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STANFORD, Calif. -- There should be plenty of time to turn the spotlight on Stanford in this NCAA tournament. Perhaps as soon as Monday night when the top-seeded Cardinal face No. 9 seed St. John's in the second round at Maples Pavilion, trying to help their stellar senior class finish up with a 63-0 record on their home floor.
Those Stanford seniors would be the first class in the history of the storied Cardinal program to do it. They would be the first group since Chamique Holdsclaw did it with Tennessee, with Connecticut's seniors hot on their heels to accomplish the same feat Tuesday night.
But let's say for now that this wasn't about Stanford winning yet another first-round tournament game in what most people expect will be a long, fruitful postseason run.
Let's say this day was about UC Davis, the No. 16 seed.
The Aggies came to Maples Pavilion unintimidated by the Cardinal's dominance at home. UC Davis has played at Maples twice in the past three years. The Aggies have seen it first hand.
And they probably didn't even really think they could do anything about it. But that didn't mean there wasn't plenty to play for.
UC Davis became a full-fledged Division I program in 2007-08. Almost as quickly they became a legitimate Division I program.
The Aggies had two second-places finishes in the Big West Conference tournament in the past two years. Last weekend was the breakthrough, a win over regular-season champ Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a ticket to the Big Dance.
The Aggies' big moment, however, was even bigger than that. Coach Sandy Simpson, who coached Davis for the past 14 years as the head coach, is retiring.
Simpson is a Davis lifer. He played there in college, began his coaching career as a women's basketball assistant in 1977. He took over the program in 1996.
And this likely would be his last game. Get to the tournament for the first time, say farewell to your coach, face Stanford.
A big moment indeed.
And for a while, for as long as they could, the Aggies rose to it. Their distinctive zone defense cause problems for Stanford's ball-handlers. Davis' shooters hit four 3 -pointers in the first eight minutes. The game was tied 11-11 less than five minutes in. It was 18-16 with 12:52 left in the half.
And then Stanford settled, the Cardinal began hitting their own shots from the outside -- a season-high 13 for the game as it turned out -- and took control.
It was a 42-30 margin at halftime. Less than four minutes into the half it was an 18-point game. A little more than three minutes later, the Cardinal led by 23.
There would be no fairy-tale ending. Except that this was the fairy-tale ending.
As Simpson took seniors Paige Mintun and Heidi Heintz out of the game, he hugged them both and whispered in their ears as they cried. The band, which had been chanting Simpson's name before tip-off, began chanting "Thank Yous" to the players and then, "They'll be back."
At that point, Simpson admitted after the game his mind "started to wander."
At the final buzzer, Simpson had tears in his eyes as he walked across the court, applauded the several hundred fans that made the trip and took one last look up into the stands before he walked into the locker room.
The final score was 86-59. But if Stanford was the winner, the Aggies were the story for the night.
Simpson got emotional again in the postgame media session. He's leaving his job at the age of 52 because it has become "all-consuming" and because he has kids at home that he'd like to spend some more time with.
But walking away didn't look easy, not when he walked off the court and not when he talked about how he felt now that it was done.
"This does feel like I'm going out on top," Simpson said. "I'm always going to remember that my last game was at Stanford."
Ah Stanford, we'll get to them later. This is the Aggies' night.