STANFORD, Calif. - No. 1 seed Stanford returns to the West Coast, bussing to Fresno for its 19th Sweet 16 appearance Saturday as it takes on fifth-seeded South Carolina at 8:30 p.m. at the Save Mart Center. Saturday's regional semifinal will be televised live on ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.com with Dave Pasch on the call, Debbie Antonelli as analyst and Heather Cox reporting from the sideline. The game will also be carried over the airwaves on 90.1 KZSU with Sam Fisher and Joe Lami on the call.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal rolled to a 72-55 second-round victory over No. 8 seed West Virginia Monday night in Norfolk, advancing to its 19th Sweet 16 in Fresno this weekend. Freshman Amber Orrange stole the show Monday night, driving and shooting her way to a career-best 18 points along with seven rebounds and five assists against the Mountaineers. Senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 16 points with five rebounds while Chiney Ogwumike scored 13 points, Toni Kokenis 10 and Joslyn Tinkle added nine points with seven rebounds and two blocks. The Cardinal defense showed it deserved some attention, holding the Mountaineers to just 31.1-percent shooting from the field, blocking eight shots and making six steals.
Stanford's Road To Denver
Stanford, the No. 1 seed of the Fresno Region, completed the first step of its Road to Denver last weekend, defeating Hampton and West Virginia in opening-round action in Norfolk, Va. Last weekend's trip to Norfolk was the first time since 2001, when the Cardinal traveled to Norman, Okla., that Stanford opened the NCAA Tournament east of the Rocky Mountains.
This weekend will also be Stanford's second NCAA Tournament trip to Fresno and the Save Mart Center. In 2005, the Cardinal traveled to The Valley for opening round action, defeating Santa Clara (94-57) and Utah (88-62).
Stanford In The NCAA Tournament
Heading into Saturday's regional semifinal against South Carolina, Stanford owns an all-time record of 67-23 (.744) in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal has won a pair of national titles (1990, 1992), advanced to the Final Four 10 times, tied for third-most all-time with Louisiana Tech, including the past four in a row. Additionally, Stanford has reached 19 Sweet 16s and 14 Elite Eights.
Scouting South Carolina
South Carolina (25-9) defeated Eastern Michigan and Purdue last weekend in West Lafayette, Ind. to punch its first ticket to the Sweet 16 since 2002. The Gamecocks, guided by head coach Dawn Staley, finished tied for fourth in the SEC and are led by the play of Markeshia Grant (11.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and La'Keisha Sutton (10.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg).
All-Time Against South Carolina
Stanford and South Carolina have met three times, all since the 2005-06 season. The teams met at Maples Pavilion last season, with the Cardinal capturing a 70-32 win on Nov. 26, 2010.
Against The SEC In The NCAA Tournament
Stanford is 9-6 all-time against the SEC in the NCAA Tournament. Saturday's regional semifinal will be the first NCAA Tournament meeting between Stanford and South Carolina. The Gamecocks will be the eighth SEC team that Stanford has met in NCAA Tournament play.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike Strengthens Her National Player Of The Year Case
Senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike's national player of the year and All-America campaign is running full steam heading into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Nneka, named a finalist for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy last week, has led a young group of Cardinal players to a 12th straight conference title, sixth straight Pac-12 Tournament crown and a third straight 18-0 Pac-12 record. The senior forward, who was named Pac-12 Player of the Year for the second time in her career earlier this month, and has been named Pac-12 Player of the Week three times this season, leads the Pac-12 in scoring (21.8 ppg), is second in rebounding (10.3 rpg) and free-throw percentage (82.4). and fourth in field-goal percentage (54.5). She also ranks in the national top 20 in scoring (10th), rebounding (14th) and field-goal percentage (16th) through March 19.
Stanford And South Carolina's Olympic Connection
Saturday's contest between Stanford and South Carolina will feature an interesting connection between members of the opposing coaching staffs. Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer served as the USA Basketball Olympic Team head coach at the 1996 Atlanta Games, while Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley and assistant coach Nikki McCray played on the team that went 60-0 during the 1995-96 season and captured Olympic Gold with a perfect 8-0 run in the tournament.
Freshman point guard Amber Orrange has quickly made a name for herself with a stellar opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Houston, Texas native put up career-bests of 18 points and seven rebounds in Monday's win over West Virginia, just two days after passing out a career-best 11 assists in Saturday's first-round win over Hampton. Heading into the regional semifinal, Orrange is third amongst all players with 8.00 assists per game in the tournament, and so far owns this year's tournament's top single-game mark with her 11 assists against Hampton.
Chip On Her Shoulder
Another of Stanford's major contributors during this tournament has been junior forward Joslyn Tinkle. Although she did not break into the starting lineup fulltime until Jan. 12 at Utah, Tinkle has played a motivated brand of basketball since, averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds while posting shooting percentages of 47.8/42.2/87.5 (FG/3-Pt./FT). She starred again during last weekend's opening-round wins over Hampton and West Virginia, averaging 12.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. From the field, she shot 64.5 percent (9-for-13), including a white-hot 6-for-8 (75.0) from behind the arc that featured a career-best four treys Saturday against Hampton.
Despite experiencing a scare in Saturday's first-round game against Hampton when she bruised her knee in a pile-up, sophomore forward Chiney Ogwumike recovered to not only return to action the second half, but also play a big role in Monday's win over West Virginia. Despite only playing 14 minutes against Hampton, Chiney managed to score nine points and grab six rebounds, then followed with 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks against the Mountaineers Monday. She continued attacking Monday, getting to the line for 12 free throws, out of which she made nine to raise her season percentage to 68.3 percent.
Contributions From The Second City
Stanford has also received important contributions during the tournament from its Chicago-area twosome of sophomore guard Toni Kokenis and redshirt junior center Sarah Boothe. Kokenis, an All-Pac-12 Team selection, is averaging 9.5 points and 4.0 rebounds over the two wins, while Boothe, who returned from a 13-game injury layoff on March 4, has given the Cardinal solid minutes off the bench, co-leading the team with four blocks and shooting 42.7 percent over 18.5 minutes a game.
Freshman guards Jasmine Camp (stress fracture revealed Dec. 19) and Alex Green (torn Achilles' tendon suffered Nov. 18) will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season. Forward Mikaela Ruef (foot), who had not played since Nov. 17, is out for the season after having surgery last week on her injured foot.