The California Bears have seemingly played “little sister” to Stanford in women’s basketball forever. Sunday night at KeyArena, the Bears intend to take advantage of their latest and perhaps greatest chance to make their mark on women’s basketball in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Cal takes on traditional Pac-12 Conference kingpin Stanford in the championship game of the conference tournament. ESPN televises the game at 6 p.m.
The third-seeded Cardinal (23-9) and fourth-seeded Bears (23-8) split two games in league play. Stanford has won 10 of the 13 Pac-12 tournaments. California has never won, thanks partly to losses to Stanford in the only title games Cal has played in (2008 and 2012).
Stanford is ranked 19th, and California came in 26th in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 voting. In Saturday night’s semifinals, Stanford edged second seed Arizona State 59-56, and California topped ninth seed Colorado 68-55. ASU is ranked ninth and went 2-0 against Stanford in league play.
An estimated 3,000 fans turned out one night after Washington, the last of the four Pacific Northwest teams in the tournament, was eliminated.
Stanford 59, Arizona State 56
This year’s Cardinal doesn’t stack up with many of Stanford’s national powerhouses of past years. However, they displayed championship mettle by making big plays at both ends in the final minute to thwart a late comeback bid by the Sun Devils.
Seniors Amber Orrange and Taylor Greenfield led Stanford with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Orrange is a three-time all-conference point guard, but Greenfield is a reserve forward who was averaging 3.7 points per game.
“I get so excited for tournaments,” Taylor said. “I was praying that we would get to play ASU again. Just in general they’re a fun team to play, but because we’ve lost to them twice.”
Arizona State (27-5) shot a season-low 31.6 percent from the field. Sophie Brunner led the Sun Devils with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
California 68, Colorado 55
The surprising Buffaloes, playing their third game in three nights, trailed by just five until Bears standout Brittany Boyd hit a jumper with 3½ minutes left to help the Bears pull away.
Boyd, one of the Pac-12’s all-time leaders in assists and steals, led everyone with 18 points, seven assists and four steals. She tied teammate Reshanda Gray (who had 17 points) for rebounding honors with 10.
Boyd, a senior like Orrange, said she’s looking forward to facing Orrange yet again in a battle between two of the greatest point guards in Pac-12 history.
“I honestly like going up against her,” Boyd said. “She’s a very fun competitor.”
Jen Reese led Colorado (15-17) with 17 points.