Notre Dame made all the right adjustments, stopped Smith cold in her tracks and seemingly got the ball inside with impunity, scoring 16 layups in the second half alone. Stanford may not have allowed 16 layups combined in the last month.
Stanford carried a 33-26 edge into halftime and the Irish didn't flinch, outscoring the Cardinal 26-13 in the third quarter and took the lead for good in the final two minutes of the third quarter.
Kiana Williams, who finished with 20 points, hit one of her four 3-pointers with 2:51 left in third, putting Stanford ahead 44-41. Notre Dame scored the next six points and then hit the gas pedal. The Irish accumulated 58 second-half points on 71 percent shooting.
Smith, who received her second All-America honor of the season when she was named to The Associated Press All-America second team earlier Monday, leaves an indelible mark on the Stanford record books as the first foreign import into the Cardinal family.
"It has been the best four years of my life," Smith said. "I don't think I'd be the person I am today without my teammates and my coaching staff, and it is going to be very, very hard to leave."
She finishes with 1,703 points, 10th on the all-time list, and 225 blocks, second only to Jayne Appel. Her 842 rebounds are 11th all-time.
This year, she made 81 3-pointers, recorded 78 blocks and is one of only six Stanford players to record at least 699 points in a season.
"Alanna had a great career at Stanford, and we'll really miss her next year," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "But I think that with the returners, we can build on a great season like this, playing in the Elite Eight."
Smith is just the fourth NCAA women's basketball player over the past 20 years to put together a career of 1,703 points, 153 made triples and 225 blocks.
Talk of young, talented players coming into the program next year is well-intended, though premature. Sure, they are great talents but the focal point for Stanford next year should be on the players who have been there and done that.
"In different games, different people stepped up and this team is really special and our seniors are irreplaceable," said Stanford junior DiJonai Carrington, who scored 18 points. "There won't be a team like this but hopefully we'll be able to live up to this standard next season."
Next year is Kiana Williams, DiJonai Carrington, Anna Wilson, Lacie Hull and Lexie Hull. They're the ones who will be mentoring the freshmen. Maya Dodson, Nadia Fingall, Jenna Brown. What's not to like?
"It should help Kiana, DiJonai, maybe Lexie with their confidence," VanDerveer said. "It'll also point out to people, hey, things they need to work on, things we need to get better at."
Brown should spend every second possible with Williams and Wilson between now and opening tipoff next November. Carrington and Dodson will have to step into bigger leadership roles. Stanford's success depends on it.
"One game should not define the season," VanDerveer said. "We've dealt with some adversity, and we hope that we'll get some other people healthy, and we have great recruits coming in next year that will help our team a lot, so it's something to look forward to."
In the mean time, it's best to savor the moment.
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