SAN ANTONIO — Tara VanDerveer hugged every of her Stanford gamers as they climbed the ladder to chop down a bit of the online.
Haley Jones scored 17 factors and Stanford beat Arizona 54-53, giving the Cardinal and their Corridor of Fame coach their first nationwide championship in 29 years on Sunday night time.
“Getting via all of the issues we obtained via, we’re excited to win the COVID championship,” VanDerveer stated. ”The opposite one was not fairly as shut, the final one. However we’re actually excited. Nobody is aware of the rating, nobody is aware of who scored, it’s a nationwide championship and I’m actually excited to symbolize Stanford. It’s a fantastic workforce. We didn’t play a fantastic sport in the present day, nevertheless. But when we are able to win, not enjoying in addition to we have to, I’m excited.”
It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch with each groups struggling to attain and lacking simple layups and photographs, however Stanford did simply sufficient to drag off the win.
Stanford (31-2) constructed a nine-point lead within the fourth quarter earlier than Arizona (21-6) reduce it to 51-50 on star guard Aari McDonald’s 3-pointer.
After a timeout, Jones answered with a three-point play with 2:24 left. That may be Stanford’s final basket of the sport. McDonald obtained the Wildcats with 54-53 with 36.6 seconds left changing three of 4 free throws.
“I simply owe all of it to my teammates, they’ve confidence in me once I don’t trust in myself,” stated Jones, who was honored because the match’s Most Excellent Participant. “I noticed they wanted me to come back up huge and I did.”
The Cardinal, after one other timeout could not even get a shot off, giving Arizona one final probability with 6.1 seconds left, however McDonald’s contested shot from the highest of the important thing on the buzzer bounced off the rim.
“I obtained denied onerous. I attempted to show the nook, they despatched three at me. I took a tricky, contested shot and it didn’t fall,” stated McDonald, who fell close to midcourt, slumped in disbelief whereas the Cardinal celebrated.
It has been fairly a journey for VanDerveer and the Cardinal this season. The workforce was compelled on the street for practically 10 weeks due to the coronavirus, spending 86 days in resorts throughout this nomadic season.
Now the 67-year-old coach has a 3rd nationwide title to go together with those she gained in 1990 and 1992. That moved her right into a tie with Baylor’s Kim Mulkey for third most all time behind Geno Auriemma and Summitt.
VanDerveer had many nice groups between titles, together with those led by Candice Wiggins and the Ogwumike sisters — Nneka and Chiney, however the Cardinal simply could not finish their season with that elusive win within the title sport till Sunday night time.
It was the primary girls’s basketball championship for the Pac-12 since VanDerveer and Stanford gained the title in 1992. The final time a workforce from the convention was within the title sport was 2010 when the Cardinal misplaced to UConn. That sport was additionally performed within the Alamodome — the location of each sport on this match from the Candy 16 via Sunday’s championship sport.
The complete NCAA Event was performed within the San Antonio space due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whereas Stanford had historical past on its facet, Arizona has been constructing below coach Adia Barnes, who was the fourth Black girl to steer her workforce to the championship sport, becoming a member of Carolyn Peck, Daybreak Staley and C. Vivian Stringer. Peck and Staley gained titles.
Barnes starred for the Wildcats as a participant within the late 90s and got here again to her alma mater 5 years in the past. She guided the workforce to the WNIT title in 2019 and led them to their first NCAA title sport ever. This was the workforce’s first look within the NCAA Event since 2005 — though the Wildcats would have made the NCAAs final season had it not been canceled by the coronavirus.
The Wildcats began the season No. 7 within the ballot and moved as much as as excessive as sixth — the most effective rating ever in class historical past —for a couple of weeks.
McDonald, who adopted her coach from Washington as a switch, has been an enormous purpose for the workforce’s success. The 5-foot-6 guard, who’s lightning fast, is among the uncommon two-way gamers within the sport who could make an affect on each ends of the court docket.
She struggled in opposition to the Cardinal, ending with 22 factors whereas going 5-for-20 from the sphere.
McDonald obtained the Wildcats on the board hitting a 3-pointer, however then Stanford scored the subsequent 12 factors. The Cardinal led 16-8 after one quarter.
Arizona obtained going within the second quarter and took a 21-20 lead earlier than Stanford scored 11 straight factors, highlighted by Lexie Hull’s four-point play. The Cardinal led 31-24 on the half. McDonald missed 9 of her 11 photographs within the first half.
The Wildcats had been attempting to be solely the fourth workforce to path by double digits and win a championship.
These groups met twice through the common season and Stanford rolled previous Arizona each instances, profitable by double digits in every sport.
Sunday night time’s sport was the primary with two groups from west of the Mississippi enjoying for a title since 1986. … Notre Dame had the most important comeback of any workforce within the NCAA title sport rallying from 15 right down to win the 2018 title on a last-second shot by Arike Ogunbowale.
STRUGGLING AGAINST STANFORD
Barnes has overwhelmed VanDerveer simply twice in her profession as each a participant and coach at Arizona. She misplaced seven of eight enjoying for the Wildcats within the late 90s. The lone victory got here in her senior 12 months on a last-second shot off a move from Barnes to teammate Reshea Bristol, who hit a 20-footer for the win in 1998. As a coach she had misplaced 10 of the 11 earlier matchups earlier than Sunday with the one victory coming in extra time on Feb. 28, 2020.
Extra AP girls’s faculty basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25