Sports

Stanford women seek the win at the end of the rainbow

 

Erica McCall recorded 23 points and 12 rebounds, Karlie Samuelson scored 15 points and the eighth-ranked Stanford women's basketball topped No. 14 Texas, 77-66, on Friday night to reach the Lexington Region final of the NCAA tournament.

The second game this season between the schools ended with another Cardinal win as second-seeded Stanford (31-5) made 8 of 14 in the third quarter and held Texas to 33 percent to rally from a halftime deficit.

The Cardinal took a 54-49 lead entering the fourth and eventually extended it to double digits by making 7-of-8 free throws during a late stretch.

"I'm really proud of our second-half effort," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We really had to battle."

The Cardinal out-rebounded the third-seeded Longhorns 41-35 to earn its second straight Elite Eight appearance.

Stanford meets top-seeded Notre Dame in Sunday's regional final. The Irish routed No. 5 seed Ohio State, 99-76, in the other semifinal.

"We're here in Lexington again, playing Notre Dame," Samuelson said. "It should be a good game."

The Cardinal beat the Irish in the regional semifinal at Lexington last year.

"I feel comfortable in this gym, McCall said. "I'm happy how I finished down low."

But Stanford's play coming out of the break trailing 36-29 was key in gutting out the win.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Samuelson and Brittany McPhee (12 points) got the Cardinal started on a 23-11 run capped by back-to-back 3s by Samuelson for a 52-47 lead. Stanford continued getting the baskets and rebounds it needed for its seventh straight win.

"That just shows our heart," McCall said. "No matter how far down we get, we're going to come back and fight with every rebound, every shot."

The Cardinal shot 39 percent in the first half but stayed even in the paint (18-18) and built a slight edge on the boards. That wasn't easy considering Texas' strength there as well blocking shots.

Three-point shooting was key as Stanford made 7 of 22 from long range while Texas shot just 4 of 13. Samuelson made 4 of 8.

"Threes get people going," Samuelson said. "Britt hit one right after (the break) and that was a good six-point play we had."

— Stanford Athletics

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