Stanford falls short in semifinal
Jeanette Pohlen's final moments for the Stanford Cardinal were painful in more ways than one.
The All-American point guard injured her right ankle with 3 seconds left, just as Tyra White's layup gave Texas A&M a one-point lead. Pohlen could only watch as Sydney Colson intercepted Stanford's long inbounds pass and the Aggies held on for a 63-62 win in a national semifinal Sunday night.
Four straight trips to the Final Four for Stanford. No championships.
Pohlen tried to put a positive spin on it as she fought through tears while standing on an iced ankle after the game.
''It's disappointing, but to have made it this far is very rewarding,'' she said.
She said it was especially difficult to be unable to contribute in the final seconds.
''At that point, my ankle was hurting pretty bad,'' she said. ''If anything, I would have been able to throw the ball.''
Pohlen finished with 11 points, four assists and seven turnovers. She couldn't even get up from the bench to congratulate the Aggies. Texas A&M coach Gary Blair went to the bench and put his arm around her, followed by the rest of his team.
Stanford wasted a 31-point effort by Nnemkadi Ogwumike, which included a layup with 9 seconds remaining that gave the Cardinal the lead. Ogwumike shot 10 for 15 from the field, but her teammates shot 13 for 31.
Stanford lost in the national championship game in 2008 and last year. It lost in a 2009 semifinal.
''This is really tough for our team,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''But I'm really - I'm very proud of everyone in how hard they worked and all the things they accomplished this year.''
White scored 18 points and Danielle Adams added 16 for the Aggies (32-5), who snapped Stanford's 27-game win streak and outscored the Cardinal 19-8 down the stretch.
Stanford entered the game averaging 79 points per game, but the Cardinal (33-3) played the game at Texas A&M's plodding pace. Stanford committed a season-high 22 turnovers and matched its lowest point total of the season.
Stanford's players thought they were prepared for the pressure.
''We've played against teams that pressured a lot in the past throughout the season, so we thought we were ready for it,'' Stanford forward Mikaela Ruef said. ''We worked a lot on it in practice this past week. But, it's one thing when you work on it and another thing when it's actually real.''
Pohlen took responsibility for the turnovers.
''I think they definitely disrupted us,'' she said. ''They forced us to go into kind of a spread offense. They really mixed it up on us. Their pressure defense, in the frontcourt and the backcourt, was very effective.''
Adams hit a baseline jumper with about 10 minutes left to cut Stanford's lead to 42-41, but the Cardinal responded. A 3-pointer by Pohlen put the Cardinal ahead 52-44.
Back-to-back 3-point plays by White and Adams cut Stanford's lead to 54-52, setting up the final back and forth of the Cardinal's season.
''I think they had a couple of and-ones where they didn't call the charge,'' Pohlen said. ''Tough calls. It's tough when you get those calls. You get the momentum to their team and get their fans going. But even with that, we were still up, and we made big plays at the end. We just didn't make that last one.''
The Cardinal were frustrated with their inability to close out a game they seemingly had under control.
''We kept trying to get inside, but their defense was relentless, and they fought really hard,'' Ruef said. ''They just hung in there, and then at the end, they were able to steal it.''