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No. 2 Cardinal hold off Cats’ late rally

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

STANFORD, Calif. – Jeanette Pohlen scored a career-high 21 points, including two free throws in the final seconds, as No. 2 Stanford held on to defeat Arizona 70-67 and clinch a share of the Pac-10 regular-season championship.

Stanford (25-4, 16-1) has either won outright or shared the Pac-10 regular-season title for nine straight seasons. The Cardinal can win this year’s crown outright Saturday with a victory over No. 18 Arizona State.

Stanford, which got 16 points from Kayla Pedersen, won its 28th consecutive game at Maples Pavilion.

Arizona sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe, the Wildcats’ leading scorer and rebounder, returned to action after missing two games with a knee injury and finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Reiko Thomas added 14 points for Arizona (11-17, 4-13).

With Ibekwe and Amina Njonkou leading the way, Arizona went on a 15-4 run, cutting Stanford’s lead to 65-64 with 1:36 left to play.

Jayne Appel’s rebound basket pushed Stanford’s lead to 67-64 with 50 seconds remaining. After Arizona’s Thomas missed from inside, Pohlen rebounded and was fouled, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Moments later, Pedersen blocked Ibekwe’s shot, grabbed the ball and was fouled with 16 seconds left. She made one of two free throws, putting Stanford up 68-64. UA’s Courtney Clements drained a 3-pointer with five seconds left, slicing the lead to 68-67, and the Wildcats quickly fouled Pohlen.

This time, Pohlen hit both free throws, and Ashley Frazier’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer for UA was off target.

Stanford struggled in the first half, but built a 35-29 lead behind three 3-pointers by Pohlen.

In the second half, Stanford continued to hurt the Wildcats from long range, as the Wildcats continued to double- and sometimes triple-team Appel. Pohlen made two more 3-pointers in the second half, giving her a career-high five, and Pedersen sank two from long range.

Pohlen’s 3-pointer put Stanford ahead 47-36 with 15:18 to play. Another 3 by Pohlen gave the Cardinal a 61-49 lead, but the Wildcats refused to quit.

Appel scored just 11 points, but blocked a shot to set the Stanford mark with 202, passing Val Whiting.

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