Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stanford Wins in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Well, now that the dust has cleared and the letter written about disrespect has been read (Hampton), they actually played the games starting Saturday. And Stanford, as befitting a number 1 seed, beat Hampton University 73-51.

Ya know, it’s tough for a #16 seed. Here you go and win your conference, scrape and scrap and suffer and sweat all season long, and your reward is to play a bigger, better team and lose and go home, which was about 10 miles from the gym in this case. So unfair to Stanford if you want to talk about disrespect, Hampton!

Anyhoo, the game started out close. Here Hampton got their hopes up by hitting a three-pointer to make it a one point game at the 7-minute mark in the first. And then, Nneka Ogwumike runs you over. She scored 28 points, 22 in the first, and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double, to overwhelm Hampton (and directed the mop up crew to clean the floor to boot).

Stanford fans have seen this phenomenon all season long. Sometimes it’s the one-two punch of Nneka and her sister Chiney. But not this time. Stanford had some drama of its own.

Early in the first half around the 17 minute-mark, Chiney knifed in for an offensive rebound. To C and R, it looked like the Hampton player fell on Chiney’s ankle, who then toppled into a second Hampton player. Chiney got called for the foul.  And stayed down. When she did get up, she was limping.

Stanford fans everywhere stopped breathing. She subbed out and went to the locker room. Social media was all abuzz, bruised knee was the official reading. Dad followed her into the locker room, so it seemed more serious then a bruised knee.

She came back out, rested, sat next to the coaches (See, good as new, put me in, coach), went back in, got burned on defense, came out a minute later, went back to locker room, came back out and rode a stationary bike for the rest of the half. Watched her sister Nneka hit a three-point shot with seconds left to lift Stanford to a 42-27 lead, and went into the locker room to listen to genius coach Tara VanDerveer give her famous half-time adjustments.. Then Chiney played the second half and ended up with 9 points. Whew, had us dizzy with worry and relief.

So, while Chiney’s drama was all going on and Hampton got within one at the 7-minute mark, Nneka took over. Stanford went on a 20-6 run since the one point difference, scoring 14 straight unanswered points after Hampton’s three. Hampton just had the 6 points after the 7-minute mark, and that was with the Pac-12 defensive player of the year riding a bike.

And that three-pointer with 7 seconds left, it was as if Nneka was saying, here, take that into the locker room and chew on that. And, as most teams have found out, there is no answer to Nneka. Stanford went on to win 73-51.

Jos Tinkle scored 16, adding points that Chiney usually provides. It helped that she hit 4 three-pointers. In fact, she was 4-4 from behind the line, we think a career high for made three pointers for her. That certainly helps open things up for Nneka to work inside. Guards Toni Kokenis also added 9 and Amber Orrrrange added 7, with a career high 11 assists. Well, when you are throwing it to Nneka, who can score at will, it helps a lot.

Next up is a very tough defensive team in West Virginia. They are long and tall. Hope Chiney’s knee is up for the challenge. Should be on ESPN2 at 4 PM Stanford time.

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