SAN ANTONIO — For the first time, two groups from the Pac-12 will struggle for the nationwide title in the N.C.A.A. girls’s match ultimate as top-seeded Stanford faces Arizona, a No. Three seed.
Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer likes the concept of the all-Pac-12 matchup.
“That would be awesome,” she stated after Stanford squeezed previous South Carolina in a good semifinal battle for its spot in the title recreation. “We’re rooting for Arizona. It would be really exciting, it’s just I think a credit to how competitive the Pac-12 is.”
She is not rooting for Arizona, which surprised top-seeded UConn, 69-59, in the nationwide semifinals on Friday evening.
Only six prior N.C.A.A. girls’s title video games have featured groups inside the similar convention: Three had been between Southeastern Conference groups, two had been inside the Big East and one was in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Stanford made it into the ultimate by the pores and skin of its tooth, defeating South Carolina, 66-65, then watched Arizona attain its first national-title recreation in program historical past.
“I’ve been saying all along: Pac-12 is the best conference in the country, hands down,” Arizona Coach Adia Barnes stated after the Wildcats routed the Huskies. “I think this is proof of it. Stanford won the Pac-12, we were second, and we’re playing for a national championship.”
In the championship recreation, Stanford will search its third title whereas Arizona will pursue its first. The ultimate begins at 6 p.m. Eastern time, and will probably be televised on ESPN.
Here are some things to observe:
It will probably be bodily.
Both of those groups make use of lots of ball stress and have the size to cowl the ground.
Stanford and Arizona are the greatest in the Pac-12 at defending shots. Arizona held UConn, with its sometimes high-octane offense, to its lowest-scoring recreation of the season in the nationwide semifinals. Stanford has been defending the rim with a mix of Cameron Brink, Fran Belibi and Anna Wilson.
“Usually defensively one of our strengths is our guard defense,” VanDerveer stated. “Anna Wilson has been a lockdown defender for us all year.”
And neither staff is afraid to foul or be fouled.
“Trapping Aari is very difficult,” Barnes stated of Arizona’s main contributor on Friday, Aari McDonald. “I think she did a good job of drawing fouls. Aari got fouled nine times in the game.”
Aari McDonald. Everywhere.
The Pac-12 participant of the yr has owned the Alamodome’s flooring, scoring a minimum of 26 factors in every of the previous three video games. She is lithe but highly effective, chopping via defenses and outrunning those that attempt to comprise her.
While she is commonly best when penetrating defenses, she can be harmful from the exterior: McDonald has been taking pictures nearly 42 % from past the arc in the postseason.
And she is a formidable defender, usually stealing the ball and changing turnovers into factors. She has additionally had greater than 5 defensive rebounds in every of the previous 4 video games.
“She’s really underrated on defense,” Barnes stated after the nationwide semifinal. “I thought in my mind she should have been the national defensive Player of the Year. There was no other player that impacts the game on both ends of the floor more.”
3-pointers stay the key for the Cardinal.
With stable defenders congesting the paint, it’s a good factor neither staff fears taking pictures from exterior.
Though it has taken Arizona a bit longer to get snug taking pictures from deep, the Wildcats have landed 42 3-pointers in this match, taking pictures 34 %. Stanford set a document in its win over South Carolina for made 3-pointers in the match with 56. UConn set the earlier document of 54 in 2015. The Cardinal had been 5 of eight on 3-pointers on Friday evening.
And Stanford has loads of gamers who can shoot: Kiana Williams is one among the Cardinal’s most dependable shooters, touchdown a 3-pointer in each recreation she had performed since early January till Friday evening. Despite that lapse, main scorers Haley Jones and Lexie Hull had been good on 3-point pictures.
“My teammates see me shoot at practice, I feel confident,” Jones stated in a postgame interview on Friday. “They just kind of instill their confidence in me when I don’t have it in myself.”
Though Stanford has prevailed in two earlier matchups with Arizona this season, Barnes is unafraid after coming this far.
“They’ve beat us twice this year: They have to beat us a third time,” she stated.