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Baylor, Stanford advance to NCAA women's basketball Final Four

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 30, 2010; D03

Jeanette Pohlen made the biggest play yet to save Stanford's spectacular season, on a night the Cardinal was a far cry from its dominant self.

Pohlen drove the length of the court for the game-winning layin as the final buzzer sounded, lifting top-seeded Stanford past third-seeded Xavier, 55-53, in the Sacramento Region final Monday night for a third straight trip to the Final Four.

Xavier's Dee Dee Jernigan missed two wide-open layups in the closing 12 seconds that likely would have sent the Musketeers to San Antonio for their first Final Four.

The Cardinal's Kayla Pedersen inbounded the ball underneath Xavier's basket to Pohlen with 4.4 seconds left. Pohlen dribbled all the way for the winning shot. The play was briefly reviewed, then Stanford erupted in celebration once the officials ruled the basket good.

"It was only four seconds left, so I had to weave my way in and out," Pohlen said. "But there was a lot [of time] to keep me going."

Xavier's Special Jennings collapsed to the floor, hands on her head, after the basket. Teammate April Phillips grabbed her head in disbelief while Stanford's players jumped for joy. While her teammates started cutting down the nets, Pohlen was held in a long embrace by fifth-year senior Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

These Musketeers stood up to Stanford for 40 minutes, all right. The top-seeded Cardinal needed every bit of grit it had to move on.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Kayla Pedersen added 18 points and 10 boards for the Cardinal (35-1), which survived an intense defensive matchup from the physical Musketeers to win their 26th straight game in a foul-filled affair at Arco Arena. They will next play in the national semifinals Sunday in San Antonio against the winner of Tuesday's matchup between Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Stanford overcame a cold first half in which it shot a season-low 25 went 7 for 28 and missed 10 of its 12 three-point tries. The 25 percent shooting was the Cardinal's worst half of the season and only the third time it was held below 30 percent.

Pohlen's basket was just here second all night.

"I'm really excited for Jeanette. She just stayed with it," Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Played the whole game. Made the big play."

Amber Harris scored 20 points and Phillips added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for Xavier (30-4), which saw its 21-game winning streak end.

Stanford had to win it with all-American center Jayne Appel on the bench as she fouled out with 3 minutes 58 seconds left. Xavier's 6-foot-6 Ta'Shia Phillips sat down with her fifth foul at 5:32.

-- MEMPHIS REGION: Youth nearly cost the Lady Bears a trip to Final Four, and ended up saving the day.

Celebrated freshman Brittney Griner caught a pass, spun around and hit a short jumper with 45 seconds left to propel fourth-seeded Baylor to a 51-48 win over No. 2 seed Duke in Memphis for its second trip ever to the Final Four in San Antonio.

"I knew we needed that bucket so I did everything I could to get position and to have [the defender] pinned behind me and step through and go up strong," Griner said.

The 6-8 Griner and her teammates hoisted Kim Mulkey onto their shoulders so the coach could cut down the net. Mulkey led the Lady Bears to their only other appearance in the national semifinals in 2005 en route to the national championship.

"I've never had players tall enough to lift me to cut the net so that's a first," Mulkey said.

Duke led the entire second half and held a 46-38 advantage with 4:59 left before a pair of free throws by Kimetria Hayden launched a 13-2 run for the Lady Bears (27-9).

Hayden, also a freshman, stole an inbounds pass by Joy Cheek and passed it to Melissa Jones for a layup with 2:10 left that pulled the Lady Bears within one. Jones, who finished with 10 points, also hit a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left, forcing Duke (30-6) to scramble.

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