Stanford outlasts Arizona to win first NCAA title since 1992

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Haley Jones #30 and Jana Van Gytenbeek #4 of the Stanford Cardinals hug after the staff’s win towards the Arizona Wildcats within the Nationwide Championship recreation of the 2021 NCAA Ladies’s Basketball Event on the Alamodome on April 04, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. Carmen Mandato/Getty Photographs/AFP (Photograph by Carmen Mandato / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Photographs through AFP)

Stanford started the season as a favourite to win the NCAA ladies’s basketball championship.

The Cardinal needed to show its deserves all the best way to the ultimate seconds of the season.

Stanford produced a game-ending defensive cease for the second recreation in a row and captured its first NCAA championship in almost three a long time by defeating upstart Arizona 54-53 within the title recreation Sunday on the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“It’s an incredible staff. We didn’t play an incredible recreation (within the closing),” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer mentioned. “But when we are able to win, not enjoying in addition to we have to, I’m excited.”

Stanford bottled up Arizona’s Aari McDonald on the final possession and he or she was unable to make a profitable play popping out of a timeout within the waning seconds. Her desperation shot from past the highest of the arc was off the mark.

Haley Jones racked up 17 factors for Stanford, whereas Lexie Hull and Cameron Brink each posted 10 factors. Hull had 10 rebounds.

Stanford gained its third nationwide championship beneath VanDerveer, however its first since 1992.

This was distinctive on quite a few ranges, to not point out Stanford was displaced from its residence area earlier within the season when occasions weren’t permitted in that a part of California amid the pandemic.

“Getting by way of all of the issues we bought by way of, we’re excited to win the COVID championship,” VanDerveer mentioned. .”.. Nobody is aware of the rating, nobody is aware of who scored, it’s a nationwide championship and I’m so excited to characterize Stanford.”

The Cardinal (31-2) additionally gained by one level within the semifinals Friday towards South Carolina.

Jones was named the match’s Most Excellent Participant.

“I noticed they wanted me to come back up huge,” Jones mentioned.

McDonald completed with 22 factors and reserve Shaina Pellington had 15 factors for the Wildcats (21-6), who had by no means been to the Closing 4. They play beneath fifth-year coach Adia Barnes, an alum.

“I’m simply so pleased with this staff,” Barnes mentioned.

There simply wasn’t a storybook ending. The Wildcats inbounded the ball to McDonald within the frontcourt with 6.1 seconds to play.

“They despatched three at me,” she mentioned. “I took a tricky, contested shot and it didn’t fall.”

Stanford defeated Arizona by lopsided margins twice in the course of the Pac-12 common season, however this one by no means bought out of hand. The Cardinal was held to a season-low level whole on this recreation.

“They consider and that’s all I can ask for with the staff,” Barnes mentioned. “They play exhausting for me.”

Stanford scored the primary three baskets of the fourth quarter after a double-digit lead almost vanished. However when Shaina Pellington transformed a three-point play with 4:51 to play, Arizona was inside 51-47.

Two extra fruitless Stanford possessions got here earlier than McDonald’s 3-pointer. McDonald missed on a possible go-ahead shot with barely lower than three minutes to play.

Jones countered with a three-point play. Apart from that basket, the groups mixed to overlook 5 field-goal makes an attempt within the final 3:20.

McDonald made a foul shot with a minute remaining after which sank two extra on the 36-second mark, leaving the Wildcats trailing 54-53. They regained possession following a botched Stanford offensive set however didn’t convert on the finish.

Stanford added to its single-season NCAA Event document whole of profitable 3-pointers by going 4-for-14 and giving it 59 for the six video games. It missed all six second-half makes an attempt.

The Wildcats chopped a 10-point, third-quarter deficit to 43-40 getting into the fourth quarter. Stanford scored solely two factors within the final 5:34 of the quarter.

Stanford raced to a 14-3 lead, so it could be far completely different for Arizona. Two nights earlier, the Wildcats by no means trailed whereas upsetting Connecticut within the semifinals.

Arizona was inside 31-24 at halftime regardless of capturing simply 28.1 p.c from the sector. McDonald was 2-for-11.

Nonetheless, McDonald ended up with 48 whole factors in two Closing 4 video games.

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