Haley Jones made the final basket of the game and Stanford came up with a pair of defensive stops in the last 30 seconds to defeat South Carolina 66-65 in the NCAA Tournament's Final Four semifinal Friday, April 2, at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Jones tallied 24 points and Lexie Hull posted 18 points as the Cardinal led almost the entire second half, but had to recover after falling behind in the last minute.
Stanford (30-2) meets the Arizona Wildcats in Sunday night's championship game.
The opening semifinal was a closely contested matchup in which every possession seemed crucial.
Zia Cooke poured in 25 points and Destanni Henderson, who nearly single-handedly carried the Gamecocks down the stretch, ended up with 18 points. Aliyah Boston had 11 points for South Carolina (26-5).
Stanford broke a 52-52 tie with six straight points. Henderson's 3-pointer cut the gap to 60-59 with 2:25 left.
Then trailing 64-59, Henderson scored the next six points with a three-point play followed by a 3-pointer at the 41-second mark that sent the Gamecocks into the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
Jones countered with a jumper following an offensive rebound before a South Carolina timeout. Then Ashten Prechtel of Stanford came up with a steal off Henderson.
Boston made a steal, but teammate Brea Beal and Boston, who was aiming for a winning putback, missed two potential go-ahead shots in the waning seconds.
Cooke racked up 21 of South Carolina's first 40 points, but the Gamecocks trailed 43-40 at the time.
Stanford led 31-25 at halftime and then scored the first basket of the second half and shortly after led 37-28. The Gamecocks pulled even at 45-45.
The Cardinal made five of six 3-point attempts through three quarters and missed both long-range shots in the final quarter. The Cardinal were 11-for-12 on free throws for the game.
South Carolina blew out Texas 62-34 in the regional final earlier this week. Stanford reached the 34-point mark just minutes into the third quarter.