STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Andrew Calder exhaled and finally expressed just how much North Carolina missed Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell, in crunch time and at halftime. In the locker room and on the bench.
Her virtual game plans proved plenty helpful along the way, yet the young North Carolina women's team ran into quite a task Tuesday night: winning the Stanford regional on the Cardinal's home court while trying to stop a determined senior duo of Chiney Ogwumike and Mikaela Ruef.
Allisha Gray scored 19 points for No. 4 seed North Carolina in a 74-65 loss, denying the Tar Heels (27-10) a Final Four reunion with Hatchell after the coach's season-long battle with leukemia.
"We did some things at the end I wish we could replay," said Calder, the associate coach who admirably filled in during Hatchell's ordeal. "I'm not going to look back. Having a Hall of Fame coach on the bench could have made a difference."
Ogwumike had 20 points and 10 rebounds on a night she wasn't her best, Ruef scored a career-high 17 points on the way to regional MVP honors in front of the cheering Maples Pavilion crowd and Stanford returns to the Final Four for the sixth time in seven years after last year's disappointing miss.
Amber Orrange added 14 and Bonnie Samuelson knocked down three 3-pointers for 13 points off the bench for Stanford (33-3), which heads to Nashville, Tenn., for the program's 12th Final Four.
Diamond DeShields was limited to 13 points on 5 for 15 shooting for North Carolina, missing all but one of her six 3-point tries.
DeShields played with no signs of injury after the freshman star sprained her right ankle and tweaked her left knee during a semifinal win against South Carolina on Sunday night. She said they'd have to strap her down to keep her off the court for this game.
DeShields, the one Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said wears No. 23 at North Carolina for a reason in reference to Michael Jordan, never found the groove that made her a nemesis for defenses nationwide during a sensational rookie college season.
"I refuse to make excuses. I felt able enough to go out and give it 100 percent," she said. "There were moments where the momentum could have changed for us. There were a couple of iffy fouls called, a lot of stuff happened that could have helped."
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