Second-seeded Stanford opens the NCAA tournament Saturday against a school it has never played -- South Dakota of the Summit League.
The teams will meet in the first round at 3:30 p.m., Pacific, in Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. No. 7 Iowa State plays host to No. 10 Florida State in the subregional's first game. The winners advance to the second round Monday in Hilton Coliseum.
South Dakota (19-13) won the league tournament to qualify for its first NCAA appearance after an average season.
"We started our conference season with four straight losses," Coyotes coach Amy Williams said Friday. "That's the time when teams start to crumble and teams can go downhill fast."
South Dakota overcame some injuries while other players filled the vacuum.
"And it all just came together for us at the right time," Williams said.
South Dakota is led by Australian guard Nicole Seekamp, who averages 15.3 points per game and 4.0 rebounds. Junior guard Raeshel Contreras of Alameda-Encinal High averages 13.1 points per game.
The Coyotes' campus in Vermillion, S.D., is only 3 ½ hours from Ames, which almost makes it a home game. But South Dakota has a tall task against Stanford (29-3), which in November routed South Dakota State, the Summit League regular-season champion.
Only one Coyotes starter is taller than 6 feet -- 6-1 junior Lisa Loffler. Stanford is led by 6-4 All-American Chiney Ogwumike, and starts 6-3 Mikaela Ruef and 6-3 Bonnie Samuelson. The Cardinal also have 6-3 freshmen forwards Kailee Johnson and Erica McCall waiting on the bench.
South Dakota's only senior starter, Polly Harrington, didn't sound intimidated by Stanford's height.
"When the time comes we will be prepared for it," the 5-11 post player said Friday.
The Coyotes' object is to "try to contain Chiney," Harrington added. "It is going to be a task for our whole team."
Stanford forward Taylor Greenfield -- another 6-3 reserve -- expects South Dakota to make it tough.
"They're going to come out extremely aggressive, which we're totally used to," said Greenfield, who grew up in nearby Huxley, Iowa. "I'm sure they are going to be extremely ready for us."
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.