O.M.G. Too Much Ogwumike for Gonzaga
SPOKANE — Anything is possible in fairy tales. Anything is possible when you have Courtney Vandersloot. Anything is possible, except that is stopping the Ogwumike sisters and the top-seed Stanford Cardinal.In the NCAA women’s West Region final, the magical run of the 11-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs came to a screeching halt. Led by Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike, the bigger, stronger Cardinal muscled their way into their fourth straight Final Four with an 83-60 win Monday.
Gonzaga hung tough with the No. 2 team in America in the first half and it looked like Courtney Vandersloot might pull some wizardry one more time. The 5-foot-8 point guard from Kent came into the game as one of the tournament’s most compelling story lines, averaging more than 30 points and more than 10 assists a game in leading her team to three straight upset wins. In the first half Monday, Vandersloot scored 21 points, including a stretch in which she scored 16 straight for GU as Stanford took a 47-38 lead to the locker room.
With 1:14 left, Graves removed Vandersloot and the rest of the starters to a deafening ovation from the near-capacity crowd. Vandersloot was a pioneer in the world of Gonzaga basketball, leading her team to back-to-back Sweet 16s and its deepest run in program history. As she waved to the crowd, Graves’ arms engulfed her in an embrace.
“You saw the people here and the people following us, make no mistake about it, they’re Gonzaga fans,” Graves said. “But Courtney Vandersloot brought these people here and she deserves just a ton of credit for that. She has made Gonzaga women’s basketball cool and something that people notice and love. She’s transcended the game in these parts. I love that young woman with all of my heart.”