LEXINGTON, Ky.

Chantel Osahor and Kelsey Plum always believed they could help make Washington a championship-caliber program.

They signed with the Huskies as out-of-state recruits even though Washington had never reached the Final Four and hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2006. Their faith was rewarded Sunday when the junior tandem led the seventh seeded Huskies to an 85-76 victory over No. 4 seed Stanford in the NCAA Lexington Regional women’s basketball final.

Osahor, selected the regional’s most valuable player, matched a career high with 24 points and had 18 rebounds. Plum, who began the day as the third-leading scorer in Division I, had 26 points and eight assists.

Their efforts made Washington the first team seeded seventh or lower to reach a Final Four since Minnesota got there in 2004. Washington (26-10) will face Syracuse (29-7) in a semifinal April 3 in Indianapolis.

This marked the first regional final between two Pac-12 schools since Stanford beat Southern California 82-62 on its way to winning the national championship in 1992, when the conference was still known as the Pac-10.

Washington scored the game’s first 12 points, had a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and stayed ahead the rest of the way.

Stanford (27-8) pulled to 78-73 on Lili Thompson’s 3-pointer with 1:07 left. An offensive foul on Plum allowed Stanford to get the ball back, but Thompson missed a 3-pointer with a minute remaining.

Washington went 7 of 8 on free throws in the final minute.

Thompson scored 19 points for Stanford (27-8), which was seeking its 13th Final Four appearance overall and seventh in the last nine seasons. Erica McCall added 17 points — all in the second half — and 15 rebounds.

This was the third meeting of the season between these two conference foes. Stanford won 69-53 at home on Jan. 29. Washington beat the Cardinal 73-65 on March 4 in the Pac-12 Tournament at Seattle.

Osahor, who had shot a combined 3 of 13 and had averaged just 4.5 points in those two previous games, was a model of efficiency Sunday.

Osahor’s physical presence early in the game also helped Washington hold McCall scoreless in the first half.

Stanford cut Washington’s lead to 67-63 with 7:19 left after Karlie Samuelson, Thompson, Marta Sniezek and McCall hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.

The Cardinal had the ball with a chance to cut further into the lead when Plum made a steal and drove to the basket. Although Plum missed her layup, Talia Walton delivered a putback that made it 69-63 with 6:23 remaining.

Stanford made one more charge in the closing minutes, but Plum wouldn’t allow Washington to fold. She scored 19 points in the second half to help Washington earn that Final Four bid she always believed was a realistic goal.

Syracuse 89, Tennessee 67

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Alexis Peterson scored a season-high 29 points, Brianna Butler hit three straight 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to break open the game, and Syracuse advanced to its first women’s Final Four with a victory over Tennessee in the Sioux Falls Regional final Sunday.

The fourth-seeded Orange (29-7) will play No. 7 seed Washington in a national semifinal next Sunday in Indianapolis.

Reserve Cornelia Fondren made all six of her shots and finished with 13 points to help Syracuse follow its Friday upset of top-seeded South Carolina with its 15th victory in 16 games.

Diamond DeShields scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Vols (22-14) in the loss that finished their surprise NCAA run after a 13-loss regular season that was the worst in program history.

Tennessee was trying to reach its 19th Final Four and first under fourth-year coach Holly Warlick. The Lady Vols haven’t made it to the national semifinals since 2008, the year they won their last of eight championships.

The Lady Vols were without starting guard Jordan Reynolds, who was out with a concussion after getting hit in the face against Ohio State. Te’a Cooper made her first start since Feb. 25 and had eight points after coming off the bench to score 16 against the Buckeyes.



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