By: Joe Lami
The Stanford Cardinal played their final game of the 2013-2014 season on Sunday night after they were defeated by Connecticut 75-56 in Nashville. The Cardinal were seeking their third National Championship in school history and their first one since 1992, however they fell short in their sixth trip to the final four in the past seven years. Sunday also marks the third time in four years that the Cardinal have fallen in the National Semi-Final.
The Cardinal controlled much of the first half. The Huskies got on the board first with buckets from Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson to go up 4-0. Chiney Ogwumike got on the board first for the Cardinal with a jumper of her own. Connecticut would get the lead back up to four, until Stanford went on a 7-0 run to give them their first lead of the evening with 16:09 remaining in the half. The Cardinal held the lead for 12 minutes until Stephanie Dolson tied it up at 22 with four minutes remaining. The 12 minutes marked the longest stretch of time this season that Connecticut had trailed. Stanford pushed their largest lead to six, marking the second highest lead a team had on Connecticut all season. The Huskies continued their run, extending it to 14-0 before Stanford was able to answer with a bucket of their own. UConn went into the half with a 28-24 lead.
Stanford fell apart in the second half, as Connecticut started the second half with a 5:46 16-3 run. The three points came from a rare three-pointer from Ogwumike. The run would be give enough of a lead for UConn to ride out the win. The Cardinal wouldn’t be able to fight their way back.
Amber Orrange led the way for the Cardinal with 16 points, she also added five assists in the losing effort. Ogwumike wrapped up her Stanford career with her 25th double double of the season, as the expected 1st overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft finished the game with 15 points and ten rebounds. Lili Thompson wrapped up the double figure Cardinal scorers with 12 points, eight of which came in the first half.
The Huskies saw all five of their starters get into double figures. Player of the Year nominee, Brianna Stewart led the way with 18 points. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis contributed 15 points, all of which came in the second half. Hartley shot four of 12 from the field to finish with 14 points. Both Jefferson and Dolson finished the game with ten points each to cap off the double digits scorers. Kiah Stokes also came off of the bench to add nine points in 22 minutes played, as the Huskies used only six players in 39-minutes of the game. In the last minute, substitutes Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Briana Pulido and Brianna Banks replaced the starting five.
Connecticut remains undefeated at 39-0 and advance to their school’s ninth National Championship. Next up for the Huskies is another undefeated team in Notre Dame (37-0), who beat Maryland 81-67 in the other National Semi-Final game. Tuesday will mark the first time ever, where two undefeated teams will battle it out for the National Title. Connecticut also joins their men’s team in the National Championship, as the men’s team will be going up against Kentucky for the men’s title. Both Connecticut team’s won the title in 2004, and have a chance to do it again just ten years later. They remain the only school to accomplish the feat.
Stanford finishes their season with a record of 30-4 and some uncertainty in next season, as it will be the first one since 2008 where an Ogwumike will not be on the team.