SPOKANE, Wash. -- Top-seeded Stanford tumbled off its lofty perch Saturday night in getting bounced from the Sweet 16 in a 61-59 defeat to Georgia at Spokane Arena.
Chiney Ogwumike had another big night with 26 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Lady Bulldogs' rugged defense and big-time shooting as the Cardinal will miss the Final Four for the first time in six seasons.
Fourth-seeded Georgia, which finished third in the Southeastern Conference, will play Cal in the regional final Monday. The winner will advance to New Orleans for next weekend's Final Four.
The Cardinal (33-3) shed tears but also left the tournament understanding it had limitations despite being the only school in two years to defeat No. 1 Baylor.
"It created a little bit of fool's gold," coach Tara VanDerveer said of how well the season went despite a lineup consisting of two players who had nothing but cameo roles in previous seasons.
Stanford squandered an eight-point lead with 10:05 left because it shot only 29.4 percent from the field in the second half.
"We never had a flow to our offense," said guard Sara James, who made only 1 of 7 shots. "We relied on Chiney too much inside."
That about summed up the problem for Stanford on a night Georgia got hot in the second half behind guards Jasmine James (16 points), Tiaria Griffin (13) and Shacobia Barbee (nine).
Stanford took a 9-0 lead before an announced crowd of 6,146 but didn't have a finishing touch like the Bulldogs.
Georgia's James made two clutch free throws with 23.5 seconds left to give her team a 60-56 lead. Then Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle made a difficult 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to close to one.
Sara James fouled Barbee with 0.8 seconds left. The freshman guard missed her first shot but made the second. The Cardinal tried a full-court pass to Ogwumike but couldn't covert.
The players stoically filed off the floor, but tears flowed in the locker room according to sophomore guard Amber Orrange, who scored 17 points. The players realized their quest to reach the Final Four in New Orleans might have been a pipe dream.
"The reason I'm not going ballistic is we're 33-3," Ogwumike said. "Is that right? That was a huge achievement for our program."
Stanford rode a 19-game win streak into Spokane although expected starter Toni Kokenis hasn't played since Feb. 3 with an undisclosed medical condition.
It got worse Saturday when sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield got kicked in the hand as she tried to pass with Stanford leading 11-2. Greenfield crumpled to the floor wincing while holding her left hand. She didn't play again.
"Once we had injuries to people it became a little bit 'Mission Impossible,' " VanDerveer said.
Greenfield jammed three fingers but didn't break any bones, her coach said.
Still, the Cardinal clung to a 50-46 lead with 4:25 left as Georgia kept pressuring on defense. But it seemed time ran out on a team trying to reach a record sixth consecutive Final Four.
The Bulldogs used double and triple teams to hold Ogwumike to eight points in the second half.
VanDerveer, meanwhile, had preached all month that her team would go only as far as the role players took it. Ogwumike and Orrange made 19 of Stanford's 25 shots, and on this night that spelled disaster.