Rebels’ stingy defense ends Cardinal tournament run 54-49

Stanford forward Cameron Brink (22) drives to the basket against Mississippi forward Madison Scott, right during the second half of a second-round at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto on Sat Mar 19, 2023 (AP News photo)

By Daniel Dullum
Friday, March 17, 2023

A highly successful women’s basketball season came to an end for Stanford Sunday, as the No. 1-seeded Cardinal fell to No. 8-seed Mississippi 54-49 in the second round of the Seattle 4 Region tournament in a game played at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford finished its season 29-6, while the Rebels improved to 25-8 as they advance to the Sweet 16. The loss snapped the Cardinal’s streak of 14 consecutive years reaching the regional round.

“I thought our team really battled in the second half,” Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said in the postgame media session. “We kind of dug ourselves a hole, but you know, we battled back. We tied it up and we had an opportunity to win the game.

“I think Mississippi is a very experienced and very determined team. They made plays down the stretch that we didn’t make.”

Cameron Brink missed the Cardinal’s NCAA tournament opener against Sacred Heart with what was described as “a non-COVID-19 illness.” She played 34 minutes, scoring a team-high 20 points along with 13 rebounds, seven blocks and two steals. Brink also hit 10-of-10 free throws.

“I think I just – I felt sick,” Brink said. “I think I’m still getting back to my normal self but I definitely got a little winded throughout the game, but I tried my best.”

Senior Haley Jones had 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals in her final game for Stanford.

“I think Ole Miss is a great defensive team,” Jones said. “And we heard them say that they prided themselves on their defense. They packed it in their suitcase, and they were going to come in and execute that plan. I think they did a great job.

“They (Mississippi) were contesting shots in a great way. But we missed a lot of shots that we usually make, which is disappointing.”

Angel Baker was the top scorer for Ole Miss with 13 points, followed by Marquesha Davis with 12 and Madison Scott with 11. Davis had four of the Rebels’ nine steals, and Rita Igbokwe grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes.

The Rebels, who led 29-20 at halftime, never trailed and scored 24 points off 21 Stanford turnovers. After Mississippi built a 49-41 lead with 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cardinal used an 8-0 run, capped by two Brink free throws, to tie the game at 49-49 with 1:15 left.

Scott sank a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining to put the Rebels back in front at 51-49. Three seconds later, after Jones turned the b ball over, Davis hit two free throws to increase the Ole Miss lead to 53-49. Myah Taylor stole the ball from Jones with 15 seconds remaining and sank 1 of 2 foul shots.

Mississippi will face 4-seed Texas or 5-seed Louisville in the regional in Seattle on Friday. The Longhorns and Cardinals play on Monday.

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