STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Early in the second half, Stanford found itself facing a six-point deficit on its home court against a less heralded team in the NCAA Tournament.
That’s when Lili Thompson and Taylor Greenfield took the game over.
Thompson and Greenfield each scored seven points in a game-changing, second-half run that helped fourth-seeded Stanford overcome a long scoring drought in the first half to beat No. 13 seed Cal State Northridge 73-60 in a first-round game Saturday.
“I looked up and realized we were down and that made me kind of mad,” Thompson said. “I was like, ‘Come on guys. Let’s get it together.’ We ran some plays and my teammates found me. … That just kind of changed the momentum and allowed other people to pick it up.”
Greenfield with 19 points and Thompson had 17 as they took the game over during a 14-0 run that broke open a tie game early in the second half for the Cardinal (25-9).
Bonnie Samuelson added 14 points and Erica McCall had 10 to help Stanford improve to 31-4 at home in NCAA Tournament play. The Cardinal advanced to play fifth-seeded Oklahoma (21-11) in the second round of the Oklahoma City regional on Monday.
Ashlee Guay scored 27 points to lead the Matadors (23-10), who once again failed to get their first NCAA Tournament victory.
“We expected to win,” coach Jason Flowers said. “There are kids in that locker room in tears because they are going home having played their last collegiate basketball game.”
Cal State Northridge was in good shape with a six-point lead early in the second half that had the home crowd at Maples Pavilion concerned.
But the Cardinal scored eight straight points starting with a jumper by Thompson and never trailed again. With the game tied at 40, Stanford took over.
“You can kind of see Lili just turns it on and you see her face change,” Greenfield said. “When she hit that first one, everyone on the court knew what was happening so we were like, ‘Let’s get her the ball again.”
Thompson started the big run with a 3-pointer and a pullup jumper. Amber Orrange dove for a loose ball and fed Thompson for a layup later in the spurt. Greenfield added two baskets and three free throws as the Matadors missed nine straight shots.
By the time Emily Cole hit a 3-pointer to break a more than 7 minute drought for Cal State Northridge, the Cardinal were in control.
“We struggled to score because we had individual breakdowns,” Guay said. “We got on our own islands at times. Once we brought it back together, we realized when we’re together we can play well.”
Stanford built an early 10-point lead before going cold from the field. The Cardinal went nearly 8 minutes without scoring as the Matadors scored 13 straight points.
Stanford then hit its final three shots at the half but still trailed 29-28 at the break when Guay hit a layup in the closing seconds.
Cal State Northridge: The Matadors lost their only two previous NCAA Tournament appearances to Colorado State in 1999 and South Carolina last year. … Guay finished her career with a school-record 1,761 points.
Stanford: Coach Tara VanDerveer won her 800th career game at Stanford. She became the 10th college basketball coach — men’s or women’s — with at least 800 victories at a single Division I school. … The Cardinal won their 500th game at Maples Pavilion against just 87 losses.
Stanford made 18 of 23 free throws in the second half, while the Matadors were just 1 for 1. While many of the attempts for the Cardinal came when Cal State Northridge was fouling on purpose late, the discrepancy bothered Flowers that he wouldn’t answer why it occurred.
“I don’t make enough money to answer that question,” he said.
While Gray carried the Matadors offensively, backcourt mates Janae Sharpe and Cinnamon Lister struggled. Sharpe shot 2 for 12 and Lister was 2 for 10 in their final games.
“It’s really hard for one person to carry the whole team even though she did have 27 points,” VanDerveer said.
Cal State Northridge: Season over.
Stanford: Oklahoma on Monday.