One of the many appealing
things about March
Madness is that emotions get revealed in full view. Players
can’t hide behind
helmets or facemasks. They can’t retreat to the safe confines
of the dugout.
Intense emotions filled Arco Arena in the 2010 Sacramento Regional final, where the outcome came down to the final seconds.
No. 3 seed Xavier came excruciatingly close to ending 34-1 Stanford’s Final Four dreams. The Musketeers’ Dee Dee Jernigan missed not one, but two open layups in the last 12 seconds that would have broken a 53-53 tie. What turned out to be Xavier’s final possession ended when Kayla Pedersen snared a rebound of the second miss, calling timeout with four seconds left.
Jernigan stumbled to her bench, clutching her hands behind her head in disbelief.
on a night
where it shot a season-worst 25 percent (7-of-28) in the first
made sure it made the game’s most important basket.
Pedersen inbounded to junior guard Jeanette Pohlen, who received the ball just outside her own three-point line. She then outraced four Xavier defenders to the hoop beating the buzzer with a right-handed lay-up.
“Divine intervention,” was how Pedersen referred to Jernigan’s misses and Pohlen’s subsequent heroics.
Pohlen played all 40 minutes. She entered the final sequence with just four points on 1-of-5 shooting from three-point range, indicative of the Card’s struggled throughout. Xavier made this Card edition – the last Stanford women’s team to reach the national championship game – look downright inept at times.
Stanford converted just 35 percent from the floor in a game that featured 30 fouls.
“I’m really excited for Jeanette. She stayed with it and played the whole game and made the big play,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “At first I thought we’d take a time out, and then I said, ‘No, hell, just give her the ball and go to the basket.”
Pohlen got the glory, but it was Pedersen – a team-high 18 points alongside 10 rebounds – who emerged as the Card’s most valuable contributor on the night. Diving for loose balls and contesting every shot in her direction, she helped make up for Stanford’s shooting woes. Three comfortable victories in the 2010 NCAA tournament gave way to a rough and rumble Elite Eight affair.
Xavier (which finished 30-4) went through the Atlantic 10 unbeaten. The Musketeers entered the tournament as the nation’s fifth-ranked team, an accolade normally mutually exclusive from a No. 3 seed. The underdogs were in position to steal the win with 41 seconds left, with the Cardinal trailing 53-51. While Jayne Appel was sidelined with five fouls, Stanford’s fortunes took an even worse turn when Jernigan stole the ball from Pederson.
Stanford guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude then fouled Xavier’s Special Jennings, an 84 percent free throw shooter. But the air got too thick for the Musketeers’ guard, who bricked the front end of the one-and-one. Stanford rebounded the miss and soon knotted the score, with Pederson nailing a jumper on an assist from Pohlen.
Xavier’s ensuing trip down the floor featured an even bigger swing of emotion, with Jernigan’s two heartbreaking misses. Credit Stanford’s killer instinct – and Pohlen’s mad dash to the hoop – for this Houdini-like escape.