Stanford Falls Short Against Texas A&M
By Michelle Smith
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A brilliant season came to a harsh and sudden end.
Texas A&M's Tyra White scored on a lay-up with 3.3 seconds to go to send the Aggies into the national championship game with a 63-62 win over Stanford at the NCAA Women's Final Four at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Stanford's season ended at 33-3, the Cardinal heading to the Final Four for the fourth straight season and finishing without a title.
The Cardinal got an inside basket from junior forward Nneka Ogwumike with 9.2 seconds left in the game to give Stanford a 62-61 lead.
But White was able to score at the other end on a feed from senior guard Sydney Colson and Stanford's attempt at a lob pass on the in-bounds with 3.3 to go was stolen by Colson, setting off the Aggies' celebration.
It was a difficult day for Stanford in many respects.
The Cardinal got limited minutes from freshman Chiney Ogwumike, who was limited to just 19 minutes because of foul trouble. She finished with four points and four rebounds, fouling out with 4:31 to go.
Stanford committed a season-high 22 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the Aggies.
Stanford twice had 10-point leads in the game. The last was a 54-44 advantage with 6:01 to go. Each time, the Aggies charged back.
"We had them down and we didn't knock them out," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We had to do some things that we didn't have to do all season long against anyone else. We needed a little more help."
Stanford was led with 31 points from Nneka Ogwumike, who was 10 of 15 from the floor and 11 of 14 from the free-throw line.
"I definitely give (A&M) kudos for that defense," Ogwumike said. "It was really hard to get open. And we really tried our best."
Senior guard Jeanette Pohlen finished with 11 points, the only other Stanford scorer in double figures, with all three of the Cardinal's three-pointers. Pohlen left the game in the final seconds with an ankle injury.
"It's hard," Pohlen said. "We definitely knew they were an aggressive team, and got a lot of steals but it's really hard to simulate that in practice…I feel like I could have done a much better job taking care of the ball. When we really needed to show our presence and our poise, I feel like I didn't really handle that as well as I could have."
Fellow senior Kayla Pedersen broke the Pac-10 rebounding record (1,266) with her 10-rebound performance. She finished the game with four points, four assists and four blocked shots.
Fifth-year senior Melanie Murphy came off the bench and scored eight points for the Cardinal with four assists and three steals.
Pedersen paid tribute to her teammates through tears after the game.
"This is an awful feeling," Pedersen said. "The hardest part isn't losing the game, it's leaving these girls. I'm happy to be with them now and I'm happy to lose with this team, if we did have to lose."
A&M got a game-high 18 points from Tyra White. Leading scorer Danielle Adams finished with 16 points and six rebounds and junior guard Sydney Carter hit 4 3-pointers.
The Aggies (32-5) making their first-ever appearance in the Final Four, advance to the national championship game.
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