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Kiki Iriafen leads No. 2 Stanford to 87-81 OT victory over Iowa State to advance to the Portland Regional

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Kiki Iriafen hit middle-distance jumpers from every possible spot. She took the ball hard at the basket and right at Iowa State University star freshman Audi Crooks, then blocked Crooks’ path on defense.

Iriafen burst over the boards and made all nine of her free throws – and Stanford needed all of Iriafen’s heart and courage to outlast Iowa State.

“She’s a warrior out there,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She had an all-American performance tonight.”

Brooke Demetre hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in overtime and Iriafen scored 11 of her career-high 41 points in OT, securing No. 2 Stanford a spot in the Portland Regional with a thrilling 87-81 victory the Portland Regional The seventh-seeded Cyclones in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

At 70 and this year’s winningest coach, VanDerveer said, “That’s why you do this.”

“It’s the type of game where you learn a lot about your team,” she said. “They fought, they stuck with things, they stayed together.”

Addy Brown made a 3 from the top of the arc with 31 seconds left in stoppage time to give Iowa State the lead, but just moments later Demetre answered from almost the same spot – and six of her eight total points came on timely 3s. She also hit two free throws with 11.7 seconds left to seal the win.

Iriafen shot 16 for 30.

“Kiki Iriafen, whoa!” VanDerveer said afterward.

Iriafen converted a three-point play with 3:41 left in overtime after drawing Crooks’ fifth foul, and also contributed 16 rebounds and three blocks. Talana Lepolo added a 3-pointer in overtime and Iriafen had a go-ahead shot from the baseline with 1:59 left before scoring again on the next down.

“This was a heavyweight fight, we had a great fighter out there,” VanDerveer said.

The Cyclones’ Emily Ryan scored with 3:45 to play, another 3 points in overtime and the tying free throws with 1:03 to play in overtime to finish with 36 points in their gutsy, spectacular finale.

Crooks made 18 of 20 shots in her career-best 40-point performance to set up Friday’s comeback win over Maryland when the Cyclones trailed by 20 points.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way they conducted themselves,” coach Bill Fennelly said, calling the game “a lot of fun.”

On Sunday, she missed her first three shots – more than she missed in the entire game on Friday – and was fouled for 10 points, making just 3 of 21 shots.

“We have our own 40-point scorer,” VanDerveer said.

On a night when Cameron Brink never got into a rhythm due to foul trouble, Irifen did a little bit of everything to help the Cardinal (30-5) advance while still feeling the pain of a heartbreaking 54-49 loss to Second-round Ole Miss felt last March at Maples Pavilion.

Iriafen was defending when Crooks missed a layup that would have given Iowa State (21-12) the lead with 14 seconds left in regulation, and Stanford got the ball with 11.5 seconds left. Then Iriafen missed a jumper over Crooks just before the final buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime, 66-6.

“She’s super talented,” Ryan said of Iriafen. “She had one of those nights tonight. There wasn’t much we could do to stop them.”

The teams entered the final 10 minutes tied and there were 18 lead changes and 12 ties.

Brink scored eight points, eight rebounds and five more blocked shots, giving her a national-high 120 points.

The Cardinal had reached 14 straight Sweet 16s before last year’s elimination – only the second time in 16 years that Stanford lost in the first or second round and the first since No. 10 seed Florida State lost shocked fifth-seeded Cardinal 68-61 at Maples Pavilion in the second round exactly 16 years ago on March 19, 2007.

Stanford was tested again.

“We gave them everything we had,” Brown said.

GUEST OF HONOR

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy sat in press row to cheer on his alma mater, Iowa State.

“It means so much. As alumni, you are so proud of the program doing so well, getting through this tournament and having the success that it has had,” he said. “I turned my back on them. It’s a blessing to be here to support them.”

And the Iowa State band got creative sitting directly above Purdy and on the Stanford offensive side:

“Pass it to Purdy!” Pass it to Purdy!” the band members shouted while pointing their arms at the NFL star.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa State: Freshman Arianna Jackson busted her jaw on the court in the final seconds of the third period and walked to the locker room with a towel over her face. “That was a pretty hard fall,” Fennelly said. … Coming into the game, Crooks had already set a single-season program record and finished the game with 258 made field goals, surpassing Bridget Carleton’s 254 in the 2018-19 season. … Hannah Belanger wore a face mask to protect her injured nose, which she suffered Friday against Maryland. … The Cyclones had a 21-18 advantage in rebounds in the first half and finished the game 42-36.

Stanford: Brink and Jump played their final home game in Maples, where their parents sat together a few rows behind the Stanford bench. Brink announced last week that she would declare for the WNBA draft and skip her fifth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID-19. … Redshirt sophomore Jzaniya Harriel delivered a key performance in the second quarter, stealing a possession before hitting a big 3 on the other end after a pass downfield to draw away her defender.

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