Sunk! Suminski's late trey ousts Commodores, 57-55

NORMAN, Okla.-- Stanford's Kelley Suminski sank a 3-point shot with 0.3 seconds left to give the sixth-seeded Cardinal a 57-55 win over second-seeded Vanderbilt Sunday in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals. The loss ended Vanderbilt's season, while the Cardinal advanced to face Tennessee in the regional finals.

NORMAN, Okla.-- Stanford's Kelley Suminski sank a 3-point shot with 0.3 seconds left to give the sixth-seeded Cardinal a 67-65 win over second-seeded Vanderbilt Sunday in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals. The loss ended Vanderbilt's season, while the Cardinal advanced to face Tennessee in the regional finals.

Vanderbilt had the ball and a 55-54 lead with 45 seconds left, but was unable to get off a shot and turned the ball over on a shot clock violation with 0:11.2 left. Stanford All-American Nicole Powell dribbled the length of the floor, and penetrated inside the key before passing back to Suminski for the winning shot.

"It was almost surreal," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "The clock was going down, Nicole found her and she knocked down the shot. It was just beautiful."

With the clock showing 0:00.3, Vanderbilt inbounded the ball to Dee Davis, who launched an 85-foot shot that was nowhere close.

"That was obviously a very tough game to lose," said Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb. "It just came down to we didn't execute in the end and make free throws, and they did."

In the end, Vanderbilt may have been done in by uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting. The Commodores hit only 8-of-15 free throws, 6-of-11 in the second half.

Senior Hillary Hager (13 points) led four Vanderbilt scorers in double figures. Ashley Earley added 12, Jenni Benningfield scored 11 and Davis finished with 10.

In the first half Stanford's Powell was dominant, finishing the period with 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in pushing the Cardinal to a 35-26 halftime lead. Stanford led by as much as 12 points in the first period.

But Powell went cold in the second half, and the Commodores capitalized. They roared back with an 11-2 run to tie the game at 37-37 at the first media timeout.

"We wanted to get after her a little bit more in the second half," Balcomb said, "so we had Dee attack her off the dribble."

Vanderbilt took its first lead of the game at 52-50 on a pair of Benningfield free throws with six minutes left. The Commodores led 55-52 with 2:37 left and had three offensive opportunities down the stretch to build on that lead, but were unable to do so.

Powell hit a pair of free throws with 0:43 left to cut the lead to 55-54. After the Commodores gave up the ball on a shot clock violation, the officials reviewed the play on the monitor and set the game clock back to 11.2 seconds, setting up Suminski's heroics.

"We were looking for Nicole to get the last shot," Suminski said. "I saw her penetrating and I went to slide behind her in case someone went to help and they did. She made a great pass and I don't know what happened after that. I'm lucky it went in."

Powell led all scorers with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Suminski added 11 for the Cardinal, while T'Nae Thiel added 10.

It was a game in which both defenses dominated, and neither team shot well from the floor. Stanford shot just 43%, Vanderbilt 42%. The Cardinal out-rebounded Vandy 33-28.

Vanderbilt ended the 2003-04 season 26-8. Stanford's (27-6) victory brought the Commodores' winning streak to an end at ten games.


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