The No. 1 Stanford Cardinal hold off the No. 3 Arizona Wildcats to win the National Championship Game 54-53.
College basketball fans sure have been spoiled in the past 24 hours. After the UCLA-Gonzaga Final Four, the Women’s National Championship gave it a run for its money.
On Sunday, the top-seeded Stanford Cardinal held on to defeat the No. 3 Arizona Wildcats 54-53 to win their first NCAA women’s title since 1992. Stanford emerged with the victory, but Arizona fought until the very end
Here are three takeaways from the National Championship Game.
Stanford’s clutch defense on the final possession
With seconds remaining in the contest, Stanford tried to run out the clock and extend their 54-53 lead over Arizona. The thing is, the Wildcats’ defense was too much, as they forced a shot clock violation and gained possession with 6.1 seconds remaining.
Arizona inbounded the ball and the ball was left in Aari McDonald’s hands, the team’s most valuable player. Stanford sent three players to guard McDonald, who had no choice to let off a shot before the buzzer and nearly made it. However, the shot bounced off the rim and clinched the victory for Stanford.
Credit needs to be given to head coach Tara VanDerveer for drawing up that play on the final possession.
— Stanford Women’s Basketball (@StanfordWBB) April 5, 2021
Aari McDonald’s clutch performance
Throughout Arizona’s magical run to the National Championship Game, senior guard Aari McDonald has shined in every single game. The same can be said during the big game against Stanford.
With Arizona down 51-47 with a little over three minutes remaining in regulation, McDonald hit a clutch three-point shot that brought them within one point. McDonald did the same with less than a minute to go in the game, as she successfully converted two free throw attempts after getting fouled by Anna Wilson. Then, there was the final shot of the game, which she barely missed with three players defending her.
McDonald tallied 22 points (5-for-20 from field, 8-for-12 on free throws), three rebounds, two assists and two steals. With this performance in the books, McDonald has now scored 112 points in her last four games.
While she did not leave with the trophy, everyone will remember how clutch McDonald was during the NCAA Women’s Tournament.
Stanford overcomes turnover woes to win
Stanford may have hoisted the trophy on Sunday evening, but it did not come easy at all. They had to contend with Arizona’s stifling defense.
In the entire game, Stanford turned the ball over a staggering 21 times against Arizona, with 15 coming from the entire starting lineup. The one player who gave Stanford fits was junior guard Bendu Yeaney, who recorded five steals through four quarters.
Despite the turnover woes, Stanford was able to outscore Arizona by shooting 42.1-percent from the field, as opposed to Arizona’s 28.8. With this being the final game of the season, Stanford alum and fans will not be downtrodden by the amount of turnovers. They are National Champions.
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