No. 6 Stanford 81, UCLA 77
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ It wasn’t that No. 6 Stanford didn’t have respect for UCLA.
But the Bruins figured they might be underestimated just a little by the high-flying Cardinal. And for one half it seemed that way.
UCLA shot 65 percent from the field and dominated the first half. But Stanford, led by Kate Starbird’s career-high 33 points, chipped away at the lead and rallied to win 81-77 on Thursday night.
It was Stanford’s 23rd straight home victory, the nation’s second-longest streak.
``I always knew we would come back,″ Starbird said. ``I never thought we’d lose.″
Stanford (10-2 overall, 3-0 in the Pacific-10) used a 13-2 run late in the game to turn a 70-64 deficit into a 77-72 lead. Starbird scored six points during that streak, which featured five points from Vanessa Nygaard and Olympia Scott’s go-ahead layup.
UCLA (6-6, 1-2) led by as many as 12 (57-45) with 15:45 left in the second half.
UCLA’s Erica Gomez had a chance to tie the game with 11 seconds left and the Cardinal leading 79-77, but she missed a pair of free throws. Stanford’s Jamila Wideman sank two free throws to seal the victory with 7 seconds left.
``UCLA was not convinced they could beat us,″ Wideman said. ``When we pulled to within three points, I was very confident we’d win.″
Zrinka Kristich was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 18 of her 20 points in leading the Bruins to a 44-35 edge at halftime. UCLA was 19-of-29 in the first half while the Cardinal was held without a 3-pointer and made only 41 percent of its field goal attempts.
But the tiring Kristich, bothered by a sore knee, was ineffective in the second half, and Stanford took advantage. Scott and Naomi Mulitauaopele took charge and totaled 16 points in the second half.
Nickey Hilbert led the Bruins with a career-high 29 points, hitting 13 of 22 from the field. Nygaard finished with 16 and Mulitauaopele had 15 for Stanford.
Starbird hit 14 of 25 field goal attempts, had four assists and three steals for Stanford. The Cardinal, normally a solid free-throwing team, made only 12 of 21 from the line.
In the team’s two games last year, Stanford beat UCLA by 39 and 35 points.
``Due to the outcome of last year’s games, we felt they didn’t take us as seriously,″ Hilbert said. ``We were in their faces early, but we didn’t get into our offense in the second half.″