By: Kyle Isaacs
Only one game away from the school’s first Final Four berth for either basketball program, the Xavier women’s basketball team lost 55-53 on a last-second buzzer-beater to No. 2 Stanford University in the 2010 Sacramento Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament.
The Musketeers’ season ended with a 30-4 record and the program’s second Elite Eight appearance.
The Cardinal and the Musketeers played an almost even first half, with Xavier trailing by two. With just under 12 minutes remaining in the second half, senior guard Dee Dee Jernigan made a basket and put the Musketeers up for the first time since the opening minutes.
Stanford responded with a 10-2 outburst to pull ahead with only five minutes remaining in the game. Xavier responded with a 9-0 run to edge Standford 51-49 with less than two minutes to play.
After some back-and-forth action, the Musketeers retained possession with 27 seconds left and a tied ball game.
Following an offensive set, Jernigan found herself open under the basket but could not convert the layup opportunity.
An offensive rebound by junior Amber Harris gave the Musketeers another shot at victory, but Jernigan missed her second attempt, giving Stanford the ball with four seconds remaining.
Stanford guard Jeanette Pohlen went coast-to-coast with the clock ticking down and finished at the basket as time expired, securing the 55-53 victory for the Cardinal.
Head coach Kevin McGuff said the Musketeers “were a little tentative to head her off” in hopes of not drawing a foul, which enabled her to pick up speed as she moved towards the rim.
Harris finished with a game-high 20 points and was named to the All-Sacramento Regional Team.
Fellow junior Ta’Shia Phillips, who fouled out with five minutes left, was honored with a nomination as well.
The final play was drawn up for Harris to attack off the dribble, but a double-team by Stanford forced the ball out of her hands.
“(Harris) made a great pass but the shot just didn’t go in,” McGuff said.
Despite the result, McGuff was effusive with his praise following the loss.
“I’m really proud of my team and the effort it put forth tonight,” McGuff said. “It was a tremendous basketball team to (coach).”