Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stanford Loses to Georgia 59-61

It was a game of runs. A game of one team scoring 7 or 8 points and the other team scoring 0. And it was a game that saw the Stanford Women’s Basketball team end their run of five straight Final Fours, trying to make a historic 6th.
Taylor Greenfield Injurys Hand
Taylor Greenfield leaves the court with a hand injury (AP Photo/Jed Conklin)
Stanford opened their Sweet Sixteen game against Georgia with a 9-0 run, and all was right with the world. Then a 10-4 run by Georgia. Granted, it didn’t help matters that role player Taylor Greenfield left the game early when a kicked ball jammed her left thumb. (She looked like she was in a lot of pain, hope it is not broken). And after that Joslyn Tinkle went to the bench with two fouls early on in the first. Stanford is not known for their deep bench. But Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike saved the day again, at least for the first half. 

Chiney couldn’t be stopped in the first, she would have 18, most in the second part of the first half with Tinkle and Greenfield out. Georgia’s scorer Hassell went to the bench with an early foul, then comes back help Georgia on a run.  Georgia’s Griffin who made five three pointers all year hits two of them. There was no flow for either team. The half ended with Stanford holding a comfortable 7-point lead, 34-25.

Chiney Ogwumike scored
Chiney Ogwumike scored 26 and 12 boards (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Chiney got her usual double-double (26 points and 12 rebounds) for the game and when Georgia would try to go ahead (five lead changes) Amber Orrrrange would calmly hit a shot to keep Stanford right in it. She scored 17 for the game. Except for the final quarter. That final quarter everyone missed. Amber, Chiney…or wait no one else from Stanford was scoring. The closest was Mikaela Ruef, who had six points but missed crucial free throws at the end. 

And that in a nutshell is what has hurt Stanford all season, no one dependable in scoring besides Chiney. Chiney is amazing and Amber has stepped up but nobody else. When Chiney was double and tripled teamed, especially in the second half, no one from Stanford puts themselves in position for her to kick it out to them. And Georgia had players that stepped, up notable Hassell who scored six points in the final three minutes.

The final 1:20 seconds also was uncharacteristic for Stanford, in that they did not play smart. The score was tied and Chiney could not connect with Tinkle under the basket, a rare pass out of bounds. Then Georgia hit the backboard and the shot clock mistakenly reset, so Amber fouled to stop the clock (Okay, that part was smart). After the Georgia player made both shots to take a four point lead with 59 seconds left, Amber took forever to bring the ball up court, dribbling away from the basket, so much that Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer called a time out.

Then when Stanford inbounded, the ball with 23 seconds left Amber again dribbled away from the basket. The ball finally made its way to Tinkle’s hand, who made her first three of the game. However, there was just five seconds left on the game clock and Stanford was still down by one, 59-60. Georgia threw a leading football pass from their own end zone and a Georgia player ran under it. She was finally tackled by Stanford’s Sara James with .8 seconds left. (And all the games in the tourney have been football-like in the lack of non-calls).

The Georgia player missed the first shot but hit the second, when she should have done it the other way around. The made basket gave Stanford time to inbound and shoot. Ruef threw a baseball pass three quarters the length of the court but no one was there to corral it and Georgia was the one hugging themselves in victory, wining 59-61.

Well, hats off to Stanford for a great season. Tara VanDerveer made the most with what she had. The overachievers were 33-3, knocked off Baylor and beat Tennessee. With new talent coming in and redshirt players coming back, already looking forward to next year.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen

Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen in Spokane! Check out the match-up between Stanford and Georgia, from Stanford Official Site. 
Can’t get to Spokane? The game will be on ESPN2 at 6:04 PM Stanford Time. Not 6 PM mind you, 6:04. After Stanford wins, stick around for the Cal game. Let’s Go Stanford!
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stanford Mashes Michigan, Advances to Sweet 16

When The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team played Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA tournament, it was a tale of two halves. In that game, Stanford was tied at 24 at the half against a number 16 seed, and then Chiney Ogwumike and Amber Orrrrange poured it on to win by 16. Tonight in round two against number eight seed Michigan, Stanford was a whole different team.

No one does scouting reports like Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer, and this one said Michigan likes to hit threes. And little known to any one else, Stanford likes to take your game plan and hand it right back to you. Time and time again C and R will read a team likes to fast break and push the tempo, and then Stanford is the one that is fast breaking Laker’s style. So what does Stanford do tonight? You guessed it, they hit the threes. And shut down Michigan’s three point shooters in the process. Maybe because the team has to replicate the other teams game plan so much in practice, they subconsciously end up playing it?

Whatever, the reason, it worked. Stanford looked like a team that plays together instead of going through one person. Granted, that one person is All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike, and she has carried this team so far all season, and carried them well. Tonight, she made a conscious effort to pass up her drives to the basket to find others. And it worked, mostly The game tone was set early when Chiney took a rebound out of the air and volleyball spiked it to a wide open Joslyn Tinkle under the basket for the easy lay up.
Chiney and Tinkle
Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike, right, and Joslyn Tinkle embrace as coach Tara VanDerveer looks on (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Speaking of Tinkle, the Stanford senior was playing her last home game on Maples and she too made a conscious effort to get after it. She noticeably hustled, and shot early and often. She had eight points in the first five minutes. She made five out of five three-point attempts, a career high, and scored 21 points for the night. She has not looked so good in about half a season. Mostly due to Tinkle, Stanford was up 21-7 with twelve minutes left to play in the first and leading 41-16 at the half. It was total domination.

Stanford made a season best 12 three pointers. Guard Amber Orrrrange , who is really mastering the pull up jumper, hit a three when left open. She would have 11 points for the night. Starter Sara James made three of five from three-point land and bench player Bonnie Samuelson also made three from behind the line. Stanford would beat Michigan 73-40. Now that is some good ball.

