AMES, Iowa (AP) — The last time Stanford didn’t make it to the NCAA women’s Sweet 16 was 2007. Florida State was the team that stopped the Cardinal, on Stanford’s home court no less.
They’ll meet Monday night for the first time since then with a spot in the regional semifinals on the line again. The teams even have the same seeds as in ’07, with Florida State a No. 10 and Stanford a No. 2.
The difference is that they’ll play on a neutral court in the middle of the country.
“No, I’m not superstitious,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said Sunday. “They’re a little different team, we’re a little different team. We know what we have to do. We just have to come out and do it.”
Stanford’s motivation is to return home to play in the regional it will host at Maples Pavilion starting Saturday and continue its quest for a sixth appearance in the Final Four in seven years. The Seminoles, who got into the tournament as an at-large selection, are looking to pull an upset the magnitude of the one in 2007.
FSU point guard Cheetah Delgado said the program-changing win seven years ago only serves as a history lesson for her and her teammates.
“We know it’s been done and we know it’s possible,” Delgado said.
The Seminoles (21-11) advanced to the round of 32 with a 55-44 victory over host Iowa State on Saturday. The Cardinal (30-3) defeated South Dakota 81-62.
The game will feature two of the top players in the country in Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike and FSU’s Natasha Howard. The Seminoles will throw their 2-3 zone defense against the 6-foot-4 Ogwumike, who scored 23 points against South Dakota and became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer.
The 2007 win over Candice Wiggins-led Stanford marked the first time Florida State made it to the Sweet 16.
“We’re on a neutral court, we’re two very good basketball teams going head to head,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “It’s more about that matchup than anything else that has happened in the past.”
Five things to know about the Florida State-Stanford game:
INJURY REPORT: Stanford’s Mikaela Ruef and FSU’s Ivey Slaughter will play after being injured Saturday. Ruef left the game against South Dakota with 5 minutes left in the first half after she hit her head during a scrum for a ball. Slaughter hurt her back going for a rebound late in the game against Iowa State.
OGWUMIKE ERA: This is the sixth, and final, season of the Ogwumike era at Stanford. Chiney played two seasons with older sister Nneke, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 WNBA draft. With one or both in the program, Stanford has won 200 of 218 games, played in two national-championship games and in two other Final Fours.
“I don’t like to think about it, but I do think about it,” VanDerveer said. “I just know that each game could be the last one I coach Chiney, and we want to have a great game. We want to keep it going for sure.”
TURNOVER WOES: Florida State came into the tournament 324th nationally in turnovers at 19.3 a game. Semrau said she can live with that as long as her team keeps hitting the boards the way it has. The Seminoles have a plus-6.7 rebounding margin and are outscoring opponents by an average of 15-10 on second-chance baskets.
“To find a way to win, even when not every statistic is what you want it to be as a coach, is really important this time of year,” Semrau said.
THIEVERY PAYS: The Seminoles don’t just give away the ball a lot, they have a knack for taking it away. They’re 18-3 when they make 10 or more steals. Their opponents commit just under 20 turnovers a game.
GREENFIELD’S HOMECOMING: Stanford reserve Taylor Greenfield, who grew up 10 miles from Ames in Huxley, had six points and four assists against South Dakota. She played 23 minutes, her most playing time in 10 games, because of the injury to Ruef.
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