Tulsa falls short against No. 1 seed Stanford

JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer Published:

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Matilda Mossman's Tulsa team had already accomplished something remarkable by winning four games in four days to earn an improbable Conference USA tournament title as the sixth seed.

So, why not do it again on Stanford's home floor in the NCAA tournament? The Cardinal had lost as a No. 1 seed at the hands of 16th-seeded Harvard back in 1998 -- and the Golden Hurricane players knew all about it.

Tulsa hung tough with top-seeded Stanford well into the second half of Sunday's 72-56 first-round loss at Maples Pavilion, ending a surprising season in impressive fashion despite the defeat.

"History had already said it could be done," Mossman said of her team's upset in the conference tournament. "We used that same example. It happened here in 1998. It happened here on their home floor. It happened a 16 against a No. 1. It wasn't going to be easy. Just because they were upset 15 years ago didn't mean it was going to happen again."

Chiney Ogwumike was the biggest problem.

Ogwumike scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Stanford pulled away in the second half to survive a hard-fought effort by 16th-seeded Tulsa.

"We are not a team that overlooks anyone," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We can beat anyone and we can get beaten by anyone."

Taleya Mayberry scored 18 points and Kelsee Grovey added 12 for Tulsa (17-17), back in the tournament for the first time since 2006 after that special run to the Conference USA tournament title. And the Golden Hurricane hardly played like one of the lowest seeds in the bracket.

Tulsa scrapped for loose balls, jumped in the passing lanes for steals and took Stanford out of its comfort zone from the opening tip. The Golden Hurricane, riding a five-game winning streak under second-year coach Mossman, pulled within 32-30 on a basket by Loren McDaniel with 16:38 remaining, but couldn't keep up against the talented Cardinal (32-2) the rest of the way.

Conference Player of the Year Ogwumike took charge in Stanford's quest for a sixth straight Final Four after her big sister, Nneka, became the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft and the league's rookie of the year with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Up next for Stanford is a second-round date with either No. 8 seed Michigan or ninth-seeded Villanova on Tuesday night. Those teams were playing the second game Sunday at Maples.

Still, for a half at least, this game brought back memories of top-seeded Stanford's stunning 71-67 loss to No. 16 seed Harvard at home in the 1998 tournament -- still the only time a No. 1 team in the men's or women's field has lost to a 16 seed.

VanDerveer didn't even go there. She didn't need to reflect on that memory, because her players know exactly what took place for the injury-plagued Cardinal.

"We know our history, we can learn from history," Ogwumike said.

Joslyn Tinkle had nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal for Stanford. Taylor Greenfield came off the bench and contributed nine points in Stanford's 18th straight victory since a home loss to rival California on Jan. 13. The Cardinal won their seventh consecutive conference tournament crown and shared a 13th straight regular-season championship.

Their plan was to take Mayberry out of her game, and that is what Orrange did with her defense. Averaging 18.7 points coming in, Mayberry had four assists and shot 6 for 18 in her final collegiate game and missed all three of her 3-point tries.

VanDerveer said she would miss guard Toni Kokenis as a defensive option against Mayberry.

Kokenis hasn't played since Feb. 3 at Oregon State, sidelined with an undisclosed illness. She missed her ninth straight game and 10th overall.

It took Stanford well into the second half to find a rhythm. Early on, Tulsa trapped full court whenever it had the opportunity to make things more difficult for the home team, including after a timeout midway through the first half that forced Stanford into a 30-second violation.

"We were a little anxious," Ogwumike said.

Ogwumike scored 15 of her points in the second half and left to a standing ovation with 1 minute to go. She also had three assists and shot 13 for 18.

"There's no question she's the best post player we played against all year long," Mossman said. "We couldn't match her effort in the second half."