For the second-straight NCAA Match, the Stanford Cardinal confronted a fourth-quarter deficit on their residence court docket in the second spherical, staring down the opportunity of a shocking upset.

Because the Pac-12 participant of the 12 months Cameron Brink spent many of the night time in foul bother towards No. 7 Iowa State, the No. 2 Cardinal turned to their different twin tower to carry them residence. After being restricted to 5 scoreless minutes off the bench in the 2023 loss to Ole Miss, Kiki Iriafen scored 41 factors, tied for ninth all-time in a single NCAA Match sport, and added 16 rebounds and 4 assists, main Stanford to an 87-81 victory in extra time. The Cardinal superior to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of No. 3 NC State vs. No. 6 Tennessee.

There was nothing Iriafen couldn’t do. The convention’s most improved participant scored in each which means towards Audi Crooks and the No. 7 Cyclones. She drilled jumpers. She confronted up from a distance and blew previous her defender. She posted up and completed by way of contact. Iriafen was additionally large on protection, forcing first-round darling Audi Crooks into 3-of-21 taking pictures as Iowa State collectively shot 12 of 27 on layups.

Stanford wanted the whole lot out of Iriafen in a sport that was in the steadiness for 45 minutes. Neither staff led by greater than two possessions after the primary quarter. There have been 12 ties and 18 lead adjustments, and Iowa State was up 1 with 31 seconds to play earlier than a cold-blooded 3-pointer from Brooke Demetre proved decisive. Demetre collected the rebound after Addy Brown missed the potential tying bucket on the next possession, and the Cardinal — and the nervous residence crowd at Maples Pavilion — may lastly breathe.

In what ought to develop into an instantaneous basic, Iowa State delivered the primary blow. The Cyclones went up seven in the primary quarter thanks to scorching taking pictures past the arc and regular playmaking from senior guard Emily Ryan, who cashed in three triples of her personal. Stanford placed on the clamps in the second quarter and squeezed simply sufficient offense out of Iriafen and taking pictures guard Hannah Leap to pull inside two, establishing a barn burner of a second half.

Ryan was dazzling off the dribble and together with her step-back jumper, totaling a career-best 36 factors, although her 10 turnovers gave the Cardinal additional alternatives. Whereas Crooks was bottled up by Iriafen and Brink and fellow freshmen Brown and Jalynn Bristow had been unbothered, chipping in 25 factors, together with 10 in extra time.

Stanford discovered simply sufficient outdoors of Iriafen’s manufacturing. Brink had 5 blocks in her 22 minutes and added eight factors and eight rebounds. Leap was the main focus of many Iowa State schemes — the Cyclones even threw a box-and-one on the tremendous senior on one possession — however she pounced on each defensive miscue to rating 15. Nunu Agara was tasked with defending Ryan and was chargeable for a number of of these 10 turnovers. And Demetre got here up with the clutch buckets, the one 3-pointers she’s ever made in the NCAA Match outdoors of rubbish time.

Even with the sport of Iriafen’s life, the Cardinal nonetheless barely averted an enormous disappointment. Two straight years of bowing out on their residence court docket — after being upset in the convention event every season — would have solid doubt on Stanford’s toughness.

As an alternative, coach Tara VanDerveer and her workers had been in a position to push the fitting buttons to maintain Iriafen going and optimize their bench. Great shotmaking on each side prevented both staff from constructing a large lead, however the necessary takeaway for the Cardinal was after they wanted to execute offensively, they had been in a position to.

Neither staff deserved to lose, however Stanford was a worthy winner behind Iriafen. The participant VanDerveer may barely discover minutes for a 12 months in the past rocketed into the nationwide highlight with the most effective event performances in latest reminiscence and stored her squad dancing.

Required studying

(Picture: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Photographs)