Saturday, January 19, 2013

Unbeaten UCLA Beaten by Stanford

Just a quick note on the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team beating UCLA, and avoiding a third loss at home, something that hasn’t happen in, like, forever.

Stanford came out of the gates in a different offensive set, much to everyone’s relief. Although the old slow radiation reared it’s ugly head a few times, complete with the post player gesturing to somebody, anybody to move.

What was different was the guards driving in and attacking the basket. Stanford guard Amber Orrrrange drove and when she couldn’t get to the basket, she hit some pull up jumpers, to the tune of 15 points. Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike scored 25 points and got 13 rebounds, getting her double-double groove back on track. For most of the game, UCLA played straight up man-to-man, 1V1 defense, with no help. And if you let Chiney have the ball in the low post and dribble towards the basket with no help, she will make you pay every time. And she did. Didn’t UCLA watch the tapes of the UConn and Cal games?

Another difference was Stanford was more aggressive and played smart double teams when needed. Sara James got the start and her energy was definitely, definitely inspiring, diving for loose balls and trying to box out a much bigger player she was assigned to guard. She would contribute seven points. C and R thought she did well, so it was puzzling when Stanford head coach took Sara out for long stretches.
Sara James
Stanford guard Sara James (21) controls a loose ball in the first half of the UCLA game. Photo: Lance Iversen, The Chronicle
Stanford’s Toni Kokenis, who has missed games with “an illness” also started and played well. It was a little disconcerting to see her emerge from the locker room with a knee brace on, though. She already has a taped up thumb. Then she knocked not one, but two people down on one play en route to the basket. She selflessly dished off to someone else for the score, but she should have kept going, maybe she would have taken out a third!

The lead kept see-sawing back and forth in the first half, and then halfway through, Stanford opened up a Stanford-like 10-0 run, and they never looked back. The half time score was 36-24. UCLA went to a full court press in the last 5 minutes of the second half, so maybe they DID see the UConn tapes. Stanford had guard Amber Orrrrange on the bench with four fouls, so they relied on Chiney to take the ball up. Isn’t Chiney a tall post player? You mean there is no one else Stanford trusts bringing up the ball when breaking a press? At least when she passed over the half court line, Stanford attacked the basket to get easy buckets in transition (unlike the UConn game).

The final score was 75-49. Chiney scored 26, Amber had 15, but no one else was stepping up big time. Senior Joslyn Tinkle had 7 points and in garbage time popped a three to get in double digits, ulp, then got another three... and another (Hello, UCLA). She would end up with 16 points for the game, making 4-4 three-point tries, but if not for her last second barrage, only two Stanford players would be in double figures and they need a few more, including Tinkle to step up early and often with points and boards (No one else got in double figures rebounds except Chiney). Side note, Stanford did go 6-7 on threes for the night.

UCLA’s red-shirt senior Jasmine Dixon, who has been a Stanford killer in past years, had a heavy brace on her knee and was not her usual self. She ruptured her Achilles tendon last season. Always sad to see a player suffer a devastating injury.

All in all, a very satisfying win against a very tall, big and physical UCLA team (with some bad officiating). Technically, there should be a four-way tie for the Pac-12 lead, with Stanny, Cal, UCLA, and USC, but Stanford has one more regular season than everyone else, so they are atop of the leader board. Sunday’s game between those four mentioned teams will clarify things greatly.

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