haley Jones was next with 15 points, 10 boards, three assists and two blocks. Hannah Jump and Francesca Belibi each contributed three assists.
Stanford led 17-8 after the first quarter and built a 35-22 halftime advantage. The Bruins erased a 16-point deficit in the second half, outscoring the Cardinal 29-15 in the fourth quarter.
UCLA used a 20-9 run to surge ahead 60-59 after Jones was called for a shoving foul which led to a Rice jumper with 2:07 remaining, Stanford had a chance to tie or take the lead after Rice missed the second of two free throws with 21 seconds to play and the Bruins leading by two. But Conti got the rebound, was fouled and hit two free throws to give UCLA a four-point lead.
The Bruins move on to the championship game on Sunday, facing Washington State, which has defeated No. 3 Utah and No, 20 Colorado in the tourney. Stanford now waits to see where they will be seeded in the NCAA tournament.