STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle would enjoy seeing a rematch with Pac-12 conference rival California. It would mean a lot to both teams and the conference.
Fourth-ranked Stanford (31-2) was given the No. 1 seed in the Spokane Region of the NCAA women’s tournament. No. 6 California was awarded the No. 2 seed.
”It’s a fun rivalry game, they’re a good team and we went at it earlier in the year,” Tinkle said. ”Sometimes if you get that far, you don’t know teams that well. We’re so familiar and it’s great competition. It would be awesome to see that game happen again.”
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Stanford and Cal tied for the Pac-12 regular-season title, with the teams splitting the season series. The Bears were knocked out of the conference tournament by UCLA in the semifinal.
”Not getting to play Cal in the championship makes it different,” said Cardinal junior Chiney Ogwumike, who will bring a 22.4 scoring average and 13.1 rebounding average into the tournament. ”It’s not so fresh in our minds. We love the Pac-12 and we want the Pac-12 to succeed. Honestly, I was excited to see Tulsa on the bracket so we can have something to focus our energy on.”
Stanford, the Pac-12′s qualifier after winning its seventh consecutive Pac-12 tournament title, is going for its sixth consecutive Final Four appearance.
The Cardinal open at home Sunday against Tulsa (17-16), while No. 8-seed Michigan (21-10) and No. 9 Villanova (21-10) also meet at Maples Pavilion in a first-round game. The winners will play at Maples on Tuesday.
The Cardinal are making their 26th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 27th overall.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said he was a bit surprised at seeing California in the same bracket.
”It’s something the committee has done before,” she said. ”I was excited for Cal getting a two seed.”
The Cardinal is looking for its first national title since 1992. They lost to Baylor in last year’s national semifinal and last reached the championship game in 2010.
Stanford has been eliminated by the eventual national champion in each of the past five years.
Ogwumike will be looking for some redemption after being held to a career-low three points in Stanford’s 51-49 victory against the Bruins in the conference championship.
”I expected three people on me every game,” Ogwumike said. ”I like being inside a lot. I always expect the best of the defense. The difference with UCLA was they were committed to it for 40 minutes. I’m excited to be back at Maples; it’s a special place.”
The Cardinal will be without starting guard Toni Kokenis for the rest of the year with an undisclosed illness. She has missed 11 consecutive games and 12 overall.