KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 29 -- Finally, the Michigan State women are bringing a little balance to the school's basketball trophy case.
"We always looked across the hall and saw on the men's side all the hardware they've got," guard Kristin Haynie said. "Then we looked at ours and we didn't have any -- till this year."
Liz Shimek (24 points, 10 rebounds), right, and Kelli Roehrig pester Sebnem Kimyacioglu of Stanford. Michigan State advanced to its first-ever Final Four.
(Dave Kaup -- Reuters)
Now they have a chance to add an even bigger trophy to their growing collection. Move over, Spartan men. You've got company. The women are going to the Final Four, too -- for the first time in the program's history.
Liz Shimek made some huge plays down the stretch, Lindsay Bowen got her only basket at a critical time and the top-seeded Spartans beat No. 2 seed Stanford, 76-69, in the Kansas City Region final Tuesday night.
"Well, I tell you, Michigan State is the best," Coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "The people are amazing, the homegrown talent is very special. And we're so proud of our men's team -- we're going too, baby! We're going too! I can't wait!"
The Spartans (32-3) had never before made it past the second round in five previous NCAA tournament appearances. This Sunday night they will play Tennessee in the national semifinals in Indianapolis.
Michigan State becomes the sixth school to send teams to both the men's and women's Final Four in the same year. Connecticut did it last year and each team won the national title, the only time that has happened.
Could it happen again? Michigan State now has that chance, but it wasn't easy, even after the Spartans took a 13-point lead against the team that was ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll -- but lost out on the No. 1 seed to Michigan State.
Stanford (32-3) came back to tie the score three times, but never got the lead and its 23-game winning streak ended, denying the Cardinal a seventh Final Four trip.
"You dream about this moment and you dream about going to the NCAA Final Four and it hurts so much and you're so close," said Candice Wiggins, Stanford's brilliant freshman who scored 19 points.
Stanford drew to 70-69 on Wiggins's three-point play with 43 seconds left. But Bowen, who had been 0 for 7, answered with her only basket, a 15-footer with 27 seconds to go.
"As a shooter you have to stay with it," Bowen said. "I was looking for a shot all night long. I finally got it and I hit it."
When Stanford's Kelley Suminski missed a three-point shot, Bowen was there for the rebound, producing a fast-break layup by Kelli Roehrig. And Bowen stole the ball at the end to make two final free throws.
Haynie, who went 4 for 4 on three-pointers and finished with 20 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds for the Spartans, was named the region MVP.