How Stanford rallied past South Dakota State and into the Sweet 16

Stanford rallies to advance to Sweet 16 (0:54)

Stanford rallies from a four-point deficit at the beginning to the fourth quarter to defeat South Dakota State 66-65. (0:54)

STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford hadn't lost at home in the NCAA tournament since Florida State beat the Cardinal back in 2007.

But with about four minutes to go at Maples Pavilion on Monday, the fourth-seeded Cardinal looked to be in big trouble, down eight points to 12th-seeded South Dakota State, which didn't look intimidated by its surroundings for a minute.

Slowly, Stanford chipped away at that lead and when Lili Thompson drove to the basket down the heart of the lane with 8.2 seconds to go, and then calmly hit the free throw that turned out to be the margin of victory, the Cardinal had its first lead since the early moments of the third quarter.

Erica McCall's block on SDSU's final possession sealed a heart-pounding 66-65 win for Stanford and its ninth straight trip to the regional semifinals.

How the game was won: After a terrible free throw shooting night by the Cardinal, Stanford took the lead for good on Thompson's three-point play. The Jackrabbits' last possession would have been for a game-winner, but McCall's block on Macy Miller's short jumper allowed the Cardinal to escape with the win.

Player of the game: Thompson. The Cardinal guard finished with 19 points, none more important than the game winner -- and it came not long after she missed a contested 3-pointer and an open layup in the final 2:30.

Turning point: Briana Roberson's 3-pointer from the corner with 1:01 to go pulled the Cardinal within 64-63. Stanford was down 62-54 with 4:40 left.

X factor: McCall. Hard to call Stanford's leading scorer (20 points and 12 rebounds) an X factor, but the Cardinal lost their lead in the third quarter when McCall went to the bench with three fouls. She was a huge presence late in the game, scoring in transition to pull Stanford within 62-59 and coming up with the game-saving block.

Stat of the game: Free throw shooting. Both teams will be playing misses over again in their heads. The Cardinal were an uncharacteristic 10-of-22, which almost cost them big. South Dakota State was 7-of-13, including three misses in the final 2:17.

Also, the Jackrabbits failed to hit a field goal over the final 4:43.

What's next: Stanford moves on to the Sweet 16 to face Notre Dame, a rematch of last season's regional semifinal game, which the Irish won handily.