DENVER - It's the matchup the nation has waited to see all year, as No. 1 seeds Stanford and Baylor, led by their national player of the year candidates Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Brittney Griner, respectively, meet at the Final Four Sunday at 6 p.m. PT at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The game will be televised live at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN and online at ESPN3.com with Dave O'Brien on the call, Doris Burke as analyst and Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe reporting from the sideline. The game will also be carried over the airwaves on 90.1 KZSU with Sam Fisher on the call.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal punched its ticket to its fifth straight Final Four, and 11th overall, with an 81-69 victory over No. 2 seed Duke Monday night in Fresno. Nnemkadi Ogwumike was named Fresno Regional Most Outstanding Player after scoring 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting with nine rebounds and three assists in the win, and averaged 34.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and shot 67.6 percent over the weekend. Younger sister Chiney Ogwumike was named to the All-Regional Team after scoring 12 points with 17 rebounds against the Blue Devils, while junior forward Joslyn Tinkle and freshman point guard Amber Orrange added 13 points apiece in Monday's win.
These Go To 11
This weekend's trip to Denver marks the 11th Final Four trip in Stanford women's basketball history, moving the Cardinal into third place amongst all schools. Stanford's 11 trips to the Final Four trails only Tennessee (18) and Connecticut (13). With this year being the Cardinal's fifth straight Final Four appearance (2008-12), it makes Stanford just the third different school to reach the event five consecutive years, following Connecticut (twice - 2000-04, 2008-12) and LSU (2004-08).
Stanford In The NCAA Tournament
Heading into Sunday's national semifinal against Baylor, Stanford owns an all-time record of 69-23 (.750) in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal has won a pair of national titles (1990, 1992), advanced to the Final Four 11 times (third-most all-time), including the past five in a row. Additionally, Stanford has reached 19 Sweet 16s and 16 Elite Eights.
Baylor (38-0) defeated Tennessee, 77-58, Monday night to punch its ticket into the Final Four. The Bears, making their third Final Four appearance (2005, 2010, 2012) and guided by head coach Kim Mulkey, won the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles and are led by the play of All-Americans Brittney Griner (23.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 5.24 bpg) and Odyssey Sims (14.8 ppg, 4.39 apg).
All-Time Against Baylor
Stanford and Baylor have only met three times prior, with the Bears winning two of those meetings. Baylor won the most recent meeting, defeating Stanford, 81-65 in Waco on Nov. 16, 2008.
Against The Big 12 In The NCAA Tournament
Stanford is 7-4 all-time against teams from the Big 12 in the NCAA Tournament. This record includes NCAA Tournament games against Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M, schools that were in the Big 12 at the time of the meeting with Stanford, but either are no longer in the conference or will no longer be after the 2011-12 season. Sunday's national semifinal will be the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the two schools.
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 peaking at the right time, as the national player of the year awards will be announced this weekend at the Final Four in Denver. Nneka, a finalist for the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and USBWA National Player of the Year Award, has led a young group of Cardinal players to the program's fifth straight Final Four (and 11th overall), in addition 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 (22.5 ppg) and free-throw percentage (82.9), and is second in rebounding (10.3 rpg). 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 20.
Ogwumike Putting Together One Of The Best Seasons In Stanford History Nnemkadi Ogwumike, a consensus national player of the year finalist and three-time USBWA and John R. Wooden Award All-American so far this season, has put together one of the best seasons any Cardinal player has ever had. Her 29 points last Monday against Duke gave her 787 for the year, matching Candice Wiggins' 2008 single-season record for points scored. Her 359 rebounds are fourth-best, 17 behind the single-season mark of 376 that she set in 2009-10, and her 22.5 points per game is currently the top single-season scoring average in Stanford history.
Nneka In The NCAA Tournament
In addition to finishing her final collegiate season, Nnemkadi Ogwumike is also in the midst of her final NCAA Tournament. Over the four tournaments of her career, Ogwumike has posted some eye-catching numbers. Over 20 NCAA Tournament games through Monday's win over Duke, Ogwumike is averaging 21.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.55 assists per game while shooting 57.7 percent (154-for-267) from the field and 79.0 percent from the free-throw line (113-for-143).
Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike became the first sisters named to the Associated Press All-America Teams earlier this week as Nnemkadi was a unanimous first-team pick and Chiney earned second-team status. Chiney, for whom the announcement marked her first All-America honor, has battled through a bruised knee to post big numbers this postseason, averaging 11.5 points and 13.5 rebounds last weekend in Fresno to earn a spot on the All-Regional Team. Despite playing just 14 minutes in the first round due to the injury, Chiney is still averaging 11.3 points and 9.8 rebounds and shooting 55.2 percent from the field during this NCAA Tournament.
Beware The Backcourt
Stanford's backcourt combo of sophomore Toni Kokenis and freshman Amber Orrange has raised its game this NCAA Tournament, combing to average 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.50 assists a game. Together, the pair has also committed just 13 turnovers, giving them a combined assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.92 over Stanford's first four wins. Orrange has arguably been the breakout player of the tournament, passing out a career-high 11 assists in the first-round win over Hampton then scoring a career-high 18 points against West Virginia. She most recently netted 13 in Monday's regional final win over Duke, while Kokenis scored 12 points last Saturday against South Carolina and matched her career high with eight assists Monday against Duke.
Don't Overlook Miss Montana
Another breakout star of this NCAA Tournament for Stanford has been Missoula, Mont. native Joslyn Tinkle. The junior forward worked her way into a full-time starting spot Jan. 12 at Utah and hasn't left the rotation since. Over her 24 starts this season, Tinkle has averaged 10.4 points and 6.2 rebounds while posting shooting percentages of 50.3/44.6/88.7 (FG/3-pt FG/FT). In this year's NCAA Tournament, Tinkle has been on fire, averaging 11.3 points (second-best on the team) and 4.8 rebounds a game while shooting 59.3 percent (16-for-27) from the field and a sizzling 62.5 percent (10-for-16) from 3-point range. Defensively, Tinkle is tied for the team lead with seven blocks over the first four games of the tournament.