Stanford rallies to beat Louisville 78-63, reach Final Four

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Louisville's Dana Evans shoots past Stanford's Francesca Belibi during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Elite Eight round of the Women's NCAA tournament Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

SAN ANTONIO – After one of Stanford's worst halves of the season, coach Tara VanDerveer challenged her team to just compete.

The Cardinal responded.

Lexie Hull had 21 points, Ashten Prechtel scored each of her 16 in the second half and Stanford reached the Final Four by rallying for a 78-63 victory over Louisville on Tuesday night.

“To play a second half and beat them by 27 really says a lot about how hard people were playing,” VanDerveer said. “How much they wanted to do it for each other. They were willing to listen to me, My dad would always say it's not the start of the race, but the finish.”

Next up for the top-seeded Cardinal is South Carolina on Friday night in a rematch of the 2017 national semifinals. Stanford dropped that one 62-53, ending its previous appearance in the Final Four. UConn and Arizona meet in the other national semifinal.

Stanford (29-2) trailed by 12 midway through the third quarter before scoring 13 consecutive points to take its first lead since early in the game. Prechtel was a big part of that success after she didn't play in the first half.

“Ashten was a two-way player, her 3 was the shot that just said alright we’re back,” VanDerveer said. “We can win this game. Really exciting to see her play well. She's been doing great things for us all year. She really picked a great time to shine.”

The teams traded baskets the rest of the period, and No 2 seed Louisville (26-4) was up 50-48 heading into the final quarter.