Stanford pulls away from Tulsa in 2nd half
Connecticut beat Idaho by 68. Notre Dame defeated UT Martin by 33. Later in the day, Baylor would knock off Prairie View A&M by 42. So naturally, as the other No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, Stanford was expected to make quick work of 16th-seeded Tulsa in its first-round game on Sunday.
Not so fast. The determined Golden Hurricane made Stanford sweat it out, forcing three Cardinal turnovers in the first 43 seconds, pounding the offensive glass for second-chance points and knocking down perimeter jumpers to go toe-to-toe with the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament champions. Going into halftime, the Golden Hurricane and Cardinal were even at 24.
[Related video: Stanford-Tulsa highlights via NCAA.com]
Then Stanford stormed out of the locker room and went on a 23-7 run lasting more than eight minutes that proved to be the difference in its 72-56 victory.
"We don't get rattled," Stanford forward Taylor Greenfield said after the game. "The first half was over; the score was 0 to 0 and we stepped up in the second half."
Chiney Ogwumike's 29 points on 13-18 shooting from the field was one obvious reason why the Cardinal moved on to the second round. Stanford also got good production from its supporting cast in the second half, a major factor why the No. 1 seed was able to double its scoring output in the final frame. After going 3-16 from the field and contributing 10 points in the first half, Stanford players not named Ogwumike combined for 33 points on 13-21 shooting over the final 20 minutes.
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"My teammates are so unselfish and they really step up," Ogwumike said. "Every game we want someone different stepping up."
Ogwumike's three-point play to put Stanford ahead for good was the catalyst for the inspired second-half effort. Tulsa took a momentary 28-27 lead with 18:08 remaining on a layup from Tiffani Couisnard, but Ogwumike answered right back with a bucket of her own through contact and put Stanford on top 30-28 after a free throw.
From there, it truly became a team effort on both ends of the floor. Ball movement improved on offense as others began to knock down jumpers, especially Amber Orrange. The sophomore guard scored 11 of her 14 points in the second half, stretching out the Golden Hurricane defense with perimeter jumper after perimeter jumper.
On the defensive end, the Cardinal did a better job of contesting shots and not letting Tulsa get easy looks on the low block. Joslyn Tinkle made sure the paint was not a welcome area for the Golden Hurricane, blocking a team-high three shots on the afternoon. When Tulsa did score, Stanford seemed to have an answer nearly every time on the next possession while the game was still in the balance.
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Tulsa was led by its senior guard Taleya Mayberry. The Conference USA Championship Most Valuable Player scored 18 points, dished out four assists and recorded three steals for the well-coached Golden Hurricane.
Stanford will next play Michigan on Tuesday night at 6:50 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion in the round of 32.