Stanford looks to shake off rust vs. Kansas State (Mar 20, 2017)

Second-seeded Stanford got a surprisingly stern test to begin the NCAA Tournament, but the Cardinal survived and advanced to face No. 7-seed Kansas State on Monday in the second round of at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.

The Cardinal (29-5) trailed 15th-seeded New Mexico State by seven at halftime and were down one heading into the fourth quarter.

Erica McCall converted a traditional three-point play midway through the fourth quarter, and Stanford rallied for a 72-64 win. Sophomore forward Alanna Smith came off the bench to score 19 points, grab 11 rebounds and block six shots for the Cardinal.

“I don’t think we took them lightly,” said senior guard Karlie Samuelson, who hit five 3-pointers against New Mexico State. “Every team in this tournament is really good. I think we prepared for that.”

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer pinned the slow start against the Aggies on rust. The Cardinal had not played since beating Oregon State the Pac-12 tournament final on March 6.

“You could tell we’ve been off for two weeks,” VanDerveer told reporters. “Hopefully, we get the rust off, and we’ll be better on Monday.”

Kansas State (23-10) had an easier time with Drake, grabbing the lead early in the first quarter and never giving it up. Breanna Lewis scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, lifting the Wildcats to a 67-54 victory.

Stanford, as the No. 2 seed, normally would have hosted the first two rounds, but the Pac-12 gymnastics championships are taking place at Maples Pavilion. Due to the scheduling conflict, the NCAA rewarded the opening rounds to Kansas State, and the pro-Wildcat crowd played a role Saturday and could do so again Monday.

“They were so loud. They brought the energy,” senior guard Kindred Wesemann told reporters after Saturday’s win. “If they bring the same energy Monday night, it’ll be a lot of fun to play.”

Kansas State is 14-3 at Bramlage Coliseum this season, with its lone losses to Connecticut, Texas and Baylor.

“I think we’re where we set our goals out to be in terms of advancing in the tournament, but we’re not there and we’re still playing,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie told reporters. “What I have enjoyed the most of the growth of this team is the fact that they have really continued to learn to prepare and have such a great appreciation of learning to play the game the right way.”