North Carolina's run in the NCAA Women's Tournament is over. The fourth-seeded Lady Tar Heels fell to second-seed Stanford 74-65 in the West Regional final. UNC wound up just one game short of reaching the Women's Final Four for the fourth time.
UNC was led by freshman guard Allisha Gray with 19 points and nine rebounds. ACC Rookie of the Year Diamond DeShields added 13 points for North Carolina which finished its season 27-10
The Lady Tar Heels surprised many by taking a 36-30 lead into the locker room at halftime. The game was played on Stanford's home floor at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, California. Members of the Cardinal women's team were hoping not to duplicate last year's tournament result. The Cardinal used a loss before reaching last year's Final Four as motivation this season.
Stanford came out hot in the second half to capture the lead. The Cardinal built their advantage over UNC to as many as eight points. North Carolina fought back through the second half retake the lead by a point with less than four e minutes remaining. But key baskets and free throws down the stretch regained the advantage and sealed the win for Stanford.
The loss means head coach Sylvia Hatchell will have to wait until next season to return to the bench. Her battle with Leukemia has kept her off the sideline this year. Late last week she said her doctors told her she could coach her team if they reached the Final Four in Nashville.
When Hatchell does return for the new season later this year, every member of this 'Elite Eight' squad will be back. There are no seniors on the roster.