The defending champions have advanced to the Final Four for the second time. With a 59-50 victory against No. 2 Texas on Sunday, Stanford advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament national semifinals for the 15th time.
With the Hull twins Lexie and Lacie, who grew up in Spokane, as well as other locals, the Cardinal had rousing support from a Spokane Arena crowd that was firmly on their side. Lisa Hull led all scorers with 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting to lead all scorers in the game.
From the start, the game was chippy, physical, and quick, with both teams blocking shots and making difficult saves in the process. Stanford, on the other hand, found ways to score despite the Longhorns playing at the precise speed and manner they desired. Lexie Hull, in particular, seemed to benefit from the crowd’s passion for her and her sister, scoring 5 points in the opening six minutes of the game and finished the first half with a total of 12 points.
Coach Tara VanDerveer of Stanford stated, “You’re usually delighted to make it to the Final Four, but there are moments when you’re very happy.” “I’m overjoyed right now. It is a wonderful group to be a part of; they care about one another and are willing to go the extra mile. Whether it’s Connecticut or N.C. State, we’ll be prepared for anything comes our way. ”
Starting early in the game, free throws and difficult defensive plays were exchanged back and forth. During one stretch, Lacie Hull blocked a shot and turned it into a steal on one end, and then Texas’ Aliyah Matharu took a charge in transition on the other end. Despite the fact that Texas had kept Stanford scoreless for five minutes before that, the first quarter finished 14-14 when Haley Jones sank a difficult buzzer beater.
Despite making just 39.3 percent of their shots from the field in the first half, the Cardinal headed into the locker room with a three-point lead, owing in part to bad free-throw shooting by the Longhorns in the closing minutes. Stanford would make Texas pay each time it lost its patience and began to play too aggressively, either by hitting free throws or by locating an open player along the baseline when Texas lost its cool.
With Longhorns leading rebounder Lauren Ebo picking up her second and third fouls in the opening two minutes of the third quarter and Stanford big Cameron Brink scoring five consecutive points in the same time, it seemed as if Stanford could be able to pull away early in the fourth.
Texas, on the other hand, continued getting stops, even when it couldn’t convert them into points on a continuous basis, and tied the game once more. Audrey Warren, a senior guard for the Texas Longhorns, made clutch 3-pointers to keep the Longhorns within striking distance and also played outstanding defence on Haley Jones.
After being fouled while making a 3-pointer in the third quarter, Jones was able to push Stanford’s advantage back up to 5 points before the conclusion of the period. She made all of her free throws after being fouled. A 5-point advantage was precisely what the Cardinal had carried into the fourth quarter in their first meeting with the Longhorns this season — a loss to Texas on their home floor in November, one of just three defeats on the season for the team from Stanford.
While the pushing and pulling continued in the fourth, the Longhorns were never able to move ahead again and repeat their early-season shock. Texas closed to within two points in the waning minutes, but the Longhorns were plagued by missed free throws throughout the game. The Longhorns made 11 of their 20 attempts from the free-throw line.
Stanford defeated UCLA for the 24th time in a row, the longest current run in NCAA Division I. Cameron Brink performed well in the second half, preventing Texas’ inside attack from scoring with six blocks.
It took enough stuff from them to defeat us, and that’s what great teams do, said to Texas Coach Vic Schaefer. “Other than that, we left everything on the court in the fourth quarter.”
Jones ended up with a double-double as a result of her consistency at the free throw line, where she made 10 of 11 attempts. Jones finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, earning him the title of most outstanding player in the Spokane regional tournament.
Stanford eventually gained control of the low-scoring game and was able to avenge its earlier defeat. Stanford: For the second year in a row, Texas was ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Freshman Rori Harmon said she and her teammates were listening to the coach’s postgame speech and thinking, “But this is just the first year,” referring to the other young players on Texas’ roster. “I’m disappointed in this one, but I’m ready to go on to the next.”