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Haley Jones leads Stanford to 15th Pac-12 tournament championship


Stanford took down Utah 73-48 on Sunday to win the Pac-12 tournament championship for the second year in a row and the 15th time in 19 total appearances.

The Cardinal, after holding just a two-point lead at halftime, outscored Utah 41-18 in the second half — including holding the Utes to five points in the fourth quarter — to roll to victory. Haley Jones led Stanford with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, earning tournament MVP honors for her performances during the title run. Cameron Brink added 16 points, four rebounds and four blocks, while Lexie Hull had 15 points and five rebounds.

Brink was named to the All-Tournament Team alongside Stanford guard Anna Wilson.

“I actually think they’re better than they were last year, and last year they won the national championship,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said of Stanford after the game. “I do think they’re the best team in the country.

“If Brink and Jones are both going, they’ll cut down the nets in Minneapolis again. Alone, they’re a matchup nightmare. But when they’re both going, there’s not much you can do.”

Stanford enters the NCAA Tournament having gone undefeated in the Pac-12 during the regular season and postseason. This year marks the 12th time the team has won at least a share of the regular-season conference crown and the Pac-12 tournament title in the same season.

The Cardinal also now own the longest active win streak in the nation at 20 games, with their last loss coming against top-ranked South Carolina on Dec. 21.

“We won last year and we have that target on our back, which we kind of embrace,” said Jones. “It’s kind of fueling that fire to keep our competitive energy going into the tournament.”

The win comes days after Stanford womenโ€™s soccer player Katie Meyer, a friend and supporter of the basketball team, died in a university residence hall. Meyer’s death was later confirmed as suicide.

“Katie was an incredible person in every way,” Hull said. “To be able to win, I know she would’ve been one of the biggest [supporters].”

“For women’s sports, she was enthusiastic, she was so positive, so loving, so outgoing, so compassionate in everything that she did,” Jones added after Hull started to get emotional. “Going into this tournament, we had very heavy hearts … but we tried to embody that spirit. We tried to be competitive, be gritty. She’s one of the most enthusiastic players I’ve ever seen.

“Being able to win and bring this home and be with our Stanford family when we get back is going to be really special. But I think we did a really good job of embodying that for her and for each other.”

Utah, after going 20-11 on the season, is expected to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. Brynna Maxwell was the only Utah player to finish the game in double digits, with 16 points. Kelsey Rees had eight points and 10 rebounds.