Fourth-ranked Stanford’s powerhouse, Pac-12 Conference player of the year Chiney Ogwumike, was barely a flicker Sunday night at KeyArena. But the Cardinal proved it wasn’t a one-woman team, thanks to its smallest player, Amber Orrange.
Orrange, a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard, scored 10 of top-seeded Stanford’s last 12 points, including the game-winning lay-in with 8.3 seconds left. That was just enough to escape a tougher-than-expected UCLA outfit, 51-49, to win its eighth consecutive conference championship tourney before 3,927 in the event’s first of a three-year run in Seattle.
Foul-plagued Ogwumike was held to three points, 20 below her average and none after the first two minutes. She had 48 in the tourney’s first two games.
The third-seeded Bruins (25-7) led 44-37 with seven minutes left, but Orrange followed a steal with a solo layup, then added two free throws that gave Stanford (31-2) the lead, 45-44.
A three-point play by Markel Walker, who led UCLA with 16 points, put UCLA back up. But Orrange scored again on a drive to tie at 47. As the shot clock ran down, Mikaela Ruef scored on an off-balance jumper with 50 seconds left.
A driving basket by Walker tied it again, but Orrange double-pumped and spun inside for the go-ahead basket, giving her a career-high 20 points. UCLA missed a final shot and couldn’t corral an offense rebound, losing to Stanford for the 16th consecutive time and the third conference title game in the past four years.