No. 14 Georgia 61, No. 4 Stanford 59
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)
Somehow the shock of seeing Stanford's run of five straight trips to the Final Four come to a premature end, didn't carry the same sting.
Along with the sense of disappointment came perspective for what the top-seeded Cardinal accomplished.
''I think the reason that I'm not going ballistic right now is like we're 33-3,'' Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. ''That was a huge achievement for our program.''
Still, it's surprising that for the first time since 2007, Stanford won't be playing for a spot in the Final Four.
Jasmine Hassell scored six of her 13 points in the final 3 minutes and fourth-seeded Georgia beat top-seeded Stanford 61-59 on Saturday night to reach the NCAA women's regional finals for the first time since 2004.
Georgia overcame three major scoring droughts, including falling behind 9-0, to oust the No. 1 seed from the Spokane Regional and end Stanford's hopes of reaching the Final Four for the sixth straight year.
Jasmine James led Georgia (28-6) with 16 points, including a pair of free throws with 23.5 seconds left that gave the Lady Bulldogs a 60-56 lead. It's the 11th trip to the regional finals in Landers long tenure at Georgia.
''To finally make the next step and go to the Elite 8 and now to be going into another game to try to compete to go to the Final Four is definitely back to where Georgia basketball needs to be, trying to compete for a national championship,'' James said.
Ogwumike led Stanford (33-3) with 26 points, but was held to eight points in the second half. She also had 12 rebounds.
Amber Orrange added 17 points for Stanford, but was only 7 of 24 from the field. The Cardinal shot 29 percent in the second half and struggled to find open looks for Ogwumike. Second-leading scorer Joslyn Tinkle struggled with foul trouble in the first half and went more than 35 minutes of game time without scoring. She finished with five points.
The Cardinal were already playing without Toni Kokenis and then lost reserve Taylor Greenfield in the first half to a hand injury. That left Stanford with even fewer options to try and help out Ogwumike.
''We know that we can compete with these teams,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''Obviously we competed, but we had to really go as hard as we could, we worked as hard as we could to get to where we are. And I'm disappointed because I have experienced more going to the Final Four and winning a national championship, but I'm not disappointed with what this team accomplished.''
Georgia overcame a 5-minute scoreless drought to start the game, another 5 minutes with just two free throws late in the first half and another 7-minute lapse in the second half with just one basket that allowed Stanford to build a 42-34 lead with 11:50 remaining.
Still, the Lady Bulldogs were hanging around because Stanford made just 3 of 20 shots to start the second half. After Ogwumike scored 18 in the first half, Georgia made an adjustment to force more help on the Stanford star. It worked.
''In those instances I try to look for my teammates more, because it's not a good look if I have two people to try to shoot,'' Ogwumike said. ''And I think we got a few good looks out of that, it's just hard to face a double as any player will tell you.
Then it was time for Hassell to show up in the final 8 minutes. Her basket pulled the Lady Bulldogs even at 42, and the lead went back and forth with neither team leading by more than four points. Orrange dropped in a 16-footer for a 50-46 Stanford lead with 4:22 remaining, before Georgia's closing surge.
Barbee converted a three-point play and after Ogwumike followed Orrange's miss with a basket, Anne Marie Armstrong knocked down a 3-pointer for a 52-all tie. Orrange hit a 3, but Hassell hit consecutive shots and Georgia was back in front 56-55 with 1:45 left.
Mikaela Ruef missed in close twice and was fouled on the third attempt with 1:21 left. Ruef, a 53 percent free throw shooter on the season, split the pair for the fifth tie of the game, but Hassell answered right away for Georgia for a 58-56 lead with 1:02 left. Tinkle then lost control of a pass underneath. Georgia ran the clock before Griffin missed a 3. Barbee got the offensive rebound and James was fouled with 23.5 seconds left. She hit the pair for a four-point lead.
Stanford struggled to get a good look, but Tinkle finally hit a 3 with 5.1 seconds left. Georgia threw long to James on the inbound pass and the Lady Bulldogs were able to run off all but the final 0.8 seconds before Barbee was fouled. She split her free throws for the final margin and Georgia ran off the floor celebrating the upset.
''I'm really proud of how we were facing our form of adversity as a team,'' Ogwumike said. ''So I think that's the one thing I'm hanging on to, is like we worked our butts off this year and things didn't fall the way they should have, in my opinion, tonight.''