South Carolina’s missed putback late sends Stanford into women’s NCAA tournament championship game

SAN ANTONIO — In a battle of No. 1 seeds in the first semifinal of the women’s Final Four on Friday, Stanford survived 66-65 against South Carolina to advance to Sunday’s championship game.

Haley Jones, who led Stanford with 24 points, hit a jumper off a rebound to give the Cardinal a one-point lead with 32 seconds left in a game that had a wild finish.

“I just saw the ball bouncing around and most of my teammates were hitting some bodies to open it up. I just let it fly and I said, ‘Please, Jesus, go in,’ and it did,” Jones said of what would end up being the game-winning shot. “And then we just had to go on to the next play, there’s no time to get hyped about, we had to get back on defense.”

After a timeout, South Carolina inbounded the ball and Aliyah Boston had a shot blocked by Cameron Brink but got her own rebound before a steal by Ashten Prechtel gave the ball back to Stanford.

After a South Carolina foul, the Cardinal inbounded the ball to Brink, but it got away from her and the Gamecocks had a chance at the winning basket. Brea Beal missed the shot on a drive to the basket, and Boston followed with a putback at the buzzer that also missed.

“Bre had a great shot. Aliyah, we should’ve boxed her out, she had a great shot. Thankfully, it didn’t go in and we’re moving on to Sunday,” Jones said.

Both teams struggled inside in facing each other’s strong defense, but the Gamecocks were especially affected, finishing 11-of-37 in the paint. Stanford will go for the program’s third NCAA title on Sunday.

The Cardinal will face the winner of the UConn-Arizona game.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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