Stanford’s Brittany McPhee scored 27 points as the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame in a regional final of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Even after Alanna Smith, Brittany McPhee and other Stanford players pulled off a huge rally to put the Cardinal in position to reach the Women’s Final Four, there still was work to do.
That’s when Erica McCall stepped up and blocked Notre Dame’s path.
Smith’s layup with 23 seconds left capped Stanford’s comeback from a 16-point deficit in the second half, McCall swatted a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 on Sunday for its first Final Four trip since 2014.
The Irish had the ball under their own basket with 2.2 seconds left and there was a series of timeouts before play resumed. Arike Ogunbowale caught the inbounds pass and drove to the basket, and McCall blocked the shot from behind.
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“She took a dribble, and I’m like, I’m going for it whether I get the foul or not,” McCall said. “I got a nice clean block off of it. We get the win. Whew, so I’m excited.”
McPhee, a graduate of Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, scored 27 points as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won its eighth game in a row. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA tournament, with the Cardinal winning the past two in the Lexington Regional.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer referenced the Bluegrass State’s horse-racing history in describing the victory at Rupp Arena.
“It took us awhile to get going,” she said, “but then when we got going, we were charging down that stretch and came across that finish line.”
Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame’s 17-game winning streak.
Ogunbowale finished with a team-high 25 points, and the Irish (33-4) put the ball in her hands at the end.
“It was a…