Tulsa-Stanford Preview

The Associated Press

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- - Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle would enjoy seeing a rematch with Pac-12 Conference rival California. It would mean a lot to both teams and the conference.

That, however, can't come until the regional final - when the Cardinal would be looking to reach a sixth straight Final Four.

Top-seeded Stanford looks to run its winning streak to 18 games Sunday when it faces No. 16 seed Tulsa in the first round at Maples Pavilion.

Fourth-ranked Stanford (31-2) was given the No. 1 seed in the Spokane Region of the NCAA women's tournament. No. 6 California was awarded the No. 2 seed.

"It's a fun rivalry game, they're a good team and we went at it earlier in the year,'' Tinkle said. "Sometimes if you get that far, you don't know teams that well. We're so familiar and it's great competition. It would be awesome to see that game happen again.''

Stanford and Cal tied for the Pac-12 regular-season title, with the teams splitting the season series. The Bears were knocked out of the conference tournament by UCLA in the semifinal.

"Not getting to play Cal in the championship makes it different,'' said Cardinal junior Chiney Ogwumike, who will bring a 22.4 scoring average and 13.1 rebounding average into the tournament. "It's not so fresh in our minds. We love the Pac-12 and we want the Pac-12 to succeed. Honestly, I was excited to see Tulsa on the bracket so we can have something to focus our energy on.''

The Golden Hurricane (17-16) went just 8-8 in Conference USA play during the regular season, but reeled off four wins in four days in the league tournament to claim the conference's automatic bid.

Senior guard Taleya Mayberry, who averages a team-high 18.7 points, stepped up her game even more in the C-USA tourney. Mayberry averaged 25.0 points and shot 53.3 percent to lift Tulsa to its first NCAA appearance since 2006.

The Golden Hurricane upset fifth-seeded North Carolina State as a No. 12 seed in that tournament, but an entirely different challenge awaits Sunday.

Stanford just won its seventh straight Pac-12 tournament title and leads the nation in opponents' field-goal percentage (31.5) and 3-point percentage (23.5).

Despite all their success in the first four rounds of the tournament since 2008, the Cardinal are looking for their first national title since 1992. They lost to Baylor in last year's national semifinal and last reached the championship game in 2010.

Stanford has been eliminated by the eventual national champion in each of the past five years.

Ogwumike will be looking for some redemption after being held to a career-low three points in Stanford's 51-49 victory over the Bruins in the conference championship.

"I expected three people on me every game,'' Ogwumike said. "I like being inside a lot. I always expect the best of the defense. The difference with UCLA was they were committed to it for 40 minutes. I'm excited to be back at Maples; it's a special place.''

The Cardinal will be without starting guard Toni Kokenis for the rest of the year with an undisclosed illness. She has missed 11 straight games and 12 overall.