😳 Cameron Brink FOULS OUT In Last College Game | NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Stanford vs NC State

N.C. State rally stuns Stanford in Sweet 16 as Cameron Brink fouls out.

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Just a minute into the fourth quarter, North Carolina State’s Aziaha James loaded up for an NBA-length 3-pointer, fired and flashed three fingers to the crowd before it even landed in the net.

That was when No. 3 seed N.C. State took the air out of No. 2 Stanford for good, less than a minute before Cameron Brink fouled out of her last college game, and nine minutes before the Wolfpack sent Stanford packing with a 77-67 Sweet 16 defeat on Friday night.

N.C. State (30-6) won the third quarter 28-10, the most the Cardinal had been outscored in a single frame all season. Brink — who had no fouls at halftime — committed four in that period.

James got hot and finished with 28 points after an abysmal first half, and none of Stanford’s shooters could step up with Brink and Kiki Iriafen in foul trouble.

So Stanford’s season, which went a step further than last year’s nightmare second-round defeat on its home court, ended without the Cardinal’s first-team All-American on the floor. It ended with six consecutive missed shots. And the collegiate careers of Brink and Hannah Jump ended on the heels of perhaps the worst quarter the Cardinal (30-6) played all season.

“We are not going to be successful with Cam and Kiki on the bench,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “For Cam to play like 23 minutes and 35 seconds, Kiki playing 22 minutes, we’re not going to beat a team that is that good.”

Problems that Stanford encountered at various points this season seemed to all surface at once, bringing to life the worst version of itself at the worst time. Guards tearing apart their defense, no Brink, Iriafen limited, and absolutely no secondary scoring. For months, Stanford made up for it by having the best post duo in the country.

But on Friday that duo couldn’t help from the bench, and unlike in the second round when Brooke Demetre’s clutch 3-pointer saved the Cardinal, no one stepped up to bail them out.

N.C. State rally stuns Stanford in Sweet 16 as Cameron Brink fouls out

Iriafen played just seven minutes in the first half but made her presence known with eight points. She finished with 26 points, almost 40% of the team’s total points, following up her monster 41-point game on Sunday to beat Iowa State.

“I think it’s definitely tough when both of us are in foul trouble,” Iriafen said. “But I think when I was on the bench, when Cam was on the bench, we did everything we could to still encourage our teammates, still be vocal from where we were at. I think we gave it our best. We just didn’t get the outcome we wanted today.”

Stanford started the game 1-for-8 and Brink was 1-for-5 in that span. N.C. State also struggled early, shooting 5-for-18 in the first quarter and didn’t make any 3’s. The run-and-gun transition play the Wolfpack prefer also worked to Stanford’s advantage, who used the space to get Jump open running down the court.

Brink had five blocks in the first quarter alone and avoided getting whistled in the first half, but that would change — drastically — as would Stanford’s 37-27 halftime advantage.

“It was very challenging when you have people fouling so quickly, you don’t really get any continuity in substituting,” said VanDerveer, whose Cardinal had won 56 consecutive games when leading by double digits at halftime.

“You have to take people out because of fouls. It’s hard to figure out what to do offensively, what to run. We didn’t do a good enough job defensively.”

Stanford, Brink fall victim to fouls and North Carolina St. in Sweet 16

Brink quickly got called for her first foul in the third quarter, five minutes later upped her total to three, and committed a fourth before the final frame. N.C. State stormed back as its 3-pointers started to hit and James got hot.

The Wolfpack entered the fourth quarter up 55-47.

Elena Bosgana had eight points, all in the first half, and Jump had 13, but it was another example of Stanford not having enough beyond their stars. Talana Lepolo shot 0-for-6, and it was the third game in her last five that she was shut out entirely.

Last week’s hero, Demetre, shot just 2-for-6. None of the freshmen scored. The Cardinal went 5-for-25 from 3-point range overall.

“We did not do our job in keeping our best players on the court,” VanDerveer said. “On top of that, we need more help offensively from the perimeter.”

Brink finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks and wishing she had been on the court for the final eight minutes and 10 seconds.

It wasn’t that the Cardinal couldn’t win without Brink. They proved they could endure that against Iowa State.

The third quarter simply drained the life out of them, and they couldn’t get it back.

Now Stanford faces an offseason of questions. When the Cardinal return to the court, they will be in a new conference — joining N.C. State in the ACC — without their best player.

“While this is very sad, it’s bittersweet,” Brink said. “I love these girls.”

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