In a game that didn’t deserve to have a loser, the decisive shot misfired by mere inches.
Stanford defeated South Carolina, 66-65, in Friday’s Final Four to advance to the women’s national championship game in a physical contest that went down to the final seconds.
Trailing by one with less than nine seconds remaining, South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston stole the ball to give the Gamecocks a chance to take the lead. After Brea Beal’s layup attempt missed, Boston’s put-back at the buzzer was too strong, sealing the win for the Cardinal.
Stanford took the lead on its previous possession thanks to an offensive rebound by Haley Jones, who knocked down a midrange jumper with 32 seconds remaining. It was a fitting capper in what was a standout performance for the sophomore, who led Stanford with 24 points on 11-for-14 shooting.
The win propels Stanford to its fifth national championship game in program history. The Cardinal most recently played in the 2010 game, losing to Connecticut. Stanford is 2-2 all-time in the national title game, with its last championship coming in 1992 in what was sixth season at the school.
South Carolina started the game off strong, racing out to a 15-6 lead late in the first quarter. The Cardinal rediscovered their footing from there, and fought back to grab a 31-26 lead at halftime.
South Carolina guard Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 25 points on 10-for-23 shooting, while Destanni Henderson had 18 points with five rebounds and three assists.
Stanford’s bigs set the tone for the game, with 12 blocked shots, including six from Cameron Brink. They held South Carolina to 33% shooting inside the paint, per ESPN Stats & Info. This was the seventh national semifinal game decided by one point, and the first since 2000.
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