Speed a concern for Stanford vs. Hampton

Speed a concern for Stanford vs. Hampton
March 17, 2012, 12:22 am
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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) Stanford might have the most interesting situation for a top seed in the women's NCAA tournament.

The Cardinal had to travel across country to face a Hampton team that felt disrespected when it was made a No. 16 seed, and will be playing about 11 miles from its campus.

The Cardinal (31-1) and Pirates (26-4) meet Saturday at the Constant Center, after eighth-seeded West Virginia (23-9) and ninth-seeded Texas (18-13) meet in the opener.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said the hardest part about the game will be containing the Pirates' speed and quickness.

Once the ball goes up, seeding doesn't matter, forward Chiney Ogwumike said.

"Being a 1 seed is great, and the validation of hard work throughout the season, but basketball is a game of matchups," she said. "Either way, you win, you go on. You lose, you go home. It doesn't matter the number that goes in front of your school."

Unless, perhaps, that number is as high as they go on the seeding chart.

The Pirates, of the lightly regarded Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, set a school record for victories, are second only to Connecticut in scoring defense (46.8) and are in the tournament for the third year in a row. Last year, as a No. 13 seed, they fell 66-62 in overtime against Kentucky, proving to point guard Jericka Jenkins "that we can play with the big dogs."

That feeling carries over to this year, senior forward Keiara Avant said.

"I feel like, of course, we have a chip on our shoulder, making it last year with Kentucky into overtime," she said. "We knew that we could have sealed the deal but, this time, we're ready and we're going to be focused."

The Cardinal will be, too.

The game marks the start of the final tournament for Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Chiney's older sister, and the team wants to make it special for her.

Nnemkadi averages 21.8 points and 10.5 rebounds. Chiney averaged 15.8 and 10.3.

"She's a sister to us all, really," forward Joslyn Tinkle said of Nnemdaki, one of two seniors on the roster. "We play every game for her and the rest of the seniors that we have."

The Pirates will be bolstered by the return of Melanie Warner, their third-leading scorer with a 10.7 ppg average. Warner has been out since Feb. 19 with a broken finger.

And by the crowd, Hampton coach David Six hopes.

"I know one thing," he said with a broad smile. "There's going to be a lot of people from Hampton Roads there tomorrow. That's definitely a plus."

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