So this game was different. It was different because for the first time ever R doubted Stanford could win. Granted, her reasoning was sound. Arguably the best player in the PAC-10, Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike, was in a walking boot because of a sprained ankle and sidelined for the game, and Stanford has come out flat in the first half in their last five or so PAC-10 games, AND Stanford was set to play number 8th ranked UCLA on their home floor, who was out for revenge after their 26 point loss to Stanford the first go-around. C is usually the pessimistic of the bunch. She thinks Stanford will lose every game. Even if Stanford was matched up against the 4th grade girl scout troop daises, or pirates with wooden legs and eye patches on both eyes and stricken with scurvy or whatnot, she will lash her teeth and lament their lack of an inside game. But R has never, ever doubted Stanford, no matter who the opponent. Even when Stanford was playing UConn and their streak, R pronounced they would win. And win by 10 even. (C had to buy the dinner that night, but it was worth it!)
And UCLA almost, almost made R’s prediction come true. UCLA kept Stanford from finding the inside player for the awhile but Stanford relied on the three point game. When Stanford did work it inside in the first half, they missed some easy jumpers. (Nerves?). Then Stanford relied on their fast break. Stanford? A fast break team? What ever it takes, baby. Of course it helped to have speedster Toni Kokenis on the floor, who contributed 13 points to the cause. And Stanford let Jasmine Dixon lose to score and grab rebounds too much in the first half.
The score was tied at 28 at the half, and C and R were hoping Stanford’s second half magic would come to life. UCLA shot a lot, 61 times, but they missed a whole lot of them, only making 19 of them for a 30 percentage shooting average for the game. UCLA also went 0-5 for three pointers in the second half. At times it seemed like UCLA was shooting themselves in the foot.
At the start of the second, Stanford slowly chiseled away at UCLA, led by the veteran play of Kayla Pedersen (loved the behind the basket reverse lay up) and when Jeanette Pohlen hit that three around the 4 minute mark to go up 12, the game was over. Final score was 67-53 Stanford.
Also at half time, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer asked Nneka’s younger sister, Chiney, to be the Nneka of the game. Chiney responded by scoring 13 of her 18 points after the break. She also grabbed an eye-popping 15 rebounds and made 10 of 12 from the line. Wonder if she will get PAC-10 player of the week?
It was nice to see 6,725 people make it out to Pauley Pavilion to see the game. It was the biggest turn out for a women’s game down there in 13 years. C and R watched it at their friends C and P’s house, who have an amazing big-screen TV and who fed us like queens. We apologize to their Mama for our cheering and obnoxious screaming.
It will be nice to see them back in action, live and in person. Make sure you check the time of the Oregon game; it has been moved to a 2 PM start time.