In this national semifinal game, Stanford reversed the pattern of the three previous games: Instead of trailing at the half and coming back in the third to win, they went into the half with a healthy nine-point lead and in the third were stifled, leading to a loss.
This closed out a winning season, and wrapped up the college careers of Karlie, Bird and Bri. Indeed, late in the second quarter it looked as if Karlie's career was ending prematurely: Going around a screen she tangled with the other player, went down, and stayed down. She was helped up but appeared to be unable to walk, favoring her right leg. Alanna picked her up and carried her from the floor. Everyone in the crowd of 500 red-shirted fans were thinking the worst.
For the rest of the quarter the Cardinal played with unusual intensity and ended the half, as mentioned, leading by nine, 29-20.
To every fan's delight, when the team returned to the floor, Karlie was with them, apparently moving normally. She played only a few minutes in the second half, and finished with no points, but at least she didn't go out from a serious injury.
In the third quarter the Cardinal hit the kind of scoring drought they had previously imposed on OSU and Notre Dame: for nearly seven minutes nothing fell, while the Gamecocks forged a 17-4 run to take command of the game. Despite coming within three in the fourth quarter, Stanford could not stop South Carolina's "bigs" long enough to get ahead.
This game closed a season in which Stanford won the PAC-12 tournament in dramatic fashion and won four post-season games to reach the Final Four. The three departing seniors went out with style:
Although Karlie ended this game with no points, she played 26 minutes despite an injury. Had she only hit one three-point shot, she would have broken the Stanford single-season record for threes. As it stands, she merely tied it.
Bri left the floor with five points and three assists and a record of lock-down defensive play.
Bird finished in her accustomed style, a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, plus two blocks.
Among the players that will be integral to next season's team:
Alanna had a double-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks -- one of them of the 6-5 A'ja Wilson.
Brittany had eight points, three assists, and a block.
Marta had eight points, two steals, and six assists. One of the assists was a half-court pass to Brittany in the corner for a three.
Kaylee had two points, five rebounds and two steals in only 13 minutes on the floor.
Nadia and DiJonai had short minutes in relief, and DiJonai scored once.
This very special team will head back to Palo Alto with the satisfaction of knowing they were one of the four best teams in the nation. The staff and fans will be able to look ahead to a new season with solid play as well as an exciting class of freshmen.
Here are game reports and commentary:
- South Carolina Ousts Stanford, the Associated Press game recap (posted by Stanford Athletics)
- Gamecocks Rally Past Stanford 62-53 To Secure First Berth In Title Game, the South Carolina Athletics game recap
- South Carolina women’s basketball advances to first national title game by Mike Wilson (SEC Country)
- One win away: Gamecocks advance past Stanford and into championship game by Matt Connolly (The State)
- South Carolina rallies past Stanford to make NCAA women’s title game by Gene Wang (Washington Post)
- South Carolina ends Stanford’s season in NCAA semifinals by Tom FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Stanford falls to No. 3 South Carolina by Elliott Almond (Mercury News) , includes AP photo gallery
- Robin Roberts visits USC locker room after beating Stanford, stars flock to American Airlines Center for Final Four by Grace Raynor (The Post and Courier)
- Karlie Samuelson, Stanford's senior class' run comes to an end by Michelle Smith (espnW)
- Allisha Gray comes up big for Gamecocks in second half vs. Stanford by Matt Connolly (The State)
- WBB: South Carolina 62 Stanford 53 from the CARDboard
The game highlights video from the NCAA
The game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,
Interviews with the players in the locker room after the game,
And the video press conference with Tara, Bird and Alanna,