SPOKANE, Wash. - Facing a deafening, unfriendly crowd in a hostile - and perhaps unfair - setting, along with the little blond point guard who had yet to be stopped, the Stanford Cardinal emphatically showed it's still the power of the West Coast.
A fourth straight Final Four makes that point impossible to debate.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike dominated the inside with 23 points and 11 rebounds, sister Chiney added 18 points and 15 boards, and the top-seeded Cardinal ended the surprising run of Courtney Vandersloot and Gonzaga 83-60 in the Spokane Region final on Monday night.
After two years of playing with her sister in the stands watching, Nnemkadi is now bringing Chiney along to the national semifinals after the duo overwhelmed and overpowered the 11th-seeded Bulldogs, who were playing about a mile and a half from their campus.
"This whole weekend she's just been talking about, 'Nneka, I don't know what it really feels like because the last two times I went I was in the stands," Nnemkadi said. "I was just trying to help her just let her know how exciting it was.
The Ogwumikes were relentless from the start when Nnemkadi powered through the Gonzaga defense for a layup on the opening possession. When Chiney missed, Nnemkadi was there to clean it up, and visa versa. The size and strength of Stanford was simply too much for the Bulldogs, and their more than 11,000 hometown fans, to overcome on this night.
"They're just a unique combination of strength, obviously skill, but the quickness with which they attack the ball on the boards is phenomenal," Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. "We're not there yet to be able to matchup with these kinds of teams that just have that kind of strength and athleticism inside."
For Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen, Monday night's victory completes a perfect career in reaching the Final Four in every season of their time at Stanford, a run that began by winning the 2008 Spokane Region final behind Candice Wiggins.
Stanford (33-2) won its 27th straight to tie the longest streak in school history and will face the Baylor-Texas A&M winner in the national semifinals Sunday night.
"Their hunger is intense, they play every possession hard, and we had to match that," Chiney Ogwumike said. "That hunger to win and get every possession was the difference."
Vandersloot did her best to carry Gonzaga (31-5) for a half before the Bulldogs wore down in the final 20 minutes under a bevy of missed shots and a befuddling Stanford zone defense. Vandersloot, who came in averaging 30.7 points and 10.3 assists in the tournament, finished with 25 points and nine assists.
But Stanford managed to harass Vandersloot in the second half and limited her to just four points. Her stellar college career ended when she checked out with 1:14 left to a standing ovation and a wave to the crowd after leading Gonzaga to upsets of Iowa, UCLA and Louisville to reach the first Elite Eight in school history.
"I was obviously very disappointed that we lost the game," Vandersloot said. "But I couldn't help but enjoy that 10 seconds it was to walk off and hear the fans cheering, and I know that deep in my heart they love us and are just as proud of us had we won that game."