By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Lexie Hull scored 20 points in front of her hometown crowd, Haley Jones added 18 points, including four key free throws in the closing moments, and defending national champion Stanford toppled No. 2 seed Texas on Sunday night for a return trip to the women’s Final Four.
The Cardinal (32-3) are headed to the Final Four for the 15th time in program history and will play either North Carolina State or Connecticut in the national semifinals in Minneapolis.
The Spokane Regional final was tightly contested throughout and reinforced the resolve that Stanford was missing earlier in the season when it lost to Texas at home on the night it received its rings from the 2021 championship.
Stanford (32-3) was the tougher team this time around, especially in the second half.
Hull made a key 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter and had a three-point play that gave Stanford a 53-48 lead with 2:29 remaining. Texas never got closer than two in the final moments and Stanford spent the final seconds celebrating around Hull and her twin sister Lacie.
Hull made 7-of-14 shots on a night scoring was at a premium. Jones was just 4-of-11 shooting but made 10-of-11 free throws and Stanford was 18 of 22 at the foul line. Jones also grabbed 12 rebounds.
Cameron Brink added 10 points for Stanford, all in the third quarter, and the Cardinal extended the longest win streak in the country to 24 games.
Texas (29-7) lost in the Elite Eight for the second straight season. Last year, it made an unexpected run as a No. 6 seed before falling short against South Carolina.
Joanne Allen-Taylor led Texas with 15 points before fouling out. Rori Harmon, the Big 12 freshman of the year, was limited to 14 points after scoring 21 against the Cardinal earlier this season.
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