Card rides Tinkle's hot hand to Sweet 16

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Playing in front of the home crowd one final time, Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle delivered a performance to remember Tuesday night at Maples Pavilion in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The forward from Missoula, Mont., connected on her first four shots - three of which were from beyond the arc - to get Stanford out of the gates quickly en route to a 73-40 victory over the eighth-seeded Michigan Wolverines to put the Cardinal in the Sweet 16.

Tinkle finished the night with 21 points on 7-10 shooting (and a perfect 5-5 from downtown) to go along with six rebounds, three assists and two mighty impressive blocks. She hardly slowed down in the second half, hitting a right wing three that brought a huge smile to her face and a runner in the lane that seemingly hung on the rim for an eternity before finally falling through the cylinder. When she checked out of the game with 2:31 remaining, the crowd rose in unison to give one final salute to the senior.

"It was kind of one of those days when you wake up and you feel good," Tinkle said. "I was just really proud of the way I handled everything, and I used that to motivate me, get me excited and to go out right away and be aggressive and be positive."

Unlike its first-round game against Tulsa, Stanford came out of the gates on fire, hitting eight of its first 11 field goal attempts to take a  21-7 lead just a little more than eight minutes into the game. There would be no tie ballgame at the half this time around as Stanford led 41-16 after 20 minutes of play. Like Tinkle, the team didn't cool down much in the final frame and drilled a season-high 12 three-pointers.

"I'm really excited about how our team played," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Jos got us going. She just played so confidently knocking her shots down. I thought our team seemed very relaxed and played hard."

Just as important to the Cardinal effort was the defense of Sara James, who was dealt the tall task of guarding three-point shooter extraordinaire Kate Thompson. Entering the game, Thompson had connected on 110 shots from beyond the arc for the season, good for third in the NCAA behind Oklahoma's Aaryn Ellenberg and Missouri's Morgan Eye. But James did a brilliant job defending the Wolverine sharpshooter, teaming up with Taylor Greenfield to hold her to just seven points on 1-11 shooting, including 0-6 from downtown. Fighting through screens and chasing her across the perimeter, James was a thorn in Thompson's side all night long.

"I was guarding her, but everybody on the floor had to know where she was and it was a really good team effort," said James, who also finished with nine points on 3-5 three-point shooting and three assists. "It had to be five people knowing where she was. I may have been just looking in her eyes the whole time, but I called for switches and everybody was ready."

Michigan finished the season with 22 wins, tying a program record established in the 1999-2000 season, a campaign that also ended in an NCAA tournament loss to the Cardinal. The Wolverines were led by Michigan all-time single-season assists leader Jenny Ryan, who scored 11 points and was a perfect 5-5 from the field while also dishing out two final helpers.

Stanford next plays the Georgia Lady Bulldogs Saturday in Spokane.

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