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Cameron Brink struggles and fouls out as Stanford exits NCAA Tournament with bitter loss

The Stanford Cardinal won the regular-season Pac-12 championship. They faced USC in the Pac-12 Tournament final. In a season when the Cardinal were not picked to win the Pac-12 in preseason polls, the Trees did better than expected. Cameron Brink was at the center of the conversation for the Cardinal, right there with JuJu Watkins as one of the Pac-12’s very best players all season long. Brink, though, couldn’t put the pieces together in the postseason, and now the Cardinal are once again reeling from a bitter defeat before the Final Four. It’s not how they or most experts thought their season would end.

Cameron Brink fouled out of Stanford’s win over Iowa State this past Sunday. She is an elite defensive player, so fouling out was a shock to the system for this all-time Stanford great. It seemed likely that Brink would have a better game and stay out of foul trouble against N.C. State. After all, how many times does a player of Brink’s caliber foul out of consecutive games. Surely she wasn’t going to struggle two straight games, right? Surely she wasn’t going to foul out of two straight March Madness games, right?

Surely, the sure thing did not happen. The logical thing did not happen.

Brink fouled out again, and this time, it came early in the fourth quarter. Struggling to adjust to non-Pac-12 NCAA Tournament whistles, Brink exited long before the final buzzer. She played just seven minutes in the second half. Stanford’s guards — who have often underperformed in the team’s NCAA Tournament losses — could not step up and compensate for Brink’s absence. North Carolina State, down 10 at halftime, stormed back to beat Stanford 77-67 and advance to the Elite Eight on Sunday versus Texas.

The Pac-12 has four teams left in the NCAA Tournament. Three play on Saturday. They better be on guard if they want to avoid Stanford’s cruel fate.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire