Stanford women outlast Missouri State 55-46 in Sweet 16
CHICAGO (AP) — Alanna Smith and Stanford outlasted Missouri State for a 55-46 victory on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament, sending the cold-shooting Cardinal back to the Elite Eight for the third time in four years.
Stanford shot a season-low 25 percent (17 for 68) in one of its worst offensive performances of the season. But Smith and Anna Wilson supplied just enough scoring, and the Cardinal used their superior length to hold the 11th-seeded Lady Bears to 25.4 percent shooting (16 for 63), also a season low for the last double-digit seed left in March.
Next up for No. 2 seed Stanford (31-4) is defending national champion Notre Dame on Monday in the Chicago Regional final. The Fighting Irish advanced with an 87-80 victory over Texas A&M.
Danielle Gitzen had 14 points and eight rebounds for Missouri State, which had won seven in a row. Jasmine Franklin finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
It was Missouri State’s first appearance in the Sweet 16 since Jackie Stiles led the Missouri Valley Conference team to the Final Four in 2001.
Stiles, an assistant coach on Kellie Harper’s staff who remains the school’s career leading scorer with 3,393 points, could only watch this time around as the Lady Bears (25-10) struggled offensively for most of the day. Alexa Willard, who averaged 18.5 points in Missouri State’s first two wins in the NCAA tourney, finished with two points on 1-for-11 shooting.
The Lady Bears closed to 38-35 on Gitzen’s jumper with 1:04 left in the third quarter. But the Cardinal responded with an 11-1 run.
Shannon Coffee started the key sequence with a 3-pointer, one of just three treys in 29 attempts on the day for Stanford. Wilson closed it out with two foul shots and a layup with 5:27 left.
Wilson, the younger sister of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, scored seven of her 11 points in the second half. Russell Wilson and his wife, singer Ciara, took in the action from a pair of seats behind the Stanford bench.
Smith had 13 points and six rebounds. She also went 7 for 10 at the line to help Stanford hold on.
Missouri State: Gitzen is the only senior on the Lady Bears’ roster, so they could be back in the mix for another NCAA Tournament run next season. But Harper, a Tennessee alum, could be in the mix for the job at her alma mater.
Stanford: The Cardinal will have to be much better offensively to have any chance against Notre Dame.
Stanford takes on the top-seeded Irish on Monday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/WomensNCAATournament and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25