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Stanford Begins NCAAs
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 03/18/2014
Game #33
NCAA Tournament First Round

No. 6/5 Stanford Cardinal (29-3)

- vs. -

South Dakota Coyotes (19-13)

Saturday, March 22, 2014 – 3:30 p.m. PT
Hilton Coliseum (14,384) – Ames, Iowa

Tournament Seeds: Stanford – 2, South Dakota – 15
Series History: First Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
TV: ESPN2 (P-x-P: Clay Matvick, Analyst: Fran Fraschilla)
Webcast: ESPN3 (http://www.espn3.com)
Radio: 90.1 KZSU

STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford, the No. 2 seed in its own regional, travels to Ames, Iowa to open the 2014 NCAA Tournament against No. 15 seed South Dakota Saturday at 3:30 p.m. PT. Saturday’s game will air live on ESPN2 with Clay Matvick and Fran Fraschilla on the call, and can also be heard on 90.1 KZSU.

Last Time Out
The Cardinal was denied its eighth straight Pac-12 Tournament crown two weeks ago with a 72-68 semifinal loss to eventual champion USC. Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike posted her 14th 30-point game of the season, scoring 30 points with 21 rebounds and pulling into a tie with former Stanford great Candice Wiggins as the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer with 2,629 career points. Freshman guard Lili Thompson scored 13 points with four assists while junior point guard Amber Orrange scored 11 points with six rebounds. The Cardinal out-rebounded the Trojans, 51-46, but let a three-point lead slip from its grasp in the final minutes as USC used a 10-0 run late to take a lead it would not relinquish.

About South Dakota
South Dakota (19-13) will be making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament this March and earned the historic bid by capturing the Summit League Tournament. Entering the draw as the No. 4 seed, the Coyotes upset top-seeded South Dakota State in the semifinals before downing Denver, 82-71, in the final. With head coach Amy Williams in her second season at the helm, South Dakota is led by the play of guards Nicole Seekamp (15.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Raeshel Contreras (13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

All-Time Against South Dakota
Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first-round contest will be the first meeting between Stanford and South Dakota.

Against The Summit League
Stanford played one game this season against a Summit League team, defeating South Dakota State, 80-60, Nov. 28 at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta. Saturday’s contest against South Dakota will be the first NCAA Tournament game against a representative from the Summit League.

Stanford In The NCAA Tournament
This weekend begins Stanford’s 28th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 27th in a row. Stanford’s 28 tournament bids moves the Cardinal alone into third place, passing Louisiana Tech (27) and remaining behind Tennessee, which has appeared in all 33 editions of the NCAA Tournament, and Georgia, which is making its 31st appearance in 2014.

Stanford has reached 11 Final Fours (1990-92, 1995-97, 2008-12), third-most among all schools, and has reached the signature event in five of the past six seasons.

Since its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1982, Stanford has won two national championships (1990, 1992), reached the aforementioned 11 Final Fours, 16 Elite Eights, 20 Sweet 16s, and compiled an NCAA Tournament record of 71-25.

Stanford As A No. 2 Seed
This year marks the 10th time that the Cardinal has been given a No. 2 seed, and breaks a streak of four straight years (2010-13) in which Stanford had been a No. 1 seed. Stanford received a No. 2 seed three straight years from 2007-09, reaching the Final Four in 2008 and 2009. Overall, the Cardinal has gone on to reach the Final Four as a No. 2 seed four times (1991, 1995, 2008, 2009), defeating the No. 1 seed in the regional final two of those times (Georgia 1991, Maryland 2008).

Stanford On The Road To Open The NCAA Tournament
Out of Stanford’s 28 NCAA Tournament appearances, this weekend will mark the 11th time that the Cardinal has opened the draw away from Maples Pavilion. However, the Cardinal has now opened the NCAA Tournament away from home nine times over the past 16 years, since the 1999 event.

Stanford is 13-4 in first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games away from home, and is currently on a 10-game winning streak in such games. Stanford’s last first- or second-round loss away from home was in the 2001 tournament, when the Cardinal fell 67-50 to Oklahoma in Norman on March 19, 2001.

This weekend’s action also presents a unique situation for the Cardinal. Should Stanford win its opening-round game against South Dakota, it faces the possibility of a matchup with No. 7 seed Iowa State on the Cyclones’ home floor. Stanford has played five NCAA Tournament games on an opponent’s home court, and owns a 2-3 record in those games. The most recent such game was in 2009, when Stanford defeated No. 10 seed San Diego State, 77-49, at Cox Pavilion on March 23, 2009.

Another Smash Hit With “N-E-R-D-S (#NerdAnthem)”
Chiney Ogwumike and the Stanford women’s basketball team did it again this week, becoming the talk of the women’s basketball world Monday morning with the release of “N-E-R-D-S (#NerdAnthem)”, the follow-up to 2012’s hit “Nerd City Kids.” The new single quickly rose in popularity on social media, approaching 26,000 views on YouTube within its first two days live, and being tweeted and retweeted and shared on Facebook by scores of people.

