San Francisco Chronicle
Jones, Brink deny Bruins’ upset bid
Fans in a section filled with dozens of Haley Jones No. 30 jerseys held their breath for most of the game, but a sigh of relief turned into cheers of joy in the final seconds Monday night.
Jones, on Senior Night and in her last regularseason home game at Maples Pavilion, wrapped up the scoring in No. 3 Stanford’s 71-66 victory over No. 17 UCLA with a free throw with two seconds to play. That came after Cameron Brink’s second block of the night ended the Bruins’ hopes for an upset.
After Jones scored the game’s final point, she was pulled and Cardinal fans were able to shower one of the best players in program history with cheers.
Senior Night honored Jones, Hannah Jump, Ashten Prechtel and Fran Belibi — the group dubbed the “Funky Four” in their freshman season.
“I think there were a lot of moments tonight that we had to change our mentality,” Jones said. “We had to stay in things, especially in that third quarter.”
Stanford finished 23 of 25 from the free-throw line, including 15 consecutive makes from Brink, who tied a season high with 25 points. Jones had the lone free-throw misses but tallied 18 points as she and Brink dominated a tense fourth quarter in which the Cardinal outscored the Bruins 21-15.
The Cardinal (26-3, 14-2 Pac-12) avoided their first conference loss as the home team since January 2021, when they lost in Santa Cruz to UCLA in a game shifted by the pandemic. They haven’t lost a Pac-12 game at Maples since Feb. 24, 2020, when they fell to Sabrina Ionescu and Oregon.
“Haley and Cam stepped up big for us,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We got a lot of contributions from a lot of people.”
Brink became the first Stanford player to reach 100 blocks in a season when she denied an Emily Bessoir jumper with 4:36 to go in the second quarter. Brink broke the Cardinal career block record Friday with her 274th and already had shattered her own season record. She has set a new standard in each of her seasons at Stanford.
Talana Lepolo, who entered Monday hitting 38 percent of her 3-pointers — good for third on the Cardinal — made three triples in the first half.
Lauren Betts, a 6-foot-7 freshman who averages 8.6 minutes per game, played 9:05 in the first half and collected seven points and four rebounds, suggesting she could be another option behind Brink in the postseason.
Betts played just two minutes in Stanford’s 7259 win at UCLA in January.
UCLA (21-7, 10-6) stormed out of the half on an 8-0 blitz before a Stanford timeout. Playing with more pace after starting the game 1 for 10 from distance, the Bruins later extended the thirdquarter run to 15-5.
Charisma Osborne scored eight points over 1:07 of the third quarter after being shut out in the first half.
The Bruins took their first lead since the game’s opening minutes with 3:57 to go in the third and led 51-50 going into the final period. After a back-andforth open to the fourth, Jones and Brink led Stanford on a 6-0 run to take a six-point lead with just under seven minutes left.
Jump, who averages 11.5 points per game and is Stanford’s leading 3-point shooter, was shut out as the Cardinal were held to 4 for 11 shooting from beyond the arc. Jump did make a couple of key plays in the fourth, including a steal and a big offensive rebound, but her offense being shut down kept her uncharacteristically off the floor late.
“Someone was basically glued to her,” VanDerveer said. “I think we have to find ways to get her open, but others stepped up and hit 3s too. … We kept going inside, and they hit a couple of 3s, but if we just take care of rebounding, we’re excellent.”
The Senior Night celebration went on for nearly 45 minutes after the game, with the four seniors honored by their teammates and parents. Jones said the No. 30 shirts throughout the audience were sent from Nike to her family and friends early, and she was surprised by them.
All four seniors played, with Belibi making a key fourth-quarter steal.
“They call themselves the ‘Funky Four,’ ” VanDerveer told the crowd. “I call them the ‘Final Four,’ or the ‘Fabulous Four.’ ” Briefly: Stanford will face Colorado and Utah on the road to close the regular season. A win Thursday over the Buffaloes would clinch at least a share of the regular-season title.