It was the third NCAA title for Stanford, after their previous two in 1990 and 1992. Cardinal’s head coach Tara VanDerveer managed to repeat the success from 29 years ago, becoming the person who waited the most between two championship titles in any college sport. What makes her achievement even greater is the fact that she spent all that time at Stanford.
Everything came down to one final possession in which Aari McDonald took the ball. Arguably the best player of the entire tournament tried to score, but Stanford’s defense did an excellent job, locking the Wildcats’ leader, who was a bit selfish in this situation. McDonald didn’t want to pass the ball even though she had three guards on herself. In the end, her desperate shot ended on the backside of the rim, and the Cardinal’s players started celebrating.
Heartbreak for Arizona. Stanford takes the 🏆 pic.twitter.com/EJGouDPOCN
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) April 5, 2021
Stanford was constantly in the lead, often having a double-digit edge, but allowing the rivals to erase the difference in the end and have the chance to snatch the title. Cardinal committed 21 turnovers, which was the most significant reason they hadn’t solved this match earlier.
On the other side, they would play excellent defense, limiting the opponent to just 28.3% of shooting from the field and to just 29 boards, while they secured 47.
Haley Jones had 17 points with 8 boards and was the top scorer among the winners. Lexie Hull posted a double-double with 10 points and boards each, while Cameron Brink added 10 buckets along with 8 rebounds. Ashten Prechtel was the sole contributor off the bench with seven points.
On the other side, McDonald scored 22 points, but shooting 5-for-21 from the floor, looking selfish on some occasions. She would also have 12 attempts from the free-throw line hitting eight.
Shaina Pellington was a massive help, having 15 points off the bench with seven rebounds, all that in 30 minutes. The next best thing among the Wildcats was Trinity Baptiste, who had seven points.
The Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four was Haley Jones, one of the biggest talents in college basketball. She was the No.1 recruit in 2019, but had injury problems that prevented her from showing all the qualities, and after that, COVID-19 interrupted the 202 campaign, once again, stopping Jones from shining. However, it all came back to her this year, leading the Cardinal to the national title and securing her a future among the pros.