Senior Taylor Greenfield, scoreless in her last appearance against Arizona State, choose a good time to play her best game of the season.
Greenfield scored a season-high 17 points, one off her career best, to along with Amber Orrange's 18 points and the 19th-ranked Stanford women's basketball team edged the No. 8 Sun Devils, 59-56, in the semifinal of the Pac-12 Conference tournament in Seattle on Saturday night.
The Cardinal (23-9) lost both of its regular-season meetings with Arizona State and finished in a third-place tie with California, behind the Sun Devils and regular-season champions Oregon State.
Stanford and the Golden Bears, who beat Colorado, 68-55, in the other semifinal, will now work things out between themselves in Sunday's 6 p.m. championship game to be televised by ESPN. Cal and Stanford split the season series, each winning on the road.
The Cardinal is participating in its 13th title game, having missed the final game for the first time last year.
Stanford and Cal are meeting in the championship game for the third in the 14-year history of the tournament, with the Cardinal winning, 56-32, in 2008 and 77-62 in 2012. For the second straight year, the title game will be without a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
"There is no underdog; you're playing for a championship," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "It will be all about grit: come out and battle."
Stanford built a 50-37 lead with just under nine minutes to play, courtesy of a Greenfield jumper. That advantage vanished over the course of the next seven minutes, with Arizona State taking a 56-55 lead with 2:19 left.
The Sun Devils never scored again, missing their last five shots.
The key miss was actually a block and rebound by freshman Kaylee Johnson with 11 seconds remaining to play.
Greenfield gave the Cardinal the lead for good on a driving jumper with 44 seconds left. Johnson blocked a shot with 30 seconds left, with the ball going to Stanford.
At that point, the Sun Devils had only been whistled for one foul in the second half, opposed to the 17 fouls Stanford committed.
Arizona State committed five fouls over the next nine seconds, and then a turnover gave the Sun Devils a chance to take the lead. That's when Johnson stepped up for the rejection. She was fouled on the ensuing rebound and made the first attempt, but missed the second.
Enter Greenfield, who grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made one of two foul shots for the final margin of victory.
"I get so excited for tournaments," Greenfield said. "I was praying that we would get to play ASU again, especially just in general they're a fun team to play, but because we've lost to them twice. I know everyone was excited, but I was ready. I was so pumped for this game. I love Seattle. I love coming here. I think it's a great start for what we have coming forward in the NCAA tournament too."
Orrange scored 15 points in the first half and was part of Stanford's decisive run midway through the second half that turned a four-point lead into a 13-point advantage.
"We talked about how last year we were the No. 1 team in the tournament and we still lost," Orrange said. "So we knew coming in, even if we didn't win the Pac-12 Conference, anybody could come in and win, and we could do it."