LEXINGTON, Ky. — Even after Alanna Smith and Stanford pulled off a huge rally to put Stanford in position to reach the Final Four, there still was work to do.

That’s when Erica McCall stepped up and blocked Notre Dame’s path.

Smith’s layup with 23 seconds left capped Stanford’s comeback from a 16-point deficit in the second half, McCall swatted a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 Sunday for their first Final Four trip since 2014.

The Irish (33-4) had the ball under their own basket with 2.2 seconds left, and there was a series of timeouts before play resumed. Akire Ogunbowale caught the inbounds pass and drove to the basket, and McCall blocked the shot from behind.

“She took a dribble, and I’m like, I’m going for it whether I get the foul or not,” McCall said. “I got a nice clean block off of it. We get the win. Whew, so I’m excited.”

Brittany McPhee scored 27 points as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won their eighth in a row. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA tournament, with the Cardinal winning all three.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer referenced the Bluegrass State’s horse racing history in describing the win at Rupp Arena.

“It took us a while to get going,” she said, “but then when we got going, we were charging down that stretch and came across that finish line.”

Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame’s 17-game winning streak.

Ogunbowale finished with a team-high 25 points, and the Irish put the ball in her hands at the end.

“It was a screen for Arike,” Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said of the final shot. “She was wide open and she probably could have shot it. That’s hindsight.”


MISSISSIPPI STATE 94, BAYLOR 85: Morgan William scored a career-high 41 points, and No. 2 seed Mississippi State (33-4) upset top-seeded Baylor (33-4) in overtime to reach the Final Four for the first time.

William, a 5-foot-5 guard, was chosen Most Outstanding Player of the regional. She set a school record for points in an NCAA tournament game.

Victoria Vivians scored 24 points and Teaira McCowan added 10 for Mississippi State.

Kalani Brown scored 27 points and Nina Davis had 18 for Baylor, which lost in the Elite Eight for the fourth consecutive year.

William made a 3-pointer to give Mississippi State a 73-68 lead in regulation, but Baylor responded with a 7-0 run, and Brown’s basket put the Bears ahead by two. William’s layup with 22 seconds left tied the game at 75 and forced overtime.

The game featured 24 lead changes.