By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Tara VanDerveer got together with her sophomore point guard Amber Orrange at halftime to discuss options.
As usual, their observations proved accurate as the fourth-ranked and No. 1 seed Stanford women's basketball team recorded a dominant second half en route to a 72-56 victory over Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday in Maples Pavilion.
Chiney Ogwumike was once again at the center of the energized Cardinal (32-2) effort, scoring 15 of her game-high 29 points in the second half. She sat out four minutes of the first half after drawing her second foul.
"I always talk to Amber at halftime about things that are working or not working," VanDerveer said. "I was disappointed in how we we started the game but rather than dwell on that I said let's have a great second half. Our numbers in the second half were awesome."
Indeed. The Cardinal shot over 65 percent from the field, outrebounded the Golden Hurricane, 22-13, and reduced its turnovers to turn a fascinating duel into a rout.
"The first 20 minutes were not our best basketball," Ogwumike said. "Coach always tells us the game is not won or lost in the first five minutes. You have to weather the storm. We have a short memory and put things aside."
Stanford advances to the second round, playing No. 8 Michigan, in its second straight NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000-01, which beat No. 9 Villanova, 60-52. That game will be played Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with the winner moving on to the Sweet Sixteen in Spokane next weekend.
The Golden Hurricane, winners of the Conference USA tournament, held a 28-27 lead about two minutes into the second half after playing Stanford to a 24-24 halftime.
The Cardinal spent the next eight minutes erasing any idea Tulsa had of pulling off another No. 16 over No. 1 seed upset. Stanford was up, 50-35, with 10:25 remaining to play.
"We know the history," Ogwumike said. "People forget about the extenuating circumstances."
VanDerveer, who was on the wrong end of Harvard's 71-67 upset in 1998, still the only time, men or women, a 16 seed beat a 1 seed, used it as a reminder.
"This team can beat anybody and anybody can beat us," she said. "It took us a little time to get some traction and get going. We're moving on and playing Tuesday, so I'm happy."
Stanford led by 20 with 1:15 remaining to play, a reminder why the Cardinal was chosen as one of the four top seeds.
"That's not a team that panics," Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman said. "They were diligent in beating the press. They didn't hurry. There was a 6-8 minute period there where they outscored us by 16 and we couldn't recover from that. Chiney was fabulous. We couldn't stop her."
Mossman said Ogwumike was the best post player Tulsa played against all season.
"She's so relentless, she keeps moving," she said. "She's a great athlete and uses her speed and quickness. Add the fact that she works extremely hard on every possession, she never takes a possession off. It's hard to match her effort because that's the way she plays."
Orrange added 14 points while Joslyn Tinkle had nine points and blocked three shots.