Stanford’s Brittany McPhee scored 27 points as the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame in a regional final of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Even after Alanna Smith, Brittany McPhee and other Stanford players pulled off a huge rally to put the Cardinal in position to reach the Women’s Final Four, there still was work to do.
That’s when Erica McCall stepped up and blocked Notre Dame’s path.
Smith’s layup with 23 seconds left capped Stanford’s comeback from a 16-point deficit in the second half, McCall swatted a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 on Sunday for its first Final Four trip since 2014.
The Irish had the ball under their own basket with 2.2 seconds left and there was a series of timeouts before play resumed. Arike Ogunbowale caught the inbounds pass and drove to the basket, and McCall blocked the shot from behind.
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“She took a dribble, and I’m like, I’m going for it whether I get the foul or not,” McCall said. “I got a nice clean block off of it. We get the win. Whew, so I’m excited.”
McPhee, a graduate of Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, scored 27 points as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won its eighth game in a row. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA tournament, with the Cardinal winning the past two in the Lexington Regional.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer referenced the Bluegrass State’s horse-racing history in describing the victory at Rupp Arena.
“It took us awhile to get going,” she said, “but then when we got going, we were charging down that stretch and came across that finish line.”
Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame’s 17-game winning streak.
Ogunbowale finished with a team-high 25 points, and the Irish (33-4) put the ball in her hands at the end.
“It was a screen for Arike,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of the final shot. “She was wide open and she probably could have shot it. That’s hindsight.”
The Cardinal is going to the Final Four for the 13th time, and will aim for its third national championship under VanDerveer.
Stanford faces Monday’s South Carolina-Florida State winner in the Final Four in Dallas on Friday.
Mississippi State beats Baylor
OKLAHOMA CITY – Morgan William scored a career-high 41 points, and No. 2 seed Mississippi State upset top-seeded Baylor 94-85 in overtime to reach the Women’s Final Four for the first time.
William, a 5-foot-5 guard, was chosen Most Outstanding Player of the regional. She set a school record for most points in an NCAA tournament game.
Victoria Vivians scored 24 points and Teaira McCowan added 10 for Mississippi State (33-4), which beat Washington in the previous round.
Kalani Brown scored 27 points and Nina Davis had 18 for Baylor (33-4), which lost in the Elite Eight for the fourth consecutive year.
“At Baylor, we have expectations that are higher than an Elite Eight,” Bears coach Kim Mulkey said. “Whether that’s egotistical, fair, whatever, it is what it is. We have to keep feeding that monster that we started 17 years ago.”
Davis, one of the most decorated players in school history, played in all four of those Elite Eight losses. She thought this one would turn out differently.
“Every time we would get the lead, they would come down and shoot a three, we would foul, and could never get that one stop that we needed,” she said.
William made a three-pointer to give Mississippi State a 73-68 lead in regulation, but Baylor responded with a 7-0 run. William’s layup with 22 seconds remaining tied the score at 75 and led to overtime.
“It took a gut-check, gut-wrenching performance by our kids today and we delivered,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought our kids were unflappable.”