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SC women beat Stanford 62-53 in Final Four

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A year later, McCall was a key reserve when Stanford played in the NCAA women's basketball Final Four as a freshman.

We'll have up-to-the-minute scoring and stats here throughout the game.

"It just didn't seem like we connected with the players, and it didn't seem like the players connected with us because we were very serious about our craft", Staley said of her early years in Columbia. "We have players that are really good at certain things and they've got to do those things". They missed their first eight shots of the second quarter, when the Cardinal asserted themselves.

"Quite honestly, we needed Brit out there", VanDerveer said. "That was disappointing for us".

Some new blood is filling in for the blue bloods at the Final Four, with the Bulldogs pulling their stunner in their first trip to the semifinals and the Gamecocks taking over in the second half of their second visit and beating frequent semifinalist Stanford 62-53.

Stanford (32-6) took a big hit when she sprained her right ankle with about 4 1/2 minutes before halftime after the Cardinal had taken an eight-point lead with a 13-1 run. Whenever Stanford has been in a funk it has usually required a group effort to get back on course. The program was on the ascent, and she was the top recruit in the country.

But as Auriemma pointed out, these numbers don't have all that much to do with the games about to be played.

But South Carolina held Stanford to 30 percent shooting and 24 points in the second half. "We have seen them so many times that they probably know us better then we know ourselves", Wilson said. I mean, keep shooting. We battled back in the fourth quarter.

"They throw up statistics on the television screen like 0-for-5 coaching against her and you think at some point the law of averages will play out", Staley said with a smile.

South Carolina's offense struggled to get any rhythm going in the first half and particularly in the second quarter. That swung the game to the Gamecocks.

Wilson wouldn't let them.

Wilson ended the evening with 13 points on 5-11 shooting and 19 rebounds for the Gamecocks, yet junior guard Allisha Gray took control of the SC offense down the stretch, scoring 13 of her 18 points in the second half including knocking down a dagger and-one layup late in the fourth quarter.

South Carolina All-American A'Ja Wilson added 13 points and pulled down a game-high 19 rebounds.

"We're a team that relies on putting the ball on the floor, ball screen action, and some passing", Staley said. And now you won't find too many bigger Wilson fans than Balcomb. Coates has not played in the NCAA tournament nor, oddly, even been on the bench.

Player of the half: Stanford's Erica McCall. "We have to try out best to contain her. Not everyone knows just how much she does for us, on and off the court".

She was going to be the aggressor, a physical presence who would fearlessly drive the ball into the paint, who would initiate contact and make tough baskets. She had a layup attempt blocked at the end of regulation.

Smith hit a 3-pointer to cut South Carolina's lead to 53-50, but Stanford couldn't get any closer.

The South Carolina Gamecocks had other ideas. McCall finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds and Smith had 14 points and 12 boards.

But so often the calming effect was on the court with them.

The women's Final Four begins Friday night in Dallas. Here's what they had to say.

It has been 25 years since the Cardinal last won a national championship, in 1992, and VanDerveer has said this team reminds her a lot of that team, which she used to call a "Bucket of Bolts" team. I'm proud of my school.

The Women's Final Four doesn't lack for any of the following things people love about sports "on the grandest stage". "Of the 1,000 wins that she has, I'm one of the defeated teams".

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