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TULSA PREPARES FOR CLASH WITH NO. 1 SEED STANFORD

Tiffani Couisnard and Taleya Mayberry take questions from the media on Saturday.
Tiffani Couisnard and Taleya Mayberry take questions from the media on Saturday.
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March 23, 2013

Palo Alto, Calif. -

The Tulsa women's basketball team practiced for 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon at the Maples Pavilion, going through final preparations for the match-up against No.1 seed Stanford. The game will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 2:20 pm (PT)/4:40 pm (CT).

Tulsa, the 16th seed, will have its hands full with nation's 4th-ranked Stanford Cardinal as the host team comes into the game with an overall 31-2 record. Their only losses have come at home against No. 2-ranked Connecticut and No. 7-ranked California, but the Cardinal has won its last 17 games.

After having started the year 0-5, Tulsa enters the contest one game over .500 with an overall 17-16 record.

Could anyone have imagined that a team starting with five straight losses would be sitting in the NCAA Tournament five months later? Using an old coaching adage `you want to be playing your best at the end of the season', that's where the Tulsa Golden Hurricane team finds itself. Tulsa has won 10 of the last 13 games, including a four-game run in the Conference USA Championship, and an overall five-game winning streak.

Stanford, though, poses a mighty challenge for the Hurricane. Stanford's 6'4" junior Chiney Ogwumike, a consensus National Player of the Year candidate, leads the Cardinal attack with averages of 22.1 points and 13.1 rebounds. The Cardinal averages 70.7 points and 42.6 rebounds per game.

"While we respect the tradition of Stanford's program and while we respect everything they've done in the past and even everything they've done this year, it comes down to just playing one 40-minute basketball game, and if we didn't believe that the unexpected could happen, well, we wouldn't have made the trip," said Tulsa Head Coach Matilda Mossman. "We know we're going to have to play really well, and we're going to have some bad moments from them. We're not going to sit here and say we can line up toe-to-toe with them and be as equal to them in every position, we're not, but it's one basketball game. We're coming off of 5-game winning streak, so our mentality is pretty good right now. We have to prepare for that first 20 minutes and prepare to make adjustments, and then prepare for that second 20 minutes."

Upsets are rare between a #1 and #16-seeded team in NCAA college basketball tournaments, but as the Georgetown men, a No. 2-seed, found out on Friday losing to #15-seed Florida Gulf Coast, it can happen. On the women's side, a #16 seed has actually upset a #1 seed and it happened right here at the Maples Center. On March 14, 1998, Harvard handed the host and No. 1-seed Cardinal a 71-67 loss.

Legendary coach Tara VanDerveer has her team playing at a high level at this time of year as well, and see's Tulsa as a good match-up for her team.

"Tulsa is playing well and they're going to be a great match-up for us. I'm very impressed with the coaching job Coach Mossman has done. She's coached for a long time, they're a very well-coached team," said VanDerveer. "They press, they run - I think they really didn't finish as high maybe in their regular season, but they are a hot team winning 10 of their last 13 games."

"I think for people that don't know anything about Tulsa, they should come to the game and watch. They're going to see a great player in Taleya Mayberry, who is the daughter of former NBA player Lee Mayberry. Taleya is a really, really outstanding player -- very quick and she's their scoring leader," added VanDerveer

Following the 90-minute practice, the team returned to the hotel and then traveled one hour to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner and a site tour of the Golden Gate Bridge.

NOTES . . .
• Dave Pasch and Mary Murphy will be calling the action for ESPN2.
• Tulsa's World's John Hoover made the move 20 minutes down Highway 101 from covering the OSU men in the NCAA's second/third round in San Jose to covering the TU women in Palo Alto.
• Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has compiled an 892-202 collegiate head coaching record in 34 years . . . she has been at Stanford for the last 28 seasons, but took off the 1995-96 season while coaching the US National/Olympic Team.
• This is only the second time Stanford has played a current Conference USA member . . . the previous game came against UTEP in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
• Stanford has held its last 51 opponents to under 70 points.