SAN ANTONIO — Stanford wasn’t about to let this happen twice.
Haley Jones grabbed a rebound and scored on a jumper with 32 seconds left and the Cardinal hung on for a 66-65 victory over South Carolina on Friday night in a do-over of the 2017 Final Four. Jones finished with 24 points, on 11 of 14 shooting, despite playing just nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Now Stanford will try and do what the Gamecocks did four years ago: go on and win it all. The Cardinal, the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA women’s tournament, will be seeking its first national title since 1992 when it plays the winner of Arizona-UConn Sunday night.
South Carolina trailed by as much as six in the fourth quarter, but Destanni Henderson ran off nine points, including a 3 with 39 seconds left, to give the Gamecocks a 65-64 lead. It was South Carolina’s first lead since the last minute of the first quarter.
But Jones got the ball after Lexie Hull’s miss and made the jumper. Aliyah Boston, who had been a one-woman wrecking crew for South Carolina, stole the ball with 5 seconds left. But Brea Beal missed a layup and, after grabbing the rebound in a scrum, Boston couldn’t make her shot at the buzzer fall.
Boston finished with 16 rebounds, 11 points and four blocks. Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 25 while Henderson had 18.
Hull had 18 for Stanford.
Jones scored nine of Stanford’s 12 points, but sat for the rest of the first half after picking up her second foul with one minute left in the first quarter. The Cardinal kept South Carolina in check without her, and then Jones came back and finished South Carolina off.
Follow colleges reporter Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour