Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stanford Survives USC

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season long. First they beat Baylor (Baylor!) and a ranked Tennessee team on their home court. Then lose (And lose big time) to UConn on their home court. They bounce back to beat Cal at their place to keep them from throwing victory balls to their home crowd, then lose to Cal less then a week later at Maples, depriving C and R a chance to catch a Stanford victory ball.

Then they beat UCLA and look like the Stanford of Old, and then they do a Jekyll and Hyde in ONE GAME. Stanford goes up by 19 points in the second against USC even though they were shooting poorly in the first half, then let USC come back to within 5…all in the same game. Oh, wait, we said that.

To start, it was good to see Stanford guard Amber Orrrrange step up where she left off against UCLA. She drove to the basket and most of the time she made it all the way for some great layups against a taller USC team. She would score 13 points for the game.

In fact, USC was playing Stanford pretty much straight up one on one and when you do that to All-America Chiney Ogwumike, what did we say last time? She makes you pay. Chiney’s Hyde (bad) was shooting only six shoots and only making two, plus two free throws in the first half. Her Dr Jekyll (good) was scoring 26 points in the second half for a combined 29 points and 16 rebounds for the game, and a second straight double-double.
Chiney Ogwumike
Stanford's Sara James drives to the basket. George Nikitin - AP Photo
Sara James also took over where she left off. She got her second straight start and hustled hard. She had a great stretch in the first half where she ran ahead on two fast breaks and scored. The first was a thing of beauty, though. It started when Chiney blocked a pass, grabbed it and ran to the basket. Her way was impeded by a USC player but she spied Sara streaking by on her right she threw down a long bounce pass, leading Sara to the basket. Sara caught it in stride and finished at the basket. A great play by all. Sara would end up with 13 points as well, and made a three. 

Although Sara went to the bench a few times, but she definitely got more minutes than against UCLA. This time we noticed she was matched up with a taller player on defense, and since Stanford was playing man to man all night, she had to come out of the game. C and R realize that happened against UCLA and even though she provided a spark, she came out because of that mismatch. She played many minutes in the second half and she played defender on a similar-sized player.

When Stanford got up by 19 with 12 minutes left in the second half  (they were up 33-20 at the half, thanks to Joslyn Tinkle’s three in the final seconds), it was due to great ball movement to free up players for some key threes. And thanks to Tinkle for her two three pointers in a row in the second. Tinkle scored 15, and was 3-3 from the three-point line. It was good to see her points come earlier than last time when they were needed more. She also was 3-3 from three-point land last game, so she is technically 6-6 between the two games. Wonder what the record is for consecutive threes in multiple games? When USC got within five points with 2:42 left, it was because Stanford went into that slow rotation offense and USC pressed started to work again.

It was weird, and again, Jekyll and Hyde with this press. USC rolls out the press, Chiney the post player is dribbling the ball up court for Stanford (bad), and they are breaking it and getting baskets fairly regularly off of it (Good). But USC kept with it and then they started to get some turnovers (Stanford had 14 for the game-bad). And then Stanford’s vaulted man-to man defense broke down and they let USC’s #14 drive right to the hoop...four times. Number 14 is Ariya Crook and she single handedly willed USC back into this game, and ended up with 18 points. And after watching her drive to the basket two or three times, why didn’t anyone wearing a Stanford jersey stop ball? Chiney got some key baskets when things got close (good), and Stanford prevailed 75-66 (double good).

So for those of you keeping score at home, that was four, count ‘em four Stanford players in double figures. And all four are starters (good). However no bench players scored any points (bad). Stanford is now in a two-way tie with Cal for the PAC-12 lead (good) (but they should not have lost to Cal (bad))!!

Next up, Utah and Colorado come to town this weekend. Lets hope for some good wins.

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