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Recap: Led by its stars, No. 2 Stanford cruises past Utah in Pac-12 championship game

Haley Jones, Cameron Brink and Lexie Hull all came to play for the Stanford Cardinal, who pulled away from the Utah Utes in the second half.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament Championship-Utah vs Stanford
2021 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Haley Jones
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the score was tied at 32 fifty five seconds into the third, the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal closed the game on a 41-16 run to defeat the Utah Utes 73-48 and claim their 15th Pac-12 Tournament championship Sunday at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

It was also the second consecutive tournament title for the defending national champion Cardinal, who went undefeated in the Pac-12 regular season, and their third in four years. ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme believes they have locked up the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cardinal’s top three scorers all had great games. Second-leading scorer Haley Jones (3-of-4 from deep) led the way with 19 points and stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. She was named Pac-12 Tournament MVP. Leading scorer Cameron Brink had 16 points (8-of-12 from the field) and four blocks, while third-leading scorer Lexie Hull (2-of-3 from downtown) added 15 points and three helpers.

Fran Belibi chipped in with nine points and seven boards for the winners and Lacie Hull (six rebounds, four assists) knocked down two threes during a 21-1 run in the fourth quarter.

Brynna Maxwell (3-of-6 from long range) led Utah with 16 points, while Kelsey Rees nearly had a double-double with eight points and 10 boards in defeat.

Stanford (28-3, 16-0 Pac-12) led by as much as 12 in the first quarter, but an 8-2 Utah run from 6:00 in the second to 2:49 in the second cut it to 28-26. That run featured a three apiece from freshman Gianna Kneepkens and Dasia Young. The Utes (20-11, 8-7 Pac-12) then tied the game at 32 on a Rees second chance layup.

The Cardinal dominated the field goal percentage battle 46 percent to 32.1 percent, points in the paint 40-12 and the boards 41-30. They also only turned the ball over six times. Both teams shot well from beyond the arc; Stanford was 8-of-19 and Utah was 8-of-24.

The Ute starters only managed 23 points.

Creme is currently projecting Utah as a No. 8 seed.