The Stanford Cardinal own 2021.
It was a ridiculous season for Stanford women’s basketball. The team was required to spend weeks away from home – nine weeks, to be exact – during the regular season because of COVID-19 restrictions in their California county, and it got to the point where head coach Tara VanDerveer didn’t know if she could continue away from Palo Alto.
Well, she could, Stanford did, and now her team is the national champion.
The Cardinal narrowly outlasted No. 3 seed Arizona, 54-53, which was on a magical run of its own in its first-ever national championship game. Wildcats guard Aari McDonald, who ended the game with 22 points and was the hero for the team throughout this tournament, had a heave from the top of the key in the game’s final seconds, but it drew only iron.
This is only the third national championship in Stanford’s history and first since 1992, which is incredible considering how consistently in the mix the Cardinal have been over the years. Under VanDerveer, Stanford has made the NCAA Tournament every single year since 1988 and been to 27 Sweet 16s, 21 Elite Eights and 14 Final Fours in that time. This was the team’s first return to the title game since 2010.
It’s the second-straight game Stanford has won by one point, escaping South Carolina’s last-second attempt to upend it, too, in the Final Four. Haley Jones was a big reason why.
The sophomore, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after averaging 14.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in the event, put up a team-high 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field in the title game, plus nabbed eight rebounds Sunday night.
Now for some other news from across the sport this week:
Nothing But News: March 30-April 5, 2021
The men’s national championship game is set for No. 1 seed Gonzaga versus No. 1 seed Baylor – perhaps one of the most highly-anticipated men’s title games of all time. We got here from a blowout win for the Bears over No. 2 seed Houston in the Final Four and the Zags pulling off a buzzer-beating overtime victory over No. 11 seed UCLA in one of the best games ever played.
Roy Williams retired after 33 seasons – 18 at North Carolina, 15 at Kansas. He leaves the sport with three national championships (2005, 2009, 2017), nine Final Fours (1991, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017), 16 regular season conference titles, and seven conference tournament championships.
The Milwaukee Bucks signed Jrue Holiday to a four-year contract extension worth at least $134 million.
Now that the women’s NCAA Tournament is over, attention can turn to the 2021 WNBA Draft, which is set for April 15. CBS Sports broke down what each WNBA team should look for in the draft.
The conversation (or debate or argument, however you want to frame it) between Draymond Green and prominent female basketball players, as well as other female athletes, continued, this time with Green doubling down on his previous comments.
Get Caught Up on NBN Content!
Here’s a recap of some of our content from the last week:
When Was the Last Time Houston Made the Final Four?
Houston men’s basketball made the Final Four in 2021, the first time since 1984 – 37 years – that the program was in the national semifinal. Learn about the last time the Cougars made it to the tournament’s final weekend.
When Was the Last Time Connecticut Women’s Basketball Missed the Final Four?
UConn went to yet another Final Four in 2021 – its 13th in a row. The last time the Huskies didn’t make the national semifinal was 14 years ago in 2007. We took a look at the last Connecticut team to not reach the Final Four.
C.J. Wilcher, With Father’s Guidance, Creates Better Future
Two years ago, we spoke with then-recruit C.J. Wilcher about how his father has helped him aim to achieve the dream of a free college education. Wilcher is now living out that dream. This is the story of how he got there.
You Can’t Call Out the Transfer Portal & Not Chris Beard
Plenty of people have come out against the transfer portal and the number of transfers we’re currently seeing in college basketball, but if you’re going to do that, shouldn’t you have the same energy for Chris Beard, Shaka Smart, and all the other coaches who have transferred from school to school?