The song is written by Ogwumike and with music by Lee Merritts, and performed by Ogwumike and redshirt sophomore guard Jasmine Camp, with 2Fresh, Hookslide and Bud Anderson. The single is set to become the newest anthem of Stanford Athletics’ “Nerd Movement” ahead of Stanford’s participation in both the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

“This song is a celebration of Stanford’s unique culture, and I felt that with March Madness having arrived for both the women’s and men’s basketball teams, this was the ideal time for this anthem,” Ogwumike said upon the song’s release Monday. “The concept of being a ‘Nerd’ is one in which every student-athlete takes an immense amount of pride, and it is a bonding element to our successes both in the classroom and in the athletic arena. With so many Stanford athletic programs represented in this video, we hope that this anthem serves as our rallying cry not only as we continue to strive for championships, but also approach Finals Week!”

Homecoming For Greenfield
Monday’s bracket unveiling brought a pleasant surprise to one Cardinal player, as Huxley, Iowa native Taylor Greenfield will return to her home state for the first time in her collegiate career. Huxley is located just 10 minutes from Ames, and Greenfield, who averages 5.7 points per game and shoots 39.1 percent from behind the arc this year for the Cardinal, was a WBCA High School All-American in 2011 for Ballard Community High School, helping lead the school to an Iowa state title in 2009 and semifinal appearances in 2010 and 2011.

All-America Honor For Ogwumike
Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike was named an All-American by espnW last Friday, marking the second straight season in which she was honored by the organization. And the honor was well-deserved, as the Cypress, Texas native is the only player in the nation to rank in the NCAA’s top 10 in scoring (26.8 ppg - third), rebounding (12.3 rpg - seventh), field-goal percentage (61.0 - third) and double-doubles (24 - sixth), and dominated the Pac-12 en route to sweeping the Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards for the second straight season. Behind Ogwumike’s play, Stanford captured its 14th straight Pac-12 regular-season title with a 17-1 mark in conference play and went 29-3 overall.

Chiney Ogwumike Against The Top-25
February 14’s 61-35 win over Arizona State improved Stanford’s record against Top-25 teams this season to 8-1. Over those nine games, Stanford’s received great performances from numerous players, most notably national player of the year candidate Chiney Ogwumike, the only player in the country to rank in the national Top 10 in scoring (26.8 ppg - third), rebounding (12.3 rpg - seventh), field-goal percentage (61.0 - third), and double-doubles (24 - sixth) through March 16. Over nine games against Top-25 teams this year, Ogwumike is averaging 25.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and shooting 59.4 percent with 14 blocked shots. Below is a game-by-game breakdown of Ogwumike’s lines against those teams:

Start A New Final Four Streak
Stanford’s run of five straight Final Fours was snapped last year with the Cardinal’s 71-69 loss in the Spokane Regional Semifinal to Georgia. This year’s tournament gives the Cardinal a chance to return to the game’s signature event, and Stanford has the chance to take advantage of one key factor: hosting the regional. This year, Stanford is hosting a regional, so all the Cardinal needs to do is get past two games in Ames this weekend, then it will have the home-court advantage for regional play in two weeks.

Career Year For Ruef
Redshirt senior forward Mikaela Ruef has worked through so much during her five years on The Farm, so it has been very satisfying to see the Beavercreek, Ohio native enjoy a career year in 2013-14 in which she was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention. After opening her career on the end of the bench in 2009-10, Ruef saw more minutes in important moments as a sophomore, but had that momentum wiped away in 2011-12 as she sat out all but three games due to a foot injury. Yet she worked her way back into the rotation early last year, making her first start in Stanford’s 71-69 upset of No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 16, 2012 and grabbing 12 rebounds while playing staunch defense against Baylor star Brittany Griner. She would go on to average 4.2 points and 6.6 rebounds while making 29 starts.

This season, Ruef has built on that momentum, averaging career highs of 6.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.19 assists per game while starting 31 of the Cardinal’s 32 contests. What has made her such a role model for teammates, however, is her resiliency. Ruef decided to come back for her fifth year to finish her master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering without a scholarship, and took a part-time job as an engineer on campus, working on Stanford’s energy-conversion projects to help pay her tuition costs. However, a scholarship opened up, and Ruef, without the burden of paying tuition, has been able to balance her job, academic work, and game, as she has posted five double-doubles and 16 double-figure rebounding games this season, including a career day of 16 points and 22 rebounds on February 9 at Washington.

Emerging Leaders
Two Cardinal players have emerged this year to establish themselves as future leaders. Freshman guard Lili Thompson and junior forward Bonnie Samuelson have each broken into the starting lineup as the season went on, Thompson in the third game of the year and Samuelson on February 23 in Los Angeles. Thompson has been a sparkplug in the Cardinal back court, averaging 7.8 points per game and shooting a Pac-12 leading 43.5 percent from behind the arc, while Samuelson averages 6.8 points per game and leads the team with 48 3-pointers made.


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