STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Alanna Smith hit the game-winning shot for a second straight game and No. 10 Stanford escaped with another win.
Smith hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left as Stanford scored the final nine points of the game to beat Arizona 56-54 on Friday night. She made a left-handed lay-up with three seconds to go to give the Cardinal a two-point win at Southern California last week.
“This team is gritty,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I couldn’t say that at the beginning of the year.”
Stanford trailed 54-47 before Lacie Hull hit a 3-pointer to start the game-ending run with 4:10 left, ending a nearly five minute scoreless streak for the Cardinal (22-4, 11-3 Pac 12). Smith then hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Stanford the lead.
“The path we took to defend that 3-pointer was not supposed to happen,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “They made us pay.”
Aari McDonald, who scored 20 points for the Wildcats, missed two free throws with 17 seconds left, but Arizona had a chance when Destiny Graham stole the Cardinal inbound pass after Stanford called timeout. McDonald’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer went in and out preserving the Cardinal’s win.
“We escaped,” VanDerveer said. “That ball looked like it was going in but somehow Maples Magic took over and knocked it out.”
Smith scored 21 points and had nine rebounds for Stanford. Hull added 15 points, all on 3-pointers.
“We’re doing the best we can trying to figure out how to get the ball to the right person at the right time,” Hull said. “We’re getting better at it.”
McDonald added a team high seven rebounds and six assists for the Wildcats (17-9, 7-9), who have not won at Stanford since 2001. Graham had 11 points.
“I’m proud of our fight and I’m proud of the plays we did make,” Barnes said. “For the last four minutes, Stanford made the big plays.”
Graham hit a 3-pointer with 8:06 remaining to play and Arizona took a five-point lead.
The Wildcats added a basket at 4:39, their final points of the game.
Stanford led for most of the game until Arizona took a 42-40 lead midway through the third quarter. McDonald hit a lay-up at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 47-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Hull’s 3-pointer late in the second quarter gave the Cardinal a 35-27 halftime advantage.
Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu may overshadow Arizona’s McDonald but the redshirt sophomore continues a sensational season. She’s the nation’s third-leading scorer and has reached double figures in every game this season. The last Arizona player to do so inn every game was Dee Dee Wheeler in 2003-04. McDonald is now within 13 points of Barnes’ Arizona single-season scoring record.
Stanford has been dominating the series with Arizona, winning 33 of the past 34 meetings. The only loss during that time was when Barnes was a player and she hit a shot at the buzzer in Tucson. “We’ve been on the other side,” VanDerveer said.
Arizona plays at California on Sunday.
Stanford hosts Arizona State on Sunday.
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