SAN ANTONIO — The last time Tara VanDerveer and Stanford were playing for a national championship, the Pac-12 had just 10 schools and the Cardinal were the standard bearer for the conference.
Now, 11 years later, the Pac-12 is on top of the women's basketball world with the Cardinal facing Arizona on Sunday night for the title. The conference is guaranteed its first champion since the Hall of Fame coach and the Cardinal won their last title in 1992.
Stanford was last in the title game in 2010, losing to UConn in the Alamodome - the same building the Cardinal will be playing in on Sunday night. The conference became the Pac-12 a year later, after expansion.
The league has had six different schools in the Final Four since 2013, but none reached the title game until Friday night when both Stanford and Arizona advanced.
To get to Sunday night's game the Cardinal held on to beat South Carolina 66-65 on a basket by Haley Jones with 32 seconds left Friday night. Stanford survived two last-second misses by the Gamecocks.
Arizona didn't need any last-second karma to beat the Huskies 69-59. Wildcats All-America Aari McDonald scored 26 points and the team played stifling defense to put the clamps on UConn.
Arizona lost twice to Stanford during the regular season, but both teams are much improved from their last meeting on Feb. 22 which the Cardinal won 62-48.