NCAA Women: Stanford 72, North Carolina 65
SPOKANE, Wash. ó Nnemkadi Ogwumike was out of the play and unaware of what was taking place after the Stanford star missed in the lane with less than a minute ago.
She wasnít surprised to learn her sister Chiney had come up with another big play for the Cardinal.
When Stanford needed its sister act the most Saturday night, Chiney and Nnemkadi Ogwumike came through.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike and her freshman sister, Chiney, scored 12 of Stanfordís final 15 points and the top-seeded Cardinal held on in the final minute for a 72-65 win over No. 5 seed North Carolina on Saturday night in the Spokane Regional semifinals.
ěThis is one of those classic survive and move on,î Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.
Stanford (32-2) kept alive its hope for a fourth straight Final Four trip ó a string that started four years ago on this floor in Spokane ó thanks to its talented sister duo who made up for an off night from Pac-10 player of the year Jeanette Pohlen.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike led the Cardinal with 19 points.
The Cardinalís road to Indianapolis and the Final Four now intersects with hometown favorite, 11th-seeded Gonzaga tonight in the regional final. Gonzaga beat No. 7 seed Louisville 76-69 in Saturdayís first game to reach its first Elite Eight.
Italee Lucas led North Carolina (28-9) with 22 points and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 14 off the bench, but the Tar Heels were hampered by a tough night from forward Jessica Breland, the Tar Heelsí second-leading scorer. Breland made just one of 13 shots, missed both of her free-throw attempts and finished with just two points, 10 below her season average.
ěJessica didnít have a good game and that was a major factor,î North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. ěJessica had her normal game, we would probably be real happy campers right now. And Iím not blaming it on her, but I just want you all to know that that was a very unusual thing for her as far as her offensive output there.î
Two of the most storied programs in college hoops and two of the most successful coaches ó Hatchell and VanDerveer ó met for just the second time in the history of the two schools, the last meeting coming 16 years ago in an NCAA regional semifinal.
The result is what youíd expect with the Tar Heels and Cardinal involved ó a tight matchup that came down to the final possessions.
But it was the Ogwumikes making the plays while the Tar Heels made mistakes.
ěThey are really great kids and great athletes and they play hard,î Hatchell said. ě(Itís) just so hard to keep them off the boards. It was amazing that (Nnemkadi) didnít have any more rebounds than she had, but her sister made up for that.î
Tied at 59 with 4:35 left, Nnemkadi scored consecutive baskets to push the Cardinal ahead by four. She scored with 3:08 remaining, then saw her sister come up with a big bucket in the lane with 1:59 left after North Carolina had pulled even at 65.
It was still a one-possession game with under a minute remaining when Nnemkadi Ogwumike missed in the lane, but Chiney grabbed the offensive rebound and scored while being fouled with 39.7 seconds left to put the Cardinal up 69-65.
Nnemkadi was unaware of what had happened until she turned around ěand saw (Chiney) sliding on the floor.î
ěI wasnít surprised at all. Thatís a characteristic of Chiney,î Nnemkadi said.
North Carolina committed a turnover on its next possession, one of four they committed in its final five possessions and Pohlen knocked down three free throws in the final 30 seconds. Pohlen missed eight of her nine shots and finished with just six points. Over her last four games, Pohlen is shooting 26 percent.
Chay Shegog added 13 for North Carolina, who rallied from a seven-point deficit early in the second half but only once took the lead on Lucasí basket with 6:51 left. North Carolina went the final 3:42 without a field goal.
ěThat last two minutes I think, just careless mistakes,î North Carolina guard Cetera DeGraffenreid said. ěWe threw the ball away when we shouldnít have, missed defensive assignments that got them wide-open layups.î
The Associated Press
By Will Graves Associated Press NEWARK, N.J. — In an NCAA tournament filled with stunning upsets and unlikely party crashers,... read more