Sports

Stanford women ready to play in NCAA hoops tournament

 
Alanna Smith said Stanford will be ready to play against UC Davis on Saturday. Photo by Don Feria/isiphotos.com.

It's finals week so Stanford's athletes have a little bit of a split focus. By the time Saturday rolls around, there will be only one focus.

No. 6 Stanford earned its 32nd consecutive NCAA Tournament bid when the NCAA women's basketball selection committee announced the field Monday.

The Cardinal (28-4), seeded second, was placed in the Chicago Region. As one of the nation's top 16 overall seeds, Stanford will host first and second-round games in Maples Pavilion on Saturday and Monday.

The Cardinal will open its 33rd overall NCAA postseason with No. 15 UC Davis (25-6) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in a game televised on ESPN2.

No. 7 BYU (25-6) and No. 10 Auburn (22-9) will play in the other first-round matchup at 12:30 p.m. with the winners meeting in Monday's second-round contest at a time to be determined.

"We have a big game with Davis to start it off," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We know it's a one-game season. We've worked very hard. The team is healthy and we're excited. We're ready to play."

The Cardinal is 11-4 against the field, which includes wins over Baylor, Oregon and Tennessee.

Stanford beat UC Davis, 71-43, to open the season.

"An early season win means nothing," VanDerveer said. "You have to come out and play well. I've always been impressed with Davis and the coaching job by Jen (Gross)."

UC Davis came back from a 17-point deficit to beat Hawai'i in the Mountain West Conference title game.

"They're a very talented team," Stanford's Alanna Smith said. "They run their offense very well."

As a city, Stanford, has served as a host for 70 NCAA Tournament games, the second-most behind Knoxville, Tenn. (86). Each of those games has been played in Maples Pavilion, which has hosted more NCAA Tournament games than any other facility except Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena (71). The Lady Vols are playing in College Park, Maryland this weekend.

The Cardinal is 36-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games at Maples Pavilion and has won 16 straight. This season will be the 22nd in which Stanford has hosted NCAA Tournament games in Maples Pavilion since staging its first in 1989 and the 21st in which the Cardinal has opened up its postseason at home.

"This is the time you want to be playing your best basketball," Smith said. "We've have the best preparation by playing in the Pac-12. We're trying to keep moving forward. I'm really proud of everybody on our team."

Stanford earned its 32nd consecutive and 33rd overall NCAA Tournament bid by collecting the Pac-12's automatic berth into the field after winning its 13th conference tournament championship.

"There's no ho-hum in it," VanDerveer said. "It's the NCAA tournament. It's like a kid on Christmas Day. It's that exciting. To get to the Final Four there's a lot of work ahead."

Since its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1982, Stanford has won two national championships (1990, 1992), reached 13 Final Fours (1990-92, 1995-97, 2008-12, 2014, 2017), 19 Elite Eights, 25 Sweet 16s and compiled an NCAA Tournament record of 86-30 (.741).

Stanford's 13 Final Four appearances are the third-most by any school entering this year's tournament, and its 33 overall appearances rank second behind only Tennessee (38 appearances).

Tennessee is the only school that has a longer active streak of NCAA Tournament appearances than Stanford's 32. The Lady Vols have earned a bid to all 38 NCAA Tournaments. The Cardinal's 86 wins in the NCAA Tournament are third all-time behind Tennessee (125) and Connecticut (117) as are its 116 tournament games. Tennessee has appeared in 154 and Connecticut 136.

The Cardinal is a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time and first since 2017. Stanford has gone on to reach the Final Four as a No. 2 seed six times (1991, 1995, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2017), defeating the No. 1 seed in the regional final in 1991 (Georgia), 2008 (Maryland) and 2017 (Notre Dame).

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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