Stanford will be in familiar territory as it attempts to become the first repeat champion in women’s basketball since Connecticut in 2016.
The Cardinal (28-3) received the top seed in the Spokane-area NCAA tournament on Sunday and will host the first two rounds at the Maples Pavilion. Stanford plays No. 16 Montana State (22-12) on Friday, with the winner going up against either No. 8 Kansas (20-9) or No. 9 Georgia Tech (21-10).
With two wins, Stanford would travel to Spokane, hometown of Cardinal starters Lexie and Lacie Hull.
“We have to focus on those next two games, but the opportunity to play in Spokane in front of friends and family is very special,” Lexie said. “Last year I got to play in front of Ki’s family in San Antonio. It seems really fun to play in front of people who love you so much.
“Hopefully we just work hard and get to play there.”
The 2021 tournament was held entirely in San Antonio, hometown of then-senior Kiana Williams, due to COVID concerns.
Williams is the only player not to have returned from the Cardinal’s title. But it took Stanford some time to adjust without their point guard and leading scorer. The Cardinal started 8-3, including a home loss to Texas that put a damper on the post-game banner ceremony celebrating the 2021 championship.
But Stanford hasn’t lost since Dec. 21 in South Carolina and went through the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament undefeated.
As a result, the cardinal, as expected, received second place in the standings. Stanford has ranked second in the AP poll since Christmas, behind South Carolina, which earned the No. 1 overall seed.
Texas is No. 2 in the Spokane area, and LSU is No. 3 in its freshman year under former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey. 4 Maryland or No. 5 Virginia Tech could be waiting for you in the Sweet Sixteen.
“Each mount is loaded,” said Tara VanDerveer. “There are so many great teams, you’re going to play with great teams in any class, that’s the nature of the game. But who knows? We have Montana State to take care of, that’s our focus. We just have to play well. We know how important it is to play well in every game.”
VanDerveer didn’t know much about the Montana State other than their mascot, the Bobcats. It is Montana State’s third NCAA appearance and first since 2017.
“My hard drive is loading, and I’ll know as much as I can over the next three days,” VanDerveer said. “We will be ready.”
Kansas is making its first NCAA appearance since 2013, while Georgia Tech lost to South Carolina as the No. 5 seed last season in the Sweet Sixteen. No school has ever progressed beyond the Sweet Sixteen in its history.
Stanford is seeking its fourth NCAA title after victories in 1990, 1992 and 2021.
“I think the experience will definitely help us,” said VanDerveer. “If we have to dig deeper, we know we have extra gas in the tank.”
https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/03/13/stanford-women-get-another-no-1-seed-will-face-montana-state-in-ncaa-first-round/ Stanford gets another #1 seed