It's Stanford vs. UConn for National TItle

Sunday, Apr 4, 2010  |  Updated 9:07 PM PDT
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Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike (30) shoots over Oklahoma's Joanna McFarland in the second half of a semifinal in the Final Four of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Sunday, April 4, 2010, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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As the final buzzer sounded Sunday in San Antonio, the Stanford players rushed to congratulate each other on another big victory, sharing hugs and smiles, but that was it. 

The Cardinal know they have one more game to go before the real celebration begins.

With a 73-66 win over Oklahoma, Stanford is on to its third National Title game in school history.  And the Cardinal have won it all in both of their previous appearances.

"We're excited to be playing on Tuesday night," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "This is just great."

But for a team all along expected to contend for a National Title, the Stanford women sure are making things interesting in this tournament.

After relying on the last second heroics of Jeanette Pohlen just to make it into the Final Four, in Sunday's semifinals the Cardinal got another late scare, courtesy of the Sooners.

"I think we're a little jittery," VanDerveer said. "You know, we missed some really very makeable baskets."

Powered by Nnamkadi Ogwumike and her 38 points and 16 rebounds, Stanford looked poised to win easily, especially after leading by as many as 18 points late in the second half.  But then Oklahoma came to life.

"We talked about playing with fire and I think we lit that fire tonight," said Ogwumike, the Pac-10 player of the year.

Oklahoma used a 19-5 run to pull within four points with 1:28 remaining in the game.  It was a remarkable comeback, but the Cardinal cut it off there, holding off the Sooners with free throws to earn the win.

"They hit some big shots," VanDerveer said. "I knew they were never going to be out of it. They came back time and time again."

Stanford will now play for the title Tuesday night in San Antonio against Connecticut.

Connecticut has won 'em all this season, and Stanford has won 'em all except a game against the Huskies.

So it's only fitting that the women's national championship comes down to a rematch between them.

UConn will be going for its 78th consecutive win and a second straight unbeaten season, which has never happened in women's college basketball. Not that the Huskies need reasons to be confident, but it can only help knowing they've already beaten the Cardinal once this season and in the Final Four last season.

Then again, Stanford has some good vibes, too.

The Cardinal gave UConn its toughest game this season, losing by only 12. Stanford also was the last team to beat Connecticut, back in the 2008 Final Four. Plus, there's the fun of being the underdog.
     
 

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