By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Joslyn Tinkle made sure her final game in Maples Pavilion was one to remember. Sara James made sure just to stay in the game by turning in one of the top defensive efforts by any player all year.
The game plan was executed to near perfection, which means the Stanford women's basketball team will play in the Sweet 16 for the sixth consecutive season in hopes of reaching its sixth consecutive Final Four.
Tinkle scored a game-high 21 points, making all five of her 3-point attempts and James put the clamps on Michigan's Kate Thompson, one of the nation's best 3-point shooters, and the fourth-ranked and No. 1 seeded Cardinal chased the Wolverines off the court, 73-40, in the second round of the NCAA tournament Tuesday with its 19th straight win.
Stanford (33-2) advances to a regional semifinal at the Spokane Arena and will play No. 4 seed Georgia (27-6) on Saturday at 6:04 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 2 seed California (30-3) plays No. 6 LSU (22-11) in the other semifinal at 8:32 p.m. (ESPN2). One of the four teams in Spokane will reach the Final Four.
The regional final is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. on Monday night.
"It was one of those days you wake up and just feel good," Tinkle said. "We've all worked hard and prepared for Michigan. Before the game emotions were high and the energy was insane."
Tinkle took the first shot of the game, a 3-pointer against a Wolverines' zone, which was an effort to contain Chiney Ogwumike. The shot floated through the net like a Kirsten Ipsen dive; with nary a ripple.
"I could not have asked to play any better than we did," said Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, who is six wins shy of 900 for her career. "I'm happy for Jos. I told her Candice Wiggins scored 44 points in her final game in Maples and Roz (Gold-Onwude) went crazy in her final game here, so it was her turn to keep up the tradition."
Tinkle shot 70 percent for the game and Stanford shot nearly 54 percent. Even with Ogwumike limited to 12 points, to go with 15 rebounds, Michigan could not answer Stanford's sharp shooters.
One of the reasons is the defense James played on Thompson, who missed her first 10 points and made her only basket late in the game.
"She's a player who didn't get major minutes but she'll do whatever we ask of her," VanDerveer said. "I told her 'no 3s. If Thompson hits a 3, you're coming out.' Sara really focused."
And Michigan could not help but notice.
"She did a good job of being physical," Michigan's Jenny Ryan said of James. "She was right on her the whole time. She got into her and never let up. We set screen after screen after screen and she worked hard."
The Wolverines scored fewer points just once all season and was held below 46 for just the third time.
"Physically they didn't allow us to do anything," Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "It started with James, but it was one through five really. As a coach, I hate saying this but we might have felt a little intimidated. Ogwumike might have made a difference in us not going inside. She has that reputation and she's just an outstanding basketball player."
Stanford made a season-high 12 3-pointers, eight coming in the first half, perhaps the most dominating half of the season for the Cardinal. Michigan had 14 made baskets total and shot under 30 percent for the game.
"We got beat by a very good team who played extremely well," Barnes Arico said. "They shared the basketball well and were able to knock down shots."
Barnes Arico had trouble believing the depth of solid shooters coming off the Stanford bench as Bonnie Samuelson came in and immediately hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Like much of the nation, Barnes Arico had heard Stanford was more of a one-player team and she devised a defense based on stopping Ogwumike.
"I heard about it all week long but I doubt there are many teams who played them and think that way," she said. "You're not 33-2 without being an outstanding team."
Amber Orrange added 11 points and six assists, with just two turnovers, and continues to develop her all-around game.
Samuelson, Mikaela Ruef and James were all within a point of double figures. Ryan scored 11 to lead the Wolverines.
"The past couple of days have been crazy, surreal thinking this was my last game at Maples," Tinkle said. "I had a nice talk with Kate Paye and with my parents about how to handle the situation. I was sad, yet at the same time I wanted to go out with a bang, and I wanted my team to go out with a bang. I was happy out there. I had fun."
VanDerveer remembered the high school girl who came to Spokane to watch Stanford play Maryland years ago in a regional. At the time, Tinkle was one of the most sought-after players in the country.
"She wanted to be part of this team," VanDerveer said. "Jos is really Stanford. She's a high energy person. I lover her energy and her versatility. Tonight, she was in her element."