Stanford women return for another postseason dance | March 17, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 17, 2017

Stanford women return for another postseason dance

Cardinal reaches 30th consecutive NCAA tournament

by Rick Eymer

Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. is about 500 miles directly north of the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The Stanford women's basketball team would like nothing more than to wind up in Dallas for the NCAA Final Four after beginning its journey at Kansas State on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

It won't be a direct route, though, as the Cardinal will first need a regional stopover in Lexington, KY, about 700 miles southeast of Kansas.

The Cardinal (28-5) earned a No. 2 seed and was placed in the Lexington Regional and will open its tournament against No. 15 seed New Mexico State (24-6) in Manhattan, Kansas.

Host No. 7 seed Kansas State (22-10) and No. 10 Drake (28-4, 18-0 Missouri Valley) will play in the other first-round matchup, with the winners meeting in Monday's second-round contest at a time to be determined.

As one of the nation's top 16 overall seeds, Stanford would customarily host first- and second-round games, but is unable to this season. The Pac-12 women's gymnastics championships are scheduled for Maples Pavilion this weekend.

Stanford is 15-4 in first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games away from home and is currently on a 12-game winning streak.

Stanford and New Mexico State will be meeting for the first time on the hardwood. The Aggies are riding a 17-game winning streak and last weekend captured their third straight WAC Tournament crown with a 63-48 victory over Seattle University.

The teams may be meeting for the first time but Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer and Aggies coach Mark Trakh have a history. Trakh spent five years coaching at USC (2004-09), leading the Trojans back to national prominence.

VanDerveer owns a 1,008-230 career record and has more wins than 341 of the country's 349 Division I programs.

Trakh, who graduated from Long Beach State with a journalism degree in 1981, got his start coaching Brea-Olinda and building the program into a national powerhouse.

He had an overall record of 354-45, winning four state titles, six CIF Southern Section championships and 12 Orange League crowns.

Brea Olinda, which beat Priory during the during regular season, remains one of the nation's top programs.

Stanford is 80-28 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 46-24 in games away from Maples Pavilion.

The Cardinal and Aggies share two common opponents. Stanford beat Cal State Bakersfield, 77-56, in a nonconferec game while the Aggies beat the Roadrunners twice, 64-55 and 69-55, in Mountain West Conference play.

New Mexico State lost to Arizona, 74-63, during the nonconference season. The Cardinal beat the Wildcats twice, 77-55 and 73-46, in Pac-12 Conference play.

Stanford is 11-5 against the 64-team NCAA field, including 3-1 against teams in the top 10 at the time of the competition.

The Cardinal has a 10-2 road record this season, losing at Tennessee and Oregon State but also suffering home losses to Gonzaga, Oregon State and UCLA.

Stanford sophomore Alanna Smith is averaging 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over the last 10 games. She's one of three non-starters in the country to average 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the month of February.

Senior Erica McCall ranks 25th in school history in points (1,311), seventh in rebounds (921) and fourth in blocks (191). She has recorded 31 double-doubles in her last 67 games, the 10th most in the country over the past two seasons.

Cardinal senior Karlie Samuelson is fourth among active players in career 3-point field goal percentage (.438), fourth in school history in 3-point makes (233) and 33rd in points (1,111). She is fourth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage this season (.476).

Brittany McPhee's 6.2 per game scoring increase over last season is the third-best in the Pac-12.

Stanford's 28 wins are its most entering the NCAA tournament since the program was 29-3 in 2014, the last time the Cardinal reached the Final Four.

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