NCAA Women's Tournament instant classic: Top five moments from Stanford's thrilling OT win over Iowa State



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If any game over the remainder of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament surpasses Stanford’s 87-81 overtime win over Iowa State in terms of clutch plays and excitement, we’re in for an all-time March Madness. The second-round showdown on Sunday night was an instant classic and is easily the front-runner for the best game of the tournament. 

The Cardinal were stunned in the second round of last year’s tournament, and nearly suffered the same fate this time around. Kiki Iriafen would not let it happen though, as she poured in a career-high 41 points to go along with 16 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. And neither would role players Talana Lepolo and Brooke Demetre, who each hit clutch 3-pointers in overtime to withstand a hot-shooting Cyclones team led by Emily Ryan. Ryan hit six triples en route to a career-high 36 points of her own, and the Cyclones went 12 of 19 from downtown as a team. 

There were 12 ties and 18 lead changes on the night, the last of which came with 19 seconds to play and gave Stanford the lead for good. With the victory, the Cardinal are on to the Sweet 16, where they’ll face the winner of NC State and Tennessee on Friday. Before then, let’s take a look back at the five best moments from Stanford’s thrilling win. 

5. Brink with words for the ref after fouling out?

This game was billed as a showcase between Iowa State’s star freshman Audi Crooks, who went off for 40 points in the Cyclones’ first-round win over Maryland, and Stanford senior Cameron Brink, who is projected to be the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA Draft next month. 

As it turned out, this was a night to forget for both centers. Crooks finished with just 10 points and eight rebounds on 3-of-21 shooting, while Brink spent most of the game in foul trouble, and was limited to eight points and eight rebounds herself — though she did add five blocks. 

She thought it should have been six blocks late in the fourth quarter, but the officials disagreed and issued her her fifth foul with 2:11 to play in regulation. As she walked off the floor in disbelief, Brink appeared to have some sharp words for the ref closest to her. 

4. Iriafen’s shot at the buzzer in regulation rims out

With 6.1 seconds to play, Stanford had the ball and a chance to win in regulation. There was no doubt about where the ball was going, and they got Iriafen isolated at the elbow. She tried to use her athleticism to drive past Crooks, but the freshman moved her feet well, slid right and cut off the angle to the basket. Iriafen was forced to fade away, but still got a clean look at the basket from just outside the paint. On another night, she wins the game at the buzzer, but this time the ball rolled off. Overtime. 

3. Ryan’s whirling 3 in OT

Ryan has been a key player for Iowa State ever since she arrived in Ames back in 2019, but in her first 118 career games, she had never had a night like this. The senior was running the show as both a scorer and a facilitator, and was directly responsible for 46 of the Cyclone’s 81 points. The best of the bunch came early in overtime when she brought the ball up the floor and dribbled a circle around Stanford’s defense. There were no fancy moves, she just kept on dribbling until she was suddenly wide open on the wing. Her 3 caught nothing but net and gave the Cyclones the lead. 

2. Brown and Lepolo’s back-to-back 3s

A few minutes into the extra frame, Iowa State was trailing by two and had the ball underneath the basket. Ryan heaved the inbounds pass up to Addy Brown at the top of the key, and the forward wasn’t waiting around. Brown came off a screen and buried a pull-up 3 to put the Cyclones up 72-71. 

Down on the other end of the floor, Stanford needed a response, and got one immediately. Lepolo brought the ball up the floor, gave it to Hannah Jump and continued to the corner. She got the ball back from Jump and drained a 3 of her own. Just 12 seconds after Brown had put Iowa State in front, Stanford re-took the lead, 74-72. 

1. Brown and Demetre’s back-to-back 3s

With just under a minute to play Iriafen hit a pair of free throws to put Stanford in front by two points. On the ensuing possession, Iowa State went back to Brown, who had the hot hand in overtime. The freshman was not afraid of the moment, and drained another 3 at the top of the key off the feed from Ryan. Her fourth 3 of the game put Iowa State up 81-80 with 31.1 seconds remaining. 

Once again, though, Stanford had an answer. It appeared as though they were setting up a play to get Iriafen posting up in the middle of the lane, but the ball went first to Demetre at the top of the key. Instead of dumping the ball down to Iriafen, who did have her defender sealed, Demetre let it fly. 

Her shot was pure, and put Stanford back in front, 83-81. The Cardinal would not trail again, and held on for the season-saving win, which won’t be forgotten any time soon. 





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