March 9, 2003
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The usually stoic Nicole Powell threw her arms up in elation after hitting a key 3-pointer late in the game.
"When UCLA took the lead I was burning up inside," said Powell, who scored 18 points and added 15 rebounds to lead No. 9 Stanford past UCLA 69-64 in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament on Sunday.
"In that situation you have to play tough. I was open for the shot and got excited when it went in."
Her shot - which just beat the shot clock - came on an inbound play and broke a 61-all tie with 1:56 remaining.
"We understand who needs to get the ball at key times," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Nicole is a good option."
Azella Perryman added 16 points and 13 rebounds as Stanford (25-4) reached the tournament final for the second straight year. The Cardinal, who lost last year's final to Arizona State, will play Arizona on Monday night for the title.
Kelley Suminski had 17 points for Stanford, which has won eight straight from the Bruins.
"We were turnover queens out there," VanDerveer said. "Even though we threw the ball away, we showed a lot of poise. Then there was that huge 3, which gave us the emotional burst to win the game."
UCLA's Michelle Greco, who finished with 14 points, left the game for several minutes midway through the first half when she was accidentally elbowed in the nose by teammate Whitney Jones. She re-entered the game with a clear plastic mask to protect it.
"I had broken my nose earlier in the year and already had a nice mask molded for me," Greco said. "So I broke that out. It's OK, just a little tender."
Greco, with her four steals, moved into second place on the Pac-10 career list with 288, 21 behind USC's Tammy Story.
Lisa Willis led the Bruins (18-11) with 17 points.
The Cardinal made just two field goals in the final 6:41 but were 10-of-12 from the foul line to hold off UCLA's upset bid.
Powell recorded her 29th career double-double.
"There's a reason she's one of the best players in the country," UCLA coach Kathy Olivier said.
The Cardinal opened the second half by outscoring UCLA 15-6 to open a 15-point advantage in the first six minutes. The Bruins missed six of eight shots during Stanford's run.
UCLA responded with a run of its own, using a pressure defense to force several turnovers. The Bruins went on a 16-2 run to tie the game at 54 with 4:50 remaining to play when Nikki Blue sank a pair of free throws.
"They were killing us on the boards but we kept it close," said Olivier. "We created a lot of turnovers and that's our strength."
The Bruins took their first lead of the game at 59-58 when Willis sank a 3-pointer a minute later.
Stanford outrebounded the Bruins 31-11 in the first half but turned the ball over 14 times.
UCLA, which shot 28 percent in the first half, trailed by as many as 11 in the first 10 minutes of the game but rallied to draw within 31-25 at halftime.