Stanford’s Erica McCall, left, blocks a game-winning shot attempt from Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale in the closing seconds Sunday in Lexington, Ky. Timothy D. Easley AP
Stanford’s Erica McCall, left, blocks a game-winning shot attempt from Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale in the closing seconds Sunday in Lexington, Ky. Timothy D. Easley AP

Women's Basketball

Stanford rallies, edges Notre Dame 76-75 to reach Final Four

By GARY B. GRAVES

The Associated Press

March 26, 2017 04:06 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky.

Alanna Smith’s layup with 23 seconds left capped Stanford’s rally from a 16-point deficit in the second half, Erica McCall blocked a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 on Sunday to reach its first Final Four since 2014.

Brittany McPhee scored 27 points as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won its eighth in a row overall. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cardinal winning twice.

Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame’s 17-game winning streak. The Irish (33-4) had a final shot, but McCall blocked Arike Ogunbowale’s drive from behind and Stanford grabbed the loose ball as time ran out.

The win in the Lexington Regional gives Stanford a chance to pursue its third national championship under coach Tara VanDerveer.

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Smith finished with 15 points.

Among those in the crowd at Rupp Arena was Jon Samuelson, whose daughter, Karlie, scored 15 for Stanford. A day earlier, he was at the Bridgeport Regional to see another daughter, UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson, help the Huskies win their 110th straight game.

Ogunbowale had 25 and Marina Mabrey 20 for Notre Dame, which had sought its sixth Final Four in seven seasons.

After driving for a basket with 51 seconds left, Smith added her biggest shot for the go-ahead score. Stanford then denied Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen and Ogunbowale on successive attempts in the final 15 seconds to spark a wild celebration.

The Big Picture

Stanford once again proved no deficit was too big to overcome. The Cardinal shot 12 of 26 on 3-pointers, Samuelson and McPhee each making five. Not bad, considering Stanford shot 2 of 15 overall in the second quarter while getting outscored 23-7. ... McCall had 15 rebounds.

Notre Dame seemed to do everything right for most of the game but couldn’t stop Stanford’s perimeter game in the second half. The Irish also made just 11 of 31 shots after halftime and were topped 33-32 on the boards.

Up Next

Stanford faces the winner of Monday night’s South Carolina-Florida State game in the Final Four in Dallas next weekend.

Stanford

24

7

24

21

76

Notre Dame

22

23

12

18

75

Stanford (32-5)—Johnson 0-0 1-2 1, McCall 4-10 1-2 9, McPhee 10-17 2-2 27, Roberson 2-5 2-2 7, Samuelson 5-9 0-0 15, Fingall 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 7-10 0-0 15, Carrington 0-3 0-0 0, Sniezek 0-4 2-2 2, Totals 28-59 8-10 76.

Notre Dame (33-4)—Boley 3-8 0-0 9, Westbeld 3-6 1-2 7, Allen 3-9 4-6 10, Mabrey 9-18 0-0 20, Ogunbowale 9-16 6-6 25, Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Young 2-7 0-1 4, Totals 29-65 11-15 75.

3-Point Goals—Stanford 12-26 (McCall 0-1, McPhee 5-9, Roberson 1-4, Samuelson 5-8, Smith 1-1, Carrington 0-2, Sniezek 0-1), Notre Dame 6-21 (Boley 3-7, Westbeld 0-1, Mabrey 2-8, Ogunbowale 1-3, Young 0-2). Assists—Stanford 22 (Sniezek 8), Notre Dame 11 (Allen 6). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Stanford 33 (McCall 11), Notre Dame 32 (Allen 10). Total Fouls—Stanford 12, Notre Dame 12. A—2,527.