The first 1-seed has fallen in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, as the Stanford Cardinal lost on their home floor on Sunday night to 8-seed Ole Miss in a 55-49 defensive struggle.
The Rebels led throughout, taking an 18-13 advantage after the first quarter and never relinquished that lead, even as Stanford closed the gap in the second half, going so far as to get the game tied again in the final minute. However, Stanford’s inability to create good offensive looks against the swarming Ole Miss defense proved to be too costly to overcome, as they were never able to get a shot in the air to take the lead after pulling even on a pair of Cameron Brink free throws with 1:16 to play.
While Ole Miss’ offense likewise went cold from the field, their defense was able to come up with three consecutive turnovers to help them regain the lead for good, as Stanford’s execution on inbounds plays coming out of timeouts was woeful in the closing minute. First, it was a steal by Madison Scott who stepped in front of a Hannah Jump pass back to Haley Jones, with Jones getting called for a reach-in to send Scott to the line.
After Scott hit both free throws, Stanford advanced the ball and drew up a play for Jones, who along with Brink accounted for 36 of Stanford’s 49 points on the night. However, Jones got trapped in the post and lost the ball, with it bouncing between a defenders legs and out of bounds to give Ole Miss another possession — the call was upheld after a lengthy review.
From there, it was desperation time for Stanford but they couldn’t even get a shot up while trailing by four because an inbound to Brink, who had 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 blocks on the night, got picked off by Myah Taylor to seal the Rebels win.
Those three plays were indicative of the effort Ole Miss provided all night on the defensive end, as they held Stanford to just 32.7 percent shooting from the field, forcing 21 turnovers, and outrebounding the Cardinal 44-39. The Rebels offense wasn’t much better, shooting just 29.7 percent from the field, but they connected on threes (5-of-11) in a Stanford (2-of-7) could not and that proved to be the difference, alongside their incredible defensive effort. Angel Baker led the way with 13 points, while Marquesha Davis had 12, Madison Scott had 11, and Ayanna Thompson chipped in nine points off of the bench.
Aside from Brink and Jones (16 points), Stanford struggled mightily offensively and now finds itself as the first top-seed eliminated from the tournament, while Ole Miss will continue dancing into the second weekend.