#12 South Dakota State Loses Late at #4 Stanford in NCAA Tournament
Sometimes it's not how you start, but how you finish that spells the difference between winning and losing, something South Dakota State knows all too well, after coming up just short at Stanford in round two of the 2016 NCAA Women's Tournament, falling 66-65 to the Cardinal.
It was exactly the start to the first and second halves the 12th seeded Jackrabbits needed against 4th seeded Stanford - beginning with a 5-of-5 shooting start, with all five starters scoring, and an early five-point lead, and no first quarter turnovers after giving the ball up 22 times against Miami (FL) in round one.
In the second half, SDSU took advantage of Stanford's misfortune, when Erica McCall went to the bench with foul trouble, sending the Jacks offense on a shooting tear, making 8-of-9, getting great balance from Macy Miller, Kerri Young, and Clarissa Ober to open up a four-point lead halfway thru the third quarter. That lead would eventually grow to 62-54 with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
But in both halves, the Cardinal were equal to the task, draining their first seven shots in the first, while the Jackrabbits couldn't sustain their early momentum, hitting just five of their next 26 shots (19%) to trail 33-27 at halftime.
In the second half, Stanford ramped up the defensive effort late to force SDSU mistakes. The Jacks had turned the ball over just three times in the first three quarters, but gave it back four times in the fourth, as they watched an eight-point advantage, with less that four minutes to play in the game, dwindle to just two with less than ten seconds left. That's when Lili Thompson cleaned up a botched Cardinal inbounds play and improvised her way to the rim, getting a layup and a foul. Her subsequent free throw gave Stanford a one-point lead with 8.2 seconds left. The home team ended the game on an 11-3 run.
SDSU got two looks at the basket as the clock wound down. Miller had her shot blocked and Young grabbed the loose ball for one last shot that didn't go in, and that was it.
Stanford won despite going just 10-of-22 from the free throw line. South Dakota State was shaky at the charity stripe as well, missing six of their 13 attempts.
McCall finished with her 17th double-double of the season (20 points, 12 rebounds), while Thompson added 19 points for Stanford.
Miller lead four SDSU double figure scorers with 19 points. Thompson added 14, Young 13, Ober 12. Miller also was the Jacks leading rebounder with eight boards. The Cardinal defense focused on SDSU freshman Madison Guebert, who led SDSU with 19 points against Miami. She finished 1-of-4 with two points.
South Dakota State finishes the season 27-7. Stanford goes to 26-7 and heads to the Sweet 16 to play #1 seed Notre Dame, Friday in Lexington, Kentucky.