Taylor Greenfield showed up to play and dragged her teammates along for the net-cutting ceremony. She scored a career-high 20 points on the heels of a 17-point night in the semifinal to help the 19th-ranked Stanford women's basketball team beat California, 61-60, in the championship game of the Pac-12 Conference tournament on Sunday night in Seattle, Wash.
"We've kind of coined the nickname 'Tournament Taylor,' so I guess she's just living up to that," said Cardinal freshman Kaylee Johnson, who grabbed 12 rebounds. "Tara is always emphasizing how sometimes different people need to step up in different games, and I think Taylor really showed that this weekend."
Greenfield was named the tournament Most Valuable Player for her efforts as she turned in a clutch performance.
"The way our Pac-12 season kind of went this year, I don't think a lot of people had the highest hopes for us, but we definitely didn't let down on ourselves," Greenfield said. "Our theme this year has kind of been to crash some parties, and I think that's exactly what we did here."
Lili Thompson added 13 points and Amber Orrange, also named to the all-tournament team, had 12 as the Cardinal (24-9) earned the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
The selection show will be aired on ESPN a week from Monday at 4 p.m.
Stanford recovered from an early 10-point deficit to deliver proof that championship-caliber teams remain among the elite despite past failures.
What matters is the Cardinal can call themselves champions in a season that had all the earmarks of a transition year.
Greenfield, the most unlikely of heroines, made eight of her first nine shots and saved her best for the second half, when the Cardinal finally took its first lead on one of her 3-pointers with 19:05 remaining to play.
"I knew what needed to be done, and I knew I was very capable of doing that, and I had the opportunity," Greenfield said. "All I was thinking about is what we just did out there two games in a row."
She scored six points during a crucial 7-minute stretch of the second half that gave Stanford its biggest lead at 55-47 with just under five minutes to play.
Stanford and California met in the championship game for the third time, with the Cardinal winning each of them.
"Our team came out and showed some real grit," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We got down, we started a little bit slow, and people dug in. We didn't play necessarily a pretty game, but a gritty game."
Greenfield became the first non-starter to earn the tournament MVP in its 14-year history. She became the sixth Cardinal to win the honor, joining Nicole Powell, Candice Wiggins, Kayla Pedersen, Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike.
Orrange added a career-high six steals, which matched the most for a tournament championship game.