LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Alanna Smith’s jumper 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 Sunday to reach its first Final Four since 2014.
Brittany McPhee scored 27 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 near the basket.
The win in the Lexington Regional gives Stanford a chance to pursue its third national championship under coach Tara VanDerveer.
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.
Smith finished with 15 points.
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.
Stanford faces the South Carolina-Florida State winner in the Final Four in Dallas next weekend.