SPOKANE, Wash. -- Jeanette Pohlen's timely shooting lifted Stanford past spirited Gonzaga.
Pohlen hit consecutive 3-pointers to break a late tie and help the No. 3 Cardinal to a 84-78 win over the Bulldogs on Sunday.
"Nice shots. Big shots," said coach Tara VanDerveer after Stanford (3-0) escaped an upset in the sold out McCarthey Athletic Center.
Pohlen, who finished with 19 points, typically makes up to 80 percent of her 3-pointers in practice, VanDerveer said. She made only 3-of-7 on Sunday, but the big ones came during the 9-0 Stanford run that decided the game.
Stanford's defense held Gonzaga scoreless for three minutes after the Bulldogs (1-2) had tied the score, killing hopes for what would have been that program's biggest victory.
"We had pretty good looks and they didn't go," Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said.
Courtney Vandersloot, who led all players with 24 points, said the Bulldogs also failed to rebound at the end.
"They had a couple of misses and they came up with the board and got easy baskets," Vandersloot said.
The Bulldogs were not intimidated by playing a national power like Stanford.
"We think we can compete with teams like that," Vandersloot said. "I don't consider this a moral victory."
Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 21 points and had 14 rebounds for Stanford. Ogwumike, who did not play against Utah for an unspecified "medical issue" on Friday, started Sunday and had several fingers on her right, shooting, hand wrapped. She made just 8 of 22 shots.
VanDerveer said the wraps were for a knuckle injury, and were not related to why Ogwumike missed the Utah game.
"They defended her well," VanDerveer said. "We expected that kind of game. Our team showed great poise."
Stanford beat Gonzaga 105-74 last year in the only other meeting of the programs. Gonzaga had most players back from a team that went to the regional semifinals last season.
Stanford has held all three of its opponents under 40 percent shooting this season. Gonzaga made just 28 of 80 shots, for 35 percent. Stanford shot 42 percent, and each team pulled down 49 rebounds.
Kayla Pedersen had eight points and 10 rebounds for Stanford, while Joslyn Tinkle added 11 points.
Gonzaga, which saw its 19-game home winning streak snapped, also got 16 points from Janelle Bekkering, 14 points and 10 rebounds from Katelan Redmon and 12 points and 9 rebounds from Kayla Standish.
Gonzaga trailed 56-46 with 15 minutes left. But Vandersloot scored five points during a 9-2 run that cut Stanford's lead to 58-55 with 11:30 left. Bekkering's basket cut the lead 61-59.
Stanford scored five straight when Ogwumike completed a three-point play and her sister Chiney Ogwumike had a putback for a 68-61 lead with 7:36 left.
Bekkering and Standish hit 3-pointers that allowed Gonzaga to tie the game at 68 with 5:23 left.
Stanford scored the next nine points, with Pohlen's consecutive 3-pointers giving Stanford a 77-68 lead with 2:35 left to decide the game.
In the first half, Gonzaga took an 18-14. But a long jumper by Nnemkadi Ogwumike ignited a 16-5 run that gave Stanford a 30-23 lead. Gonzaga lost its shooting touch and was held scoreless for five minutes in that stretch. Gonzaga pulled within three a couple of times, but a late 13-8 run gave Stanford a 45-37 halftime lead.
The game, featuring the highest ranked women's team to visit Gonzaga, sold out the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center. The only other women's sellout was a 77-58 loss to Tennessee on Dec. 30, 2008, that featured local product Angie Bjorklund returning to Spokane.