The Stanford Cardinal keep making 3-pointers and the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament booked yet another trip to the Sweet 16.
Haley Jones scored 17 points and Stanford unleased another long-range barrage with 13 3-pointers to outlast No. 8 Oklahoma State 73-62 on Tuesday night.
The scoring wave came after Stanford made 15 3-pointers in their opening round at the tournament in Texas, where the Cardinal advance to their 27th Sweet 16 overall in pursuit of a third national championship. Stanford hasn’t won a title since 1992.
The outcome may seem typical, but it finished a little closer than Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer would have liked after the Cardinal opened up 20-point lead in the third quarter. And those 3-pointers covered up mistakes like 16 turnovers, missed layups and poor shooting over the final minutes.
“This is a tough game. I think that’s good. I think it’s good to have tough games,” VanDerveer said. “I’m excited about the win, I’m excited about moving on and we know that we have to play better.”
The Cardinal advance to play the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between No. 5 Missouri State and No. 13 Wright State in the Alamo Region.
Stanford (27-2) had four players score in double figures and all five starters made at least one 3-pointer. Neferatali Notoa scored 14 for Oklahoma State (19-9).
The Stanford 3-pointers came from everywhere from the opening minute.
Anna Wilson opened the scoring with consecutive shots from long range for a quick 10-3 Stanford lead. The Cowgirls committed five turnovers in the first quarter then briefly turned momentum with a 9-2 run.
Energized by the run, Oklahoma State’s quick hands on defense were disrupting the Cardinal on both ends and Notoa tied it at 23 with a deep 3-pointer.
Then Stanford unleashed a 19-4 run that had all the Cardinal scoring weapons on display.
Cameron Brink started it with a 3-pointer from the left wing before Kiana Williams made three in a row. Williams then made a nifty 30-foot pass to sprinting Francesca Belibi for a transition basket. Wilson knocked down her third 3-pointer of the half and Stanford led 42-27.
Stanford stretched the lead to 58-38 before Oklahoma State made one last push with a 12-3 run to close the quarter. Stanford then got a scare when Williams limped off after twisting her ankle on a block, but she quickly returned early in the fourth.
The Cardinal opened the final period with Brink’s soaring put back of a miss, and a muscular post-move layup from Jones and the lead was back to 15.
“They’ve got people that can shoot the basketball,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “They stepped up and hit shots and were good when they needed to be. Every time we did make a run, they had somebody that made a play.”
Stanford will be keeping an eye on Williams’ tweaked ankle. She’s the Cardinal’s career leader in 3-pointers.
“She will have her ankle in an (ice) bucket. Hopefully it will be all right,” VanDerveer said, adding that not playing until Saturday should give her time to rest it and “be ready.”
BIG BROTHER WATCHING
Williams is from San Antonio and brought a big cheering section, but none more famous than Wilson’s big brother. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was at the game to catch what may be his sister’s final NCAA tournament. She wears the same No. 3 he does and scored eight of Stanford’s first 10 points.
“I think after I hit the third three, I looked at him. He’s a main reason for why I came back for a fifth year,” Anna Wilson said. “I love having my brother in the stands. Obviously, he can’t come to everything because he’s an athlete as well doing his craft and everything … He’s my biggest fan in the world and I’m really appreciative of him being able to be here.”