SEATTLE – Markel Walker drove to the rim, trying to give UCLA one last chance at continuing a night in which the Bruins had done so much right.
Her shot bounced around and off, leaving the No. 14 Bruins to lament a missed chance at finally getting the better of Stanford.
"We're hurting right now. My heart just hurts for our seniors," UCLA coach Cori Close said. "I felt they gave so much of themselves in that game today. Hard for them not be rewarded with the win at the end."
Amber Orrange capped a career-high 20-point performance scoring on a spinning drive with 8.3 seconds left, and No. 4 Stanford won its seventh-straight Pac-12 Conference tournament title rallying past UCLA 51-49 on Sunday night.
The Bruins (25-6) executed how they wanted to be on the cusp of snapping a 15-game losing streak to the Cardinal. They recovered from a miserable start in which they missed their first 12 shots and fell into an 11-0 hole, only to surge into the lead by halftime and have control for most of the second half.
UCLA also held Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike to the worst scoring night of her career, limiting her to just three points and keep her off the score sheet for the final 38 minutes of the game.
Yet the Bruins failed to have an answer for Orrange, who scored 10 of Stanford's final 12 points.
"It was atypical today. You look at really intense March games between really good teams, you see that a lot," Close said. "We take each other out of our first and second options, and other people have to step up and make plays."
Ogwumike's struggles were stunning after two memorable performances to open the conference tournament. She had 48 points and 40 rebounds combined in the first two games, yet was a complete non-factor offensively. She failed to score for the final 38 minutes after hitting a free throw with 18:07 left in the first half. Wherever Ogwumike roamed around the paint, she was surrounded by two or three UCLA defenders.
It was a perfect game plan executed by UCLA that almost ended the Cardinal's run atop the conference tournament.
"I think it's a tremendous feat. It isn't a consolation. It still really hurts, but it doesn't change the fact that we (played) a heck of a game on the defensive end of the floor," Close said.
Walker led UCLA (25-7) with 16 points. The Bruins lost to Stanford in the title game for the third time in four seasons.
UCLA led 27-26 at halftime and that lead increased to 42-35 with 9:02 remaining after Ogwumike was called for traveling and Alyssia Brewer scored on a pick-and-roll to give the Bruins their largest lead.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer burned another timeout and Stanford's Mikaela Ruef snapped a 4-minute drought for the Cardinal, only to see Kacy Swain flash open in the lane for a layup and a 44-37 lead with 7:07 left.
Orrange then started her scoring streak to close the game. Joslyn Tinkle hit two free throws before six straight points by Orrange gave Stanford a 45-44 lead, its first since 31-30 early in the half.
It didn't last long. After trading misses, Walker converted a driving three-point play for a 47-45 lead, only to see Orrange answer on a driving layup with 1:38 left. Ruef gave Stanford a 49-47 lead on a desperation fling with 50 seconds remaining, but Walker answered driving past Ogwumike for a left-handed scoop with 36 seconds left.
Orrange let the clock trickle down to about 11 seconds before driving hard down the left side of the lane and spinning clear for the go-ahead score. UCLA was aggressive immediately with Walker getting a step and a good look at the rim but her shot rimmed off. Brewer grabbed the rebound, but was unable to get up a shot in a swarm of Stanford arms and the ball deflected out of bounds with 0.2 seconds left, not enough time for a catch and shoot.
"I was just thinking, 'I want to win. I want to win. I'll do whatever it takes,'" Orrange said. "I just looked for opportunities to take chances on plays on offense and defense and luckily it worked out."
UCLA had its six-game win streak snapped and lost to Stanford for the 16th straight time. Atonye Nyingifa added 10 points and nine rebounds.
"I feel like this whole weekend is something we can go back on and feel we accomplished something," Walker said. "We saw something in us we didn't know we had. The only thing we have to do is go on and see what's next."