Stanford University won its 3rd Women’s Basketball National Championship, 54-53, against the University of Arizona on Sunday night. The game was a low-scoring affair, but it was a great watch, with both teams going up and down the floor. Arizona was down by 7 at halftime but came out pressuring hard defensively to get back into the game.
Going into the 4th quarter, Arizona cut the lead to 3 and had momentum on their side. During the 4th quarter, Arizona continued to press ferociously and was turning Stanford over at will but was unable to capitalize enough on those turnovers. Stanford’s standout performer was Haley Jones, who scored 17 points and had 8 rebounds. Jones also hit shots in key points of the game, including an old-fashioned three-point play that extended Stanford’s lead to 4 with a couple minutes left, which was ultimately Stanford’s last points of the game. Arizona had multiple opportunities to cut/take the lead in the last two minutes, but the shots would not fall for them (shot 28.3% as a team from the field). Arizona had a chance to win with the last shot of the game, but Stanford defended Arizona’s guard Aari McDonald perfectly, forcing her to shoot a low percentage shot.
This game was an epic back and forth battle in the 4th quarter, with both teams leaving it all on the court. Arizona’s pressure (as mentioned above) was key to keeping them in the game, and it turned Stanford over 21 times (4 times in the final five minutes). Aari McDonald was Arizona’s standout performer, scoring 22 points, though Bendu Yeaney and Shiana Pellington were also big contributors. Arizona had a great run in the tournament, beating UCONN, widely considered the favorite to win the whole thing, in the Final Four. The Wildcats’ coach, Adia Barnes, faced adversity all season long, giving birth a week before the season started. Barnes is an inspiration because of her perseverance in leading her team throughout the season despite just giving birth.
Credit to the Stanford Women’s Basketball team and their coach, Tara VanDerveer, on a great national championship victory.
All stats provided by ESPN.com