Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stanford Out-Battles Utah

One streak was lost and another extended, and all-and-all, it’s the W that counts. Stanford Women’s Basketball extended their 80 game streak of consecutive Pac-10 slash 12 conference wins by beating Utah 70-56. Oh, the streak that ended? Chiney Ogwumike’s double-double streak stopped at 10.

So, the game was much closer than the score indicated. The fact Chiney only got six rebounds for the game (just one in the first half) should tell you something. Utah won the rebounding battle 35-33, something that has not happened since the season's first game vs. Fresno State. Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said Utah did “a great job being fundamentally sound ” and “boxing out”, something Stanford is usually praised for.

Curiously, there was no foul call on Utah in the first half, and when's the last time you ever saw that in a game? Apparently, Stanford’s reffing buddy Melissa Barlow was the one who swallowed her whistle, although she did “T” up Utah’s coach near the end of the game.

Sara James Saves the Day vs Utah
Sara James Saves the Day vs Utah (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
However, the bigger story line is, who stepped up for Stanford besides All-American Chiney and her 20 points? Bench player Sara James. Sara’s career high 18 points included three 3-pointers. And more importantly, whenever Utah had a big basket to cut into the lead, Sara answered with one of her own. Starting Stanford guard Toni Kokenis was held out of this game because of an illness, and although Taylor Greenfield started in her place (and C and R are glad to see the re-emergence of Taylor in the lineup), Sara came off the bench in her spot and made the most of it. 

So Sara had 18 points and Chiney had 20. You can couple that with Sara’s four assists and Chiney’s five, and it is good to see players, especially Chiney get others involved in the offense. This assisting was totally lacking against UConn. Amber Orrrrange poured in 16 points, with a lot of drives to the basket and Joslyn Tinkle contributes again with 12. Four Stanford players, three of them starters, in double figures?! That is music to Tara VanDerveer’s ears.

Next game, and the next game after that? Cal. Yes, as in Battle of the Bay squared. The quirk of the Pac-12 schedule has them playing away and home (or home and away, if your from Cal, and we hope you are not), starting Tuesday and ending Sunday. C and R hope you make it to at least one of them!

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