Stanford holds off Arizona 54-53 to win women’s NCAA title

Haley Jones scored 17 points and Stanford beat Arizona 54-53, giving the Cardinal and coach Tara VanDerveer their first national championship in 29 years on Sunday night.

Posted: Apr 4, 2021 7:37 PM

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Haley Jones scored 17 points and Stanford beat Arizona 54-53, giving the Cardinal and coach Tara VanDerveer their first national championship in 29 years on Sunday night.

It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch with both teams struggling to score and missing easy layups and shots, but Stanford did just enough to pull off the win.

Stanford (31-2) built a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter before Arizona (21-6) cut 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 would be Stanford’s last basket of the game. McDonald got the Wildcats with 54-53 with 36.6 seconds left converting three of four free throws.

The Cardinal, after another timeout couldn’t even get a shot off, giving Arizona one last chance with 6.1 seconds left, but McDonald’s contested shot from the top of the key at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

It’s been quite a journey for VanDerveer and the Cardinal this season. The team was forced on the road for nearly 10 weeks because of the coronavirus, spending 86 days in hotels during this nomadic season.

The team didn’t complain and went about their business and now have another NCAA championship. Along the way the Hall of Fame coach earned her 1,099th career victory to pass Pat Summitt for the most all time in women’s basketball history.

Now the 67-year-old coach has a third national title to go along with the ones she won in 1990 and 1992. That moved her into a tie with Baylor’s Kim Mulkey for third most all time behind Geno Auriemma and Summitt.

VanDerveer had many great teams between titles, including the ones led by Candice Wiggins and the Ogwumike sisters — Nneka and Chiney, but the Cardinal just couldn’t end their season with that elusive win in the title game until Sunday night.

It was the first women’s basketball championship for the Pac-12 since VanDerveer and Stanford won the title in 1992. The last time a team from the conference was in the title game was 2010 when the Cardinal lost to UConn. That game was also played in the Alamodome — the site of every game in this tournament from the Sweet 16 through Sunday’s championship game.

The entire NCAA Tournament was played in the San Antonio area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Stanford had history on its side, Arizona has been building under coach Adia Barnes, who was the fourth Black woman to lead her team to the championship game, joining Carolyn Peck, Dawn Staley and C. Vivian Stringer. Peck and Staley won titles.

Barnes starred for the Wildcats as a player in the late 90s and came back to her alma mater five years ago. She guided the team to the WNIT title in 2018 and led them to their first NCAA title game ever. This was the team’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2005 — although the Wildcats would have made the NCAAs last season had it not been canceled by the coronavirus.

The Wildcats started the season No. 7 in the poll and moved up to as high as sixth — the best ranking ever in school history —for a few weeks.

McDonald, who followed her coach from Washington as a transfer, has been a huge reason for the team’s success. The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can make an impact on both ends of the court.

She struggled against the Cardinal, finishing with 22 points.

McDonald got the Wildcats on the board hitting a 3-pointer, but then Stanford scored the next 12 points. The Cardinal led 16-8 after one quarter.

Arizona got going in the second quarter and took a 21-20 lead before Stanford scored 11 straight points, highlighted by Lexie Hull’s four-point play. The Cardinal led 31-24 at the half. McDonald missed nine of her 11 shots in the first half.

The Wildcats were trying to be only the fourth team to trail by double digits and win a championship.

These teams met twice during the regular season and Stanford rolled past Arizona both times, winning by double digits in each game.

TIP-INS:

Sunday night’s game was the first with two teams from west of the Mississippi playing for a title since 1986. ... Notre Dame had the biggest comeback of any team in the NCAA title game rallying from 15 down to win the 2018 title on a last-second shot by Arike Ogunbowale.

STRUGGLING AGAINST STANFORD

Barnes has beaten VanDerveer just twice in her career as both a player and coach at Arizona. She lost seven of eight playing for the Wildcats in the late 90s. The lone victory came in her senior year on a last-second shot off a pass from Barnes to teammate Reshea Bristol, who hit a 20-footer for the win in 1998. As a coach she had lost 10 of the 11 previous matchups before Sunday with the only victory coming in overtime on Feb. 28, 2020.

Huntsville
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 59°
Florence
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Fayetteville
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 57°
Decatur
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Scottsboro
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 59°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 849978

Reported Deaths: 12217
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby952081613
Davidson89184932
Knox50513634
Hamilton44114491
Rutherford42950433
Williamson27935217
Sumner23921348
Montgomery20138225
Wilson18742233
Out of TN1833397
Unassigned16961134
Sullivan16691290
Blount15441193
Bradley14983149
Washington14535244
Maury13450171
Sevier13341175
Putnam11342174
Madison11132241
Robertson9737131
Anderson8750172
Hamblen8597173
Greene7840155
Tipton7317101
Coffee6894121
Dickson6827110
Cumberland6704128
Carter6595156
Gibson6514145
Bedford6500128
McMinn648998
Roane6267105
Jefferson6177124
Loudon610369
Hawkins6005107
Lawrence590186
Monroe582095
Warren554181
Dyer5416105
Franklin513890
Fayette503576
Cheatham454155
Obion453396
Cocke448699
Lincoln434563
Rhea434075
Marshall417858
Campbell415163
Weakley410164
Giles3992100
Henderson378476
White362469
Macon361578
Carroll361283
Hardin356967
Hardeman351064
Henry317476
Lauderdale317444
Claiborne317273
Marion312247
Scott311445
Overton300661
Wayne295935
Hickman283546
McNairy281054
DeKalb279254
Smith277139
Haywood270562
Grainger261950
Trousdale249922
Morgan249139
Fentress240947
Johnson238839
Chester213851
Bledsoe213011
Polk206224
Crockett202848
Unicoi202249
Cannon191731
Union190434
Grundy178934
Humphreys178726
Lake170226
Sequatchie169429
Benton165740
Decatur158439
Lewis158126
Meigs138325
Stewart132228
Jackson131935
Clay110131
Houston109133
Perry106228
Moore101017
Van Buren84623
Pickett75924
Hancock58812

Community Events