Well after the final buzzer, Chiney Ogwumike darted across the court one last time to find big sister Nneka in the stands for a long celebratory embrace.
Ogwumike is carrying her team to Music City and one last Final Four she planned for all along, contributing 20 points and 10 rebounds in a night she wasn’t at her best as second-seeded Stanford beat North Carolina 74-65 on Tuesday night in the regional final on the Cardinal’s home floor.
“We’ve had so many people who just wanted to keep this year going,” Ogwumike said. “Sometimes people say you can’t win only on heart, but tonight I think we did.”
Mikaela Ruef scored a career-high 17 points on the way to regional MVP honors in front of the cheering Maples Pavilion crowd in Stanford, Calif., Amber Orrange added 14 and Bonnie Samuelson knocked down three 3-pointers for 13 points off the bench for Stanford (33-3), which had its streak of five straight Final Fours snapped last March.
Now, they’re headed to Nashville, Tenn., for the program’s 12th Final Four.
Allisha Gray scored 19 points for North Carolina (27-10).
• Maryland 76, Louisville 73: All-American Alyssa Thomas scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Terrapins advanced to their first Final Four since winning the 2006 national championship, holding off the Cardinals 76-73 Tuesday night in Louisville’s home arena.
Maryland (28-6) reached their fourth Final Four all-time. They pulled off their second straight upset in Louisville with this victory much harder in essentially a home game for the third-seeded Cardinals.
Shoni Schimmel scored 31 points, missing a tying 3-pointer off the back rim just before the buzzer. Louisville (33-5) missed a chance for a second straight Final Four with the Cardinals’ season ending shy of the national championship game they lost a year ago.
• ND’s Achonwa will miss Final Four: Notre Dame says forward Natalie Achonwa sustained a knee injury in the regional semifinal against Baylor and won’t be able to play for the Fighting Irish in the Final Four.
The school said Tuesday the 6-3 forward suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.