After 29 years, Stanford are nationwide champions but once more.
In a sport that got here all the way down to the wire, No.1 seed Stanford defeated Arizona on Sunday, 54-53, to win the title. That is the primary time that two Pac-12 girls’s basketball applications have met within the nationwide championship.
Led by legendary coach Tara VanDerveer, Stanford has now received their third nationwide championship in program historical past, and the primary since 1992. They’ve now tied Baylor for the third most nationwide championship titles in girls’s faculty basketball historical past, sitting behind UConn (11) and Tennessee (8).
In what was a sport of runs, Stanford jumped out early—main by as a lot as 11, after which 16-8 after the primary quarter. Nevertheless, Arizona would rapidly get again into the sport, thanks partially to their bodily protection.
Arizona, who compelled 21 Stanford turnovers and managed to snag 12 steals, went on a 13-4 second-quarter run. They managed to have a short one-point lead with 4:55 remaining within the half.
But, as quickly as Arizona made a counter run, Stanford answered proper again—serving to the Cardinals go on an 11-3 run to present them a seven-point lead at halftime, 31-24.
Lifted by their robust work on the glass, Stanford used their measurement as a bonus and was in a position to preserve possessions alive and get second possibilities.
All through the third quarter and the start of the fourth, Stanford continued to carry the lead and managed the sport. The Cardinals stretched it out to a nine-point lead, 49-40 with 7:32 left after a made jumper by Haley Jones.
As soon as once more, Arizona fought again simply as they’d all match lengthy. Aari McDonald hit two main threes to present the Wildcats inside a one-point margin with below three minutes remaining.
Haley Jones‘s clutch three-point shot and an and-1 end gave Stanford a four-point lead with 2:24 remaining, but Arizona’s protection got here in robust with some key stops and, but once more, McDonald stepped up on the offensive finish. Three late free throws from McDonald minimize the result in 54-53 with 37 seconds left.
Throughout the closing 6.1 seconds of the sport, Arizona compelled a shot clock violation and the Wildcats had one closing shot for an opportunity on the title.
Everybody who was within the Alamodome on Sunday and watching it at residence, knew who was getting the ball for the Wildcats. Aari McDonald, who completed with 22 factors, carried this Arizona crew to the nationwide title sport, and it was certainly her shot to take.
Regardless of the missed try, the Wildcats proved that not solely do they belong within the match however that they will compete for the Nationwide Championship.
“It was going to be Aari or nothing,” coach Adia Barnes stated, per ESPN. “I knew she was going to be doubled, however operating a display was the best choice
In the meantime, Stanford was led by strong contributions from gamers on each ends of the ground. Sophomore Haley Jones, led the Cardinals with 17 factors and was honored because the match’s Most Excellent Participant.
“I simply owe all of it to my teammates, they’ve confidence in me after I don’t trust in myself,” stated Jones, per ESPN. “I noticed they wanted me to return up large and I did.”
Jones additionally elaborated on the tough obstacles this Stanford crew needed to undergo, and the perseverance this group confirmed by means of all of it to return out on prime.
“It was an extended, very tough journey being on the highway, sleeping in inns, dwelling out of your bag. It’s only a lot. You’re on the bus, you’re on planes on a regular basis and there’s simply by no means actually an finish in sight so it’s tough,” Jones stated. “However I feel from that have and dropping on the highway and dropping one at residence, I feel it simply actually type of grew this additional like chip on our shoulder virtually.”
As for her teammates, junior Lexi Hull completed with a double-double, with 10 factors and 10 rebounds, together with freshman Cameron Brink—who additionally completed with 10 factors—stepped up large and had three blocks. Sophomore, Ashten Prechtel poured in 8 factors and grabbed 7 rebounds.
One other key for Stanford was the protection guard Anna Wilson performed on Aari McDonald. It received’t present up within the stat sheet, however it was the difference-maker within the sport. Wilson has been locking up gamers on protection all yr for the Cardinals, and it was no totally different within the championship sport.
Wilson made it tough for McDonald to get into any kind of rhythm on the market.
“Having Anna Wilson on me, them leaping at the whole lot, simply making it type of tough for me,” stated McDonald, Per ESPN. . “I might just about say it was the identical [as the first two meetings]. Simply extra bodily this time.”
In a championship that was merely constructed on pure resiliency, Stanford by no means bought discouraged throughout this atypical season. The Cardinals used their depth on and off the court docket to beat adversity all season lengthy.