Stanford hoping for upset special
By Doug Feinberg
SAN ANTONIO — Hold up on the Connecticut coronation.
Sure, UConn is on the greatest run in women's college basketball history, and yes they've torn through the NCAA tournament. But coach Tara VanDerveer and her Stanford Cardinal think they just might be able to spoil the party in tonight's national title game.
With a few tweaks here and there from their 12-point December loss to UConn, the Cardinal feel they can pull off the monumental upset, ending the Huskies' 77-game winning streak and preventing their seventh national championship and second straight unbeaten season.
"We'll do some things different, but a lot of the things that we need to do are easy to fix," Stanford forward Kayla Pedersen said.
For 22 minutes the Cardinal hung right with UConn. Stanford shot 57 percent in the first half and held a 40-38 advantage at the break — the only time this season the Huskies trailed at the half.
"I've watched the game several times and I know that we're capable of beating them in 20 minutes," VanDerveer said. "At the same time the second half of the game got away from us. We've probably focused more on how it got away from us."
No team has been able to put together a 40-minute effort against UConn during the streak even good enough to threaten the Huskies. Each of the 77 victories has been by double digits.
In the Stanford game, UConn jumped out to a 19-10 lead before star Maya Moore got in foul trouble. The Cardinal made their run with the three-time All-American on the bench.
Getting off to a good start will be critical for the Cardinal.
"That's really the key for us," VanDerveer said. "Against this team we got to stay in contact with them. We're not a super athletic, pressing, trapping team that can come back from being down 15."
Today's championship game will be the sixth time that the top two teams in the final Top 25 poll will meet for the title, with the last coming in 2002 when UConn beat Oklahoma in San Antonio.
"This is what we've worked for and what we dreamed of since preseason," Moore said. "We have a really good Stanford team in our way and it doesn't take a whole lot to motivate us right now. There is so much on the line right now with our individual and team goals."