Jed Conklin / Associated Press

Stanford players react in the second half of the Cardinal's loss to Georgia. For the first time since 2007, Stanford will not play for a spot in the Final Four.

Stanford streak is halted at five trips to Final Four

Published: Sunday, Mar. 31, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 31, 2013 - 6:55 am

SPOKANE, Wash. – Somehow the shock of seeing Stanford's run of five straight trips to the Final Four end prematurely didn't carry the same sting.

Along with the sense of disappointment came perspective for what the top-seeded Cardinal accomplished.

"I think the reason that I'm not going ballistic right now is like we're 33-3," Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. "That was a huge achievement for our program."

Still, it's surprising that for the first time since 2007, Stanford won't be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

Jasmine Hassell scored six of her 13 points in the final three minutes, and fourth-seeded Georgia beat top-seeded Stanford 61-59 on Saturday night to reach the NCAA women's regional finals for the first time since 2004.

Georgia overcame three scoring droughts, including falling behind 9-0, to oust Stanford from the Spokane Regional.

Jasmine James led Georgia (28-6) with 16 points, including two free throws with 23.5 seconds left that gave the Lady Bulldogs a 60-56 lead. It's the 11th trip to the regional finals in coach Andy Landers' long tenure at Georgia.

"To finally make the next step and go to the Elite Eight and now to be going into another game to try to compete to go to the Final Four is definitely back to where Georgia basketball needs to be, trying to compete for a national championship," James said.

Ogwumike led Stanford (33-3) with 26 points but was held to eight points in the second half. She also had 12 rebounds.

Amber Orrange added 17 points for Stanford but was only 7 of 24 from the field. The Cardinal shot 29 percent in the second half and struggled to find open looks for Ogwumike.

Second-leading scorer Joslyn Tinkle struggled with foul trouble in the first half and went more than 35 minutes of game time without scoring. She finished with five points.

The Cardinal already was playing without Toni Kokenis, then lost reserve Taylor Greenfield in the first half to a hand injury. That left Stanford with even fewer options to complement Ogwumike.

"We know that we can compete with these teams," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Obviously we competed, but we had to really go as hard as we could. We worked as hard as we could to get to where we are. And I'm disappointed because I have experienced more, going to the Final Four and winning a national championship, but I'm not disappointed with what this team accomplished."

Georgia overcame a five-minute scoreless drought to start the game, another five minutes with just two free throws late in the first half and a seven-minute lapse in the second half with just one basket that allowed Stanford to build a 42-34 lead with 11:50 remaining.

Still, the Lady Bulldogs hung around because Stanford made just 3 of 20 shots to start the second half. After Ogwumike scored 18 in the first half, Georgia made an adjustment to force more help on the Stanford star. It worked.

"In those instances, I try to look for my teammates more, because it's not a good look if I have two people to try to shoot," Ogwumike said. "And I think we got a few good looks out of that – it's just hard to face a double (team), as any player will tell you."

Then it was time for Hassell to show up in the final eight minutes. Her basket pulled the Lady Bulldogs even at 42-42, and the lead went back and forth with neither team leading by more than four points. Orrange dropped in a 16-footer for a 50-46 Stanford lead with 4:22 remaining before Georgia's closing surge.

Cal 73, LSU 63 in Spokane – Layshia Clarendon scored 19 points to lead Cal over LSU, sending the Bears to the round of eight for the first time in program history.

Gennifer Brandon had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Brittany Boyd added 14 points for second-seeded Cal (31-3), which will play Georgia in the Spokane Regional final Monday night.

Theresa Plaisance had 15 points and 12 rebounds for sixth-seeded LSU (22-12).

The Lady Tigers were in the game until a scoring drought late in the second half ended their chances. They were seeking their first berth in the round of eight since 2008.

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