Stanford women’s basketball has secured the No. 4 seed in the Oklahoma City region of the NCAA tournament and will play against No. 13 California State University, Northridge at Maples Pavilion this Saturday.
This tournament bid also marks the 28th consecutive time the Card has appeared in the NCAA tournament. As one of the nation’s top 16 teams, Stanford will be hosting its game as well as another first round game, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 12 Quinnipiac. The victors of both these games will play in the second round on Monday, March 23, with the winner moving on to the regional round in Oklahoma City.
Other teams in Stanford’s region include No. 1 Notre Dame (ranked second overall), No. 2 Baylor, and No. 3 Iowa. If Stanford were to win its first two games, it would likely face the Fighting Irish in Oklahoma City.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been in a bracket with Notre Dame, [but] all I am concerned about is playing Northridge,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer.
“[Last year] they [CSUN] gave South Carolina a great game in the first round. [They’re a] very quick, athletic team, very well coached team. Their guards, they shoot well,” the coach added.
CSUN ended their regular season at 23-9 and 11-5 in the Big West. The squad beat Hawai’i 67-60 to win its conference tournament and will face Stanford coming off of a nine game win streak.
Stanford’s guards will be forced to limit their Matador counterparts. Senior guards Ashlee Guay, Janae Sharpe, and Cinnamon Lister lead CSUN in scoring with 16.2, 12.6 and 11.5 points per game, respectively.
Stanford shared many regular season opponents with the Matadors, specifically USC, UC Davis, Hawai’i and UC Santa Barbara. While Stanford beat all these teams by decent margins, CSUN went 5-4 against them. Perhaps most notably, CSUN lost to USC, a tough Pac-12 team, in overtime, 85-74.
Stanford enters into the NCAAs following its 11th Pac-12 tournament championship. Senior forward Taylor Greenfield scored 20 points to lead the team to a 61-60 victory against a talented Cal team. The team, who moved up to the No. 14 slot in the national rankings, was guaranteed a spot in the NCAAs with its conference tournament title.
“We’re coming together [and] figuring out what we want to do right now,” said sophomore guard Lili Thompson. “We’re in a good place coming into the tournament.”
Despite its success in Seattle, the team needs to make several adjustments going into the national tournament. For one, the Card must figure out a way to get all players– not just its posts– to rebound and box out more effectively.
The team, which in the past has relied on its 3-point shooting to win games, only shot well from behind the arc in one of its Pac-12 tournament games: the semifinal against ASU. Stanford would benefit from getting its guards as well as senior forward Bonnie Samuelson to drain some threes, especially if it faces stronger teams later in the tournament.
The team’s undefeated record (11-0) when four or more of its players score 10+ points also indicates that the Card needs to get as many players as it can to contribute offensively. Whether sophomore guard Briana Roberson, freshman forward Kaylee Johnson, sophomore forward Erica McCall and freshman guard Brittany McPhee can make an impact will likely determine the team’s success. The contributions of these players is particularly crucial since sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson is out with a finger injury for the rest of the season.
Both Oregon State and Arizona State, the Pac-12’s top-two teams in the regular season, earned three seeds and will host at their respective schools. Bay Area foe Cal, who like Stanford earned a No. 4 seed, will also be hosting over the weekend, while No. 6 Washington will face No. 11 Miami (Fla.) in Iowa.
“The Pac-12 has gotten us ready for NCAA and we expect to do really well. Now it is time to take on the rest of the country,” VanDerveer said.
Stanford will play No. 13 CSUN Saturday, March 21 at 3:30 PT at Maples Pavilion. The game will be aired on ESPN2.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.