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Stanford women face tough Final Four road

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Nnemkadi Ogwumike and the Stanford women hope to continue their dominating legacy this season. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • US Presswire file photo
  • Nnemkadi Ogwumike and the Stanford women hope to continue their dominating legacy this season.

Finals don’t officially start at Stanford until next week, but a big test for the women’s basketball team kicks off in Norfolk, Va., this weekend.

After winning its sixth straight Pac-12 Conference tournament title in Los Angeles last week, the Cardinal (31-1) will launch its quest for a third national championship against Hampton (26-4) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“This is also our basketball final if you think about it,” sophomore Chiney Ogwumike said. “So we’ll make sure we’re prepared.”

Stanford earned the top seed in the tournament’s Fresno Region by putting together one of the most impressive résumés in the program’s history.

In addition to the individual accolades, the Cardinal have strung together the longest conference-winning streak in the history of women’s college basketball (78 games and counting), while accumulating a team record 28 straight wins. The team’s only loss was back in November at UConn, arguably the toughest place to pick up a win in the country.

“We’ve accomplished so many different things this year — I didn’t even know the 28-win streak was even a school record,” said Nnemkadi Ogwumike, adding: “So the legacy’s kind of still building every day.”

If Stanford gets by Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champion Hampton, they’ll face the winner of No. 8 seed West Virginia (23-9) vs. No. 9 seed Texas (18-13) Monday at 4 p.m. The Cardinal won its first regular-season game against the Longhorns, in Austin, Texas, 72-59 on Nov. 11. While the team hasn’t played West Virginia, coach Tara VanDerveer said the Mountaineers’ style is similar to what they’ve confronted against Cal.

“We will be challenged,” she said.

Two wins in Norfolk would send Stanford onto Fresno next weekend, where they could encounter a slew of battle-tested teams, like No. 4 seed Purdue (24-8), No. 3 seed St. John’s (22-9) and No. 2 seed Duke (24-5), as they attempt to earn a fifth straight trip to the Final Four.

GAME DAY

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Hampton

WHEN: Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va.
RECORDS: Stanford (31-1), Hampton (26-4)
TV: ESPN2