One big obstacle has been removed for the Stanford women's basketball team as it heads into the 2011 NCAA Final Four semifinals on Sunday in Indianapolis. That would be Baylor's 6-foot-8 sophomore sensation Brittney Griner.
Griner will not take the floor against the Cardinal. Instead, it will be Texas A&M. The Aggies pulled off a 58-46 victory over Baylor on Tuesday night in the Dallas Regional final, limiting Griner to 20 points and nine rebounds after Griner had scored 70 points in her two previous games.
Thus, it will be Stanford (33-2) and Texas A&M (31-5) facing each other Sunday at 4 p.m. (ESPN) in a semifinal in Conseco Fieldhouse. Defending champion Connecticut will face Notre Dame in the other semifinal after the Huskies eliminated Duke, 75-40, in the Philadelphia Regional final on Tuesday.
"We're bigger," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, when asked how her team matches up with Texas A&M. "But, every team is a puzzle and can give you a challenge."
While nationally No. 2-ranked Stanford will be making its 10th appearance in the Final Four and its fourth straight, No. 7 Texas A&M will be playing in its first after ending an eight-game losing streak to Baylor.
The teams have met only once before, in 1982. Stanford prevailed at home in that game, 86-55.
VanDerveer didn't arrive at Stanford until the 1985-86 season and hasn't coached against the Aggies. So, when she awoke at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, she decided to stay up and began a four-hour session of studying game tape.
"They (the Aggies) are quicker and have more speed," VanDerveer said. "It's going to be a tough matchup."
Texas A&M was runnerup in the Big 12 (to Baylor) this season while Stanford won the Pac-10 Conference again with an 18-0 record.
The Aggies are led by Associated Press first-team All-American Danielle Adams (22.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Tyra White (13.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) while the Cardinal is led by first-team All-American Jeanette Pohlen (14.6 ppg, 4.7 assists per game), second-team All-American Nnemkadi Ogwumike (17 ppg) and honorable-mention selection Kayla Pedersen (12.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg).
This will be the second straight season that Stanford has faced a Big 12 team in the NCAA semifinals. Last year, the Cardinal eliminated Oklahoma, 73-66, in San Antonio. Stanford is 8-4 overall against Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Notes: Pedersen and Pohlen each played in their 149th career game on Monday night, breaking Rosalyn Gold-Onwude's (2005-10) school career record of 148. Pohlen set another record with five three-pointers against Gonzaga on Monday, giving her 93 treys for a single-season record. That breaks the mark of 91 held by Krista Rappahahn (2005-06) . . . The trip to Indianapolis makes Stanford only the fourth school to pull off four consecutive Final Fours, matching LSU (2004-08), Connecticut (2000-04, 2008-11) and Tennessee (1986-89, 1995-98, 2002-05).