AMES, Iowa. -- After watching 10th-seeded Florida State open the game by making four straight shots to take an 11-4 lead, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer wanted to change defensive schemes.
Her assistant coaches were advising her to stay with more of a man-to-man approach, but VanDerveer had a feeling that switching to a little-used zone defense might work.
Did it ever.
The switch helped stifle the Seminoles offense and propelled second-seeded Stanford to a 63-44 win, sending the Cardinal back to the Sweet 16 for the seventh straight season.
"Against all the other coaches on the bench, I went out on my own," VanDerveer said. "We had played a minimal amount of zone (this season)."
Senior Chiney Ogwumike had 21 points and nine rebounds and freshman Lili Thompson added 14 points to lead Stanford (31-3). The Cardinal now returns home to Maples Pavilion to host its region's next round against the winner of Tuesday's game between No. 3 seed Penn State and No. 11 seed Florida.
But to survive the tournament's first weekend and return home unscathed, the Cardinal first had to get past Florida State, the school that prevented Stanford from reaching the Sweet 16 in 2007.
After the quick start by the Seminoles, Stanford's zone defense held Florida State to just one field goal over the final 121/2 minutes of the first half. The stingy streak fueled a 28-5 run that allowed the Cardinal to go into the break leading by 16 points.
"It was definitely the turning point for our team," VanDerveer said. "It helped us get some stops, stop the bleeding, come back and score a couple times, and then it just gained momentum. Our team was like, 'Yeah, this is really working.' "
The Seminoles finished the first half just 7 of 28 (25 percent) from the field and finished 18 of 58 (31 percent) overall on the night. The shooting percentage was a season low for Florida State, as were the 44 total points and 16 first-half points.
Seminoles star Natasha Howard was scoreless in the first half and finished with nine points.
"Once we changed to our zone, it felt like the game changed," Thompson said. "We were communicating well in it. We knew when someone was running the baseline or when there were spots we needed to cover. We were working a well-oiled unit."
Ogwumike, who became the Pac-12's all-time leading scorer in Saturday's first-round win over South Dakota, was held in check in the early going. But after being held scoreless for over six minutes to start the game, Ogwumike ignited the Cardinal offense by scoring six straight points -- and 10 overall -- during a decisive 16-0 run. Ogwumike's 3-point play gave the Cardinal a 17-14 lead, and it never trailed again.
VanDerveer said Saturday that returning home with a pair of wins in Ames and earning the chance to play in front of its home crowd was her team's sole focus. Now that they've done that, VanDerveer hopes the home-court advantage can help the Cardinal get a step closer to reaching the Final Four for the sixth time in seven years.
"For us, it's a great win," VanDerveer said. "We're very excited, and we're really looking forward to playing at Stanford in the Stanford regional."
Florida or Penn State at Stanford (31-3), TBD