Arizona plays No. 1 Alabama for NCAA title

Arizona, which barely squeaked into the quarterfinals, will carry the hopes of the Pacific 12 Conference into the title match against top-ranked Alabama in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats upset Pac-12 champion UCLA, which captured the stroke-play portion of the NCAA tournament, in the morning quarterfinals, 3-2, and then took down 2015 national champion and fifth-seeded Stanford, 4-1, in the semifinals.

“I’m so pumped for them; it’s been a total team effort,” Arizona Coach Lauren Ianello said. “It was a huge day for the team, just keeping the momentum going. The whole team, they just trust each other.

“We’re just so thankful to have the opportunity to keep playing and we know anything is possible. They’re tired, but told them they can sleep on Thursday. We have a chance to win national championship and that makes it all worth it.”

Second-seeded Alabama advanced to the final by defeating seventh-seeded Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, before finishing off third-seeded USC, 3-1-1, in the semis.

In the other quarterfinal matches, USC eliminated sixth-seeded Duke, 3-1-1, and Stanford defeated fourth-seeded Northwestern, 3-2.

“I’m extremely proud of this team,” USC Coach Andrea Gaston of USC, whose lineup included four freshmen and a sophomore. “It’s a completely new team and this has been one of my favorite seasons.

“I’m so proud of them and I know we will be back.”

Bianca Pagdanganan (pictured) of Arizona, a junior from the Philippines, who sank a 30-foot eagle putt to keep the Wildcats alive near the end of stroke play on Monday and added a 12-foot birdie putt to help them advance, kept it going in match play.

Pagdanganan edged UCLA star Patti Tavatanakit in the deciding match of the quarterfinals, and downed Andrea Lee of Stanford, who tied for second in the NCAA individual tournament on Monday, also by 1 up, in the semis.

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