Baylor, Stanford prevail, advance to Final Four
Phenomenal freshman Brittney Griner caught a pass, spun around and hit a short jumper with 45 seconds left to propel fourth-seeded Baylor to a 51-48 win over No. 2 seed Duke on Monday night for its second trip ever to the Final Four.
“I knew we needed that bucket so I did everything I could to get position and to have (the defender) pinned behind me and step through and go up strong,” Griner said.
The 6-foot-8 Griner and her teammates hoisted Kim Mulkey onto their shoulders so the coach could cut down the net. Mulkey led the Lady Bears to their only other appearance in the national semifinals in 2005 en route to the national championship.
“I’ve never had players tall enough to lift me to cut the net, so that’s a first,” Mulkey said.
Baylor’s men’s team lost to Duke,
78-71, on Sunday in the South Regional final. It was the first time that there had been the same regional final matchup in both brackets since the women’s tournament began during the 1981-82 season, according to STATS LLC.
Duke led the entire second half until Griner’s basket and by as much as 10 points— enough for freshman Jordan Madden to start longing for the bench.
“I really didn’t want to be out there because I didn’t want to make a mistake and turn the ball over or foul and let them shoot free throws,” Madden said.
The Blue Devils held a
46-38 advantage with 4:59 left before a pair of free throws by Kimetria Hayden launched a 13-2 run for the Lady Bears
Krystal Thomas spent 26 minutes guarding Griner in the paint before fouling out with 2:17 left. That cleared the way for Griner, who hit the game-winning shot over Cheek’s extended arm.
“When Krystal Thomas was fouled out, that’s the game. That’s the story. That’s it,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “If you take our best 6-4 player out of the game for the last three minutes, it changes the game enormously. And they took advantage.”
Hayden, also a freshman, made a pair of free throws and stole the following inbounds pass by Cheek, dishing it to Melissa Jones for a layup with 2:10 left that pulled the Lady Bears within one. Jones, who finished with 10 points, also hit a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left, forcing Duke
(30-6) to scramble.
Griner just missed her third triple-double of the season, finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.
Griner, who blocked 14 shots in the second round against Georgetown to set an NCAA tournament single-game record, has 35 through four tournament games. That broke the previous record of 30 by Duke’s Alison Bales in 2006.
-- Stanford 55, Xavier 53—Jeanette Pohlen made the biggest play yet to save Stanford’s spectacular season, on a night the Cardinal (35-1) were a far cry from their dominant selves.
Pohlen drove the length of the court for the game-winning layin as the buzzer sounded, lifting top-seeded Stanford to a third straight trip to the Final Four.
Xavier’s Dee Dee Jernigan missed two wide-open layins in the closing 12 seconds that likely would have sent the Musketeers to San Antonio for their first Final Four.
Stanford’s Kayla Pedersen inbounded the ball underneath the Xavier basket to Pohlen with 4.4 seconds left. Pohlen dribbled all the way for the winning shot. The play was briefly reviewed, then Stanford erupted in celebration once the officials ruled the basket good.
“It was only 4 seconds left, so I had to weave my way in and out,” Pohlen said.
The Musketeers hung with Stanford for all 40 minutes—and the Cardinal needed every bit of grit they had to move on for at least one more.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 16 points and 14 rebounds and Pedersen added 18 points and 10 boards for Stanford.
Amber Harris scored 20 points for third-seeded Xavier (30-4), which saw its 21-game winning streak end.
Last updated: 2:08 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012