The 16th-seed Tulsa Golden Hurricane put forth a valiant effort against the No. 1 seed Stanford Cardinal on Saturday afternoon, but fell 72-56 in the first round of the NCAA Championship. It was Tulsa’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006 and only second in school history, while Stanford was making its 27th overall and 26th straight NCAA appearance.
Stanford’s size, led by 6’3” All-American Chiney Ogwumike, was too much inside for the Hurricane as Ogwumike finished with 29 points and eight rebounds. Tulsa senior Taleya Mayberry and freshman Kelsee Grovey paced the Hurricane with 18 and 12 points, respectively. Mayberry added four assists and three steals in 38 minutes.
At the start of the contest, the Hurricane didn’t appear to have any jitters against the fourth-ranked Cardinal, and kept the home team in check for most of the first half to finish the first 20 minutes tied at 24. Tulsa’s pressure in the first half caused fits for the Stanford offense, forcing the Cardinal into seven first-half turnovers and a 38.5 shooting percentage. In the first four minutes, Tulsa’s pressure defense forced the Cardinal into four early turnovers and at the first media timeout held a 9-6 lead. Despite three ties in the first three minutes,
Tulsa led for most of the first nine minutes until a Taylor Greenfield three-pointer at the 11:04 mark put the Cardinal ahead 15-14. Tulsa took the lead 16-15 on a Mayberry layup, and again 22-21 on two Mariah Turner free throws and 24-22 on a Turner layup. Stanford’s Amber Orrange’s jumper with 1:11 remaining in the first half was the sixth tie of the game and kept the game even 24-24 at the intermission.
The Cardinal got its perimeter game going in the second half to complement Ogwumike, hitting 4-of-6 from behind the three-point line and shooting 66-percent overall from the field in the final 20 minutes and 53-percent for the game. Stanford began the final 20 minutes with a 19-7 run in the first seven minutes to take a 43-31 lead with 13:00 on the clock.
The Cardinal took its first double-figure lead at the 14:08 mark when Ogwumike made it 41-31 with a jumper in the paint. Orrange’s jumper gave Stanford a 17-point lead at 54-37, forcing Tulsa to take a timeout at the 9:04 mark. The Hurricane knocked its deficit down to 10 points four times in the next five minutes, but couldn’t get under double digits.
Tulsa cut the Stanford lead to 10 points for the final time with 4:03 remaining in the contest, but the Cardinal pulled away in the final three minutes for a 20-point lead with 1:15 to play. As it had the entire game, Tulsa battled to the finish and cut the final deficit to 13 points.
Tulsa closed out the season with a 17-17 record as the loss snapped a five-game Hurricane winning streak, while Stanford advanced to the second round with an overall 32-2 record to keep its bid alive for a sixth straight NCAA Final Four appearance.