No. 2 Stanford 75, No. 12 Virginia 66
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Katy Steding scored 18 points and Trisha Stevens had 16 Friday night as Stanford rolled into the NCAA women’s championship game with a 75-66 semifinal victory over Virginia.
The Cardinal led 42-38 at the half and used an 11-2 run, keyed by five points by Steding, to build a 59-46 lead with 8:35 left.
The victory was the 53rd in the last 54 games for the Cardinal, which will carry a 31-1 mark into Sunday’s championship game.
Stanford, the West Regional champion and the nation’s second-ranked team, meets the winner of Friday night’s second game between No. 1 Louisiana Tech and No. 9 Auburn.
Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Conference and East Regional champion, closed the year at 29-6.
After No. 12 Virginia had cut the Stanford lead to 48-44 with 15:06 to play, Sonja Henning began the pivotal run for the Pac-10 champions with a basket from inside the lane at the 14:49 mark.
Steding followed with a 3-pointer from the right of the lane and Julie Zeilstra hit back-to-back baskets to push the Stanford lead to 57-46.
Steding capped the run with a jumper for the 59-46 edge.
The Cavaliers cut the Stanford lead to 69-61 after two free throws by Tammie Reiss with 2:04 to play, but then turned the basketball over three times in the final minutes.
The Cardinal kept the Cavaliers away by hitting six of eight free throws in the final 2:30 and also getting an inside basket from Val Whitting.
Virginia held an 18-16 lead with 9:49 left in the first half before Jennifer Azzi tied the game with a short jumper.
Azzi, who scored 15 points, then put the Cardinal in the lead for good at 21-18 with a 3-point jumper with 7:39 left.
Stanford mounted a 6-0 run late in the half on a basket by Stevens and two free throws each by Henning, who finished with 12 points, and Steding to lead 40-30 with 1:33 left.
Virginia closed the opening half with Dawn Staley scoring five points during an 8-2 run to trail by only four points at the break.
Steding also grabbed eight rebounds for the Cardinal, while Stevens hauled in six.
Staley topped Virginia with 18 points and eight rebounds and Reiss finished with 11 points.
Heather Burge scored all 14 of her points in the second half as the Cavaliers struggled to keep the margin close. Burge also had seven rebounds.