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Stanford rallies to dethrone OSU; captures staggering 12th tourney title

During the regular season, Oregon State won both games against Stanford and looked to do the same Sunday night in the Pac-12 championship. The Cardinal used a strong defensive effort to hold the Beavers in single digit scoring in all but one period. Stanford’s Erica McCall earned the honor of the Pac-12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Oregon State vs Stanford Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle, WA — With 7:28 left in the game, Stanford secured their first lead thanks to a layup by Alanna Smith -- and they never looked back. With a score of 38-36, the Cardinal's pressure defense held back a Beaver resurgence and ended another hard fought PAC-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The No. 2 seed Stanford (27-5, 15-3) defeated the No. 1 seed Oregon State (29-3, 16-2) for their 12th PAC-12 Tournament Championship. A record crowd for a Tournament championship game filled KeyArena Sunday tonight to watch the Stanford Cardinal win a hard fought game over the Oregon State Beavers, 48-43 making Stanford the first No. 2 seed to win the tournament championship.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty,” stated Stanford’s head coach Tara VanDerveer on the game.

After winning their first tournament last year, Oregon State sought to defend their title this year. The Beavers started out on fire immediately putting up 22 points in the first quarter. Mikayla Pivec had two successful three-point shots within the first five minutes, and it looked like nothing could stop them. They went on to close the first stanza up, 22-12.

However, the strong first quarter gave way to a stagnant offense in the following quarters where the Beavers struggled to score, only posting seven points in each of the periods. While the Cardinal didn’t go big runs, they were able to score in double-digits each period.

Both teams found themselves forced into half court sets, with a small advantage to Oregon State in fast break points (4-2).

Stanford relied on a committee of scorers to get back in the game and take the lead. Twenty points were scored from the Cardinal’s bench – almost all coming from Smith who led the team with 18 points on 6-14 shooting.

The Beavers had a rough night, and their struggles to keep pace were highlighted by lacking in guard depth vis-à-vis defensive specialist Katie McWilliams per coach Rueck: “Katie’s become one of our best guard defenders, and against this team, you need that. You need that size and that length and that experience.”

A failure to operate in the crunch gave the Beavers a shot to tie the game in the dwindling moments after a Stanford shot clock violation resulted in a key turnover. Unfortunately for Oregon State, an almost immediate turnover by Breanna Brown gave the ball back to Stanford who extended the lead to its final score of 48-43.

Oregon State’s Sydney Wiese and Gabriella Hanson both made their way off the court with their heads down after a deflating final three periods, plus a 10-point lead that evaporated quickly. The Beavers hopes of winning back to back tournament titles was halted by the grit of Stanford.

The Cardinal is the only team in the Pac-12 to have won more than one tournament championship title and Sunday night their dynasty was further solidified as an elite program by winning its 12th conference tournament.

This win secures Stanford’s spot in the NCAA tournament, where the Beavers are also expected to compete. If tonight’s game was any indication, the PAC-12 has become a breeding ground for hard-nosed basketball unlike anything else being played in the nation.

Following the game, All-Tournament accolades were awarded. The championship game had three members make the team: Stanford’s own Erica McCall was named the Most Outstanding Player and Smith joined her, while Wiese’s performance during the tournament also put her on the list for Oregon State.