5:00 PM ET, March 2, 2008
SEATTLE (AP) -- As California coach Joanne Boyle checked through her list of important keys, it became clear her ninth-ranked Golden Bears' failed at most of them on Sunday.That's why Bay Area rival Stanford is now celebrating an outright Pac-10 Conference title.Sami Whitcomb scored 24 points, and hit four 3-pointers during a decisive 18-7 second-half run as Washington stunned Cal 74-66, ruining the Golden Bears' chance at their first Pac-10 title.Cal only needed a victory over the sixth-place Huskies to wrap up a share of the Pac-10 regular season title for the first time in school history. Instead, the Huskies delivered the title to the Cardinal."We worked so hard this year to put ourselves in this position and we didn't do what we needed to do to finish it off," Boyle said. "It started from the get-go of the game and it was about all the little things."Need an example? How about Washington's 5-foot-5 point guard Emily Florence grabbing a career-high tying 11 rebounds in her final regular-season home game to go along with 11 points."All the little things, it makes or breaks us," Boyle added.Laura McLellan added 13 points and Andrea Plouffe scored 11 as the Huskies posted their biggest upset of the season and avoided having to play in the first round of next week's Pac-10 Tournament. Washington will go in as the No. 6 seed and play No. 3 Arizona State in the first round."It's all about these two right here," Washington coach Tia Jackson said, pointing to Florence and Plouffe on either side, the Huskies two seniors. "They deserve an end point like this and the team gave it to them."Alexis Gray-Lawson led Cal with 17 points and reserve Rama N'diaye added 13 points, 11 in the first half. But leading scorers Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton struggled with early foul trouble and never found their way into Cal's offense."It kills us. It absolutely kills us and they know they have to stay out of foul trouble," Boyle said.Walker finished with six points -- 10 below her season average -- and 11 rebounds, while Hampton had nine points and nine rebounds. Cal's second place finish is still the highest in school history and the Bears will be the No. 2 seed in next week's Pac-10 Tournament."It was just a whole bunch of possessions we just weren't there," Gray-Lawson said.Washington had played Stanford tough for a half on Friday night, only to see the second half turn into a Cardinal rout. Apparently, some lessons were learned.Trailing 33-29 at halftime, California pulled even at 36-all on Walker's first basket of the game 3 minutes into the second half. That's when the Huskies took off.Florence scored, followed by a pair of baskets by Katelan Redmon. Whitcomb then hit four straight 3-pointers, the last with Hampton in her face to give Washington a 54-43 lead with 8:02 left.After hitting the first 3, Jackson called successive plays for Whitcomb, who would pop off a Plouffe screen and only needed the slightest bit of room to get off her shot."I was going crazy after anytime anybody hit a shot," Whitcomb said. "It was a pretty emotional game."The Huskies lead grew to 62-48 on Plouffe's basket with 4 minutes left, before Cal made one final run, getting within 63-60 on Gray-Lawson's 3-pointer with 57 seconds left. But Washington made 11 of 14 free throws in the final minute to cinch the upset."I couldn't go out on a better note," Florence said. "The cool thing was our teammates were so excited for us [seniors]. They wanted to win so bad for us, and that means a lot."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press