Cardinal hold off Irish 76-75, advance to Women’s Final Four

March 27, 2017

NCAA, Stanford Cardinal

Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale (24) battles Stanford’s Erica McCall (24) for the ball during the second half of a regional final of the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament, Sunday, March. 26, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Stanford has advanced to its 13th NCAA women’s basketball Final Four on Sunday, and the No. 2-seed Cardinal erased a 16-point deficit to overtake top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 in the Lexington (Ky.) Regional at Rupp Arena.

This is Stanford’s first trip to the Final Four since 2014. The Fighting Irish were trying to reach their sixth Final Four in the last seven years. The Cardinal will try to win their third national championship under Coach Tara VanDerveer

Stanford will play either South Carolina or Florida State on Friday in the Final Four at Dallas.

Brittany McPhee, who drained five 3-pointers, led the Cardinal (32-5) with 27 points. But it was a key defensive play at the end by Erica McCall that sealed the win.

Alanna Smith sank a layup with 23 seconds remaining, capping a run that saw the Cardinal complete their second-half comeback. Smith finished with 15 points, as did Karlie Samuelson.

Notre Dame (33-4) had the ball under its own basket with 2.2 seconds left. After a series of time outs, Akire Ogunbowale received the inbound pass and, while driving to the basket, had her shot blocked from behind by McCall.

Stanford ended the Irish’s 17-game winning streak after overcoming a 47-31 third quarter deficit. There were six ties and 12 lead changes in the fourth quarter.

Ogunbowale topped Notre Dame’s scoring with 25 points, and Marina Mabrey added 20 in the Irish’s first loss in eight Elite Eight appearances. Notre Dame was playing without star Brianna Turner, who suffered a torn ACL in a second-round win over Purdue.

Stanford was 12-of-26 on 3-pointers – Samuelson and McPhee each hit five. McCall pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and Marta Sniezek added eight assists.

Ogunbowale, who scored 57 points in the two games, was voted Most Outstanding Player of the regional. McPhee and Samuelson were named to the All-Tournament team.

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