No. 2 Stanford 79, UC Riverside 47
Tara VanDerveer didn't have to say anything about upsets, even right after the favored Kansas men were shocked out of the tournament by Northern Iowa just before Stanford took the court.
No repeat here of 1998, when the Cardinal were last a No. 1 seed and lost to Harvard to become the only top seed in the men's or women's tournament ever to lose to the 16th seed.
``As we saw with Kansas losing, nobody's safe in the NCAA tournament,'' Stanford's Kayla Pedersen said.
Pac-10 Player of the Year Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 19 points and 11 rebounds and top-seeded Stanford rolled into the second round of the NCAA tournament's Sacramento Regional with a 79-47 victory over No. 16 seed UC Riverside on Saturday night.
Jeanette Pohlen added 16 points and the host Cardinal (32-1) won their 23rd straight game since losing to defending national champion Connecticut on Dec. 23.
Stanford's rout capped off a perfect night for the higher seeds, marking the third time since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994 that they were unbeaten on the opening day of the tournament.
``I think the committee did a great job of seeding the tournament,'' VanDerveer said. ``Obviously we didn't want to be an upset. I think things have been a little bit set this year, not that that means it's going to be. I know everyone else likes upsets but I don't.''
Tre'Shonti Nottingham scored 10 points to lead overmatched Riverside (17-16), the Big West champion making its third NCAA tournament appearance in five years.
Stanford sure seems poised for a third straight trip to the Final Four. Next up is Iowa on Monday night, with the home crowd again expected to pack Maples Pavilion. The eighth-seeded Hawkeyes beat Rutgers 70-63 earlier Saturday.
The Cardinal have won 10 straight Pac-10 regular-season titles and the last four conference tournament crowns. If there is a team that can challenge UConn, maybe it's Stanford.
VanDerveer went to her bench early in the second half to get others some important tournament experience.
Pedersen scored 15 points despite going 0 for 8 in the first half and shooting 4 of 15 overall. She scored on Stanford's opening possession after halftime and again the next time down, and also grabbed 12 rebounds and made all seven of her free throws. Pohlen followed Pedersen's two baskets by knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers as Stanford began the half with a 10-0 burst.
All-America center Jayne Appel scored seven points in 15 minutes, getting ample time to rest while she continues to nurse a tender right ankle that kept her out of practice this week. She came off the bench for two games at the Pac-10 tournament last week before returning to the starting lineup against UCLA in the championship game.
``I thought that was about right for her to play,'' VanDerveer said. ``She probably wanted to play more. I thought she had a great (conference) tournament. She was off her ankle all week. We're going to need her if we're going to go deep in the tournament.''
Stanford shot 6 for 19 from 3-point range, missing 5 of its first 6 from long range, but held a 44-29 rebounding advantage and forced 15 turnovers.
There was no way this bunch was going to let down after losing 68-61 in the second round to Florida State on its home floor three years ago.
``Stanford is as good as they get,'' Highlanders coach John Margaritis said. ``It was an honor for us to come in here and compete against them. Looking at what transpired in those 40 minutes, I have nothing but admiration for Stanford in how they do things and a lot of pride for our young women. We battled and hung in there as long as we could.''
After Brittany Waddell's 3-pointer at the 11:55 mark of the first half pulled the Highlanders within 18-16, Stanford responded with a 19-7 run the rest of the way for a comfortable 37-23 halftime cushion.
``Stanford really showed us the level we wanted to get to,'' Riverside forward Rhaya Neabors said.