Speaking of Sara James, she contributed nine points while limiting Michigan’s best three point shooter Kate Thompson, who air balled her first three and went 1-11 from the field for seven total points. Usually you get great defense from Sara, or maybe a double-digit game, but tonight she gave Stanford both. Well, nine total points is close enough. If Stanford can get everyone’s best defensive efforts and get four players in or near double figures, like tonight, then they have a legitimate shot at making a record sixth final four.

And speaking of Stanford’s defense, they shut down Michigan, threes or not. Michigan shot just 29% from the field and 18% from the three point line (so much for that three point shooting prowess). And Stanford played man-to-man defense all night, no zone or double-teaming, not even on Michigan’s Thompson. Sara James was left alone all night to shut her down, and she sure did. Sara’s coach and team trusted her and she delivered. Compare that to Michigan, and other teams that have to double and even triple team Chiney Ogwumike and she still scores.

Speaking of Chiney, she got a double-double, 12 points and 15 boards, and it is cool she got more boards than points. As we mentioned somewhere in this story, Chiney was consciously looking for her teammates. But at times it was detrimental to the flow of the game. The passes were telegraphed and picked off, and the player was not that open. Chiney usually takes one or two defends on near the basket and scores. She needs to find a better balance of passing to open players when doubled, and players need to move into position and be open when she is doubled. Why is Stanford figuring this out now in the tourney instead of throughout the year?

Nice moment after the game when Senior Tinkle was grabbed for the post-game interview. The Stanford team always huddles at midcourt then waves to their fans and heads to the locker room. As Tinkle was talking (and we think shedding a tear or two over her last game here), the team ran off the court. When the interview concluded, the team ran back on to the court and right at Jos. Chiney, her self-proclaimed twin, was the first to meet her and gave her a big ol’ embrace. Then the team, now complete, took a final lap around Maples, with Jos in the center, as it fittingly should be.
Next round is against Georgia, and Stanford has a couple of days to prepare. And no one prepares like a Tara VanDerveer. Best of luck in Spokane.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stanford, Shakes off Bad First Half, Takes Down Tulsa

It was a Tale of Two Halves. The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team opened the first round of the NCAA tournament (otherwise known as “The Big Dance,” or in Stanford’s case, “Quest for Six” – Final Fours, that is) against Tulsa and almost had their run end before they started.
Amber Orrange hits game winning shot
Chiney Ogwumike knows she needs to get her teammates invloved if Stanford is to advance (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Tulsa gave all the right pre-game quotes, “we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we could win,” just like any other 16 seed, then visited the Golden Gate Bridge. And then the 16th seed is supposed to get crushed and all they get is a lousy T-Shirt they bought from the illegal vendors at the parking lot to the Golden Gate Bridge. Except this time the number 16 seed didn’t realize it was supposed to be smoke and mirrors and they actually believed the hype. So much so they came out swinging, and made four steals in three minutes and went up by six points in the first five minutes.

The Tulsa coaching staff must have been figuring the refs were not going to call as much in these games and so were very, very physical. They pushed around Bonnie Samuelson as if she were a paperweight and were holding, holding holding Stanford’s best player Chiney Ogwumike to try and stop her scoring.

But you can’t keep an Ogwumike down. Chiney scored two quick baskets to open the game and to say to herself and the basketball world at large that see, I just scored four points, one more than the three points I scored in the whole game in the Pac-12 finals against UCLA.

Tulsa drove a fast-paced game and attacked the basket early on. They also were very good shooters and since they were undersized, would pull up for jumpers. Most of them went in. Chieny could score almost at will to keep Stanford in it, and bench player Taylor Greenfield added six first-half points to help out. But not much else happened scoring-wise in the first for the Cardinal, and if they want to advance even more in the Big Dance, they will have to have others step up.

Tulsa couldn’t keep such a frenetic pace and was tiring in the first half when Stanford took a small lead. But with three and a half minutes left in the first, Chiney Ogwumike got her second foul and joined Joslyn Tinkle on the bench. If you saw the UCLA game, then you know Stanford does not do well with Chiney on the bench. Stanford’s Amber Orrrrange scored the last four points of the half for Stanford and the game was tied at 24 going into the locker room.

The  Twiterverse went a little gleeful at Stanford’s struggles, and of course brought up the only number one seed, men’s or women’s to be beat by a number 16 seed was of course the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team on their home court. They were hoping history would repeat itself. But although those that don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer lived through it and has not forgotten. And she is the mastermind of half time adjustments.

Tara VanDerveer at the half told her team that their season could be over in 20 minutes. Message received. Both teams came out for the second and Tulsa took a one-point lead at the 18 minute mark. Then Chiney, with a little help from Amber Orrrrange, got a 12 point Stanford lead just like that and now the number one seed started to look like their ranking. Also, Tulsa, who had success with mid range jumpers, started to drive on the much taller cardinal and Stanford’s wall o’ defense took away shots or made them air-ball their shots. Around the same time, the refs finally started calling fouls on Tulsa, even stuff they got away with in the first half.

Chiney, perhaps instinctually knowing she needs her teammates to step up, forgo drives to the basket, her bread and butter, to feed Joslyn Tinkle several times for easy lay ins. Chiney lead the team in assists with four, and Tinkle would finish with nine points, although she had just one point in the first half. Taylor Greenfield also had nine, and Amber’s drives and pull ups netted her 14 points.

Tulsa, to their credit, did not fold like a number 16 seed. They got it back to within 10 with four minutes left. Then three minutes later, Stanford held them scoreless and suddenly had a 20 point lead. Chiney went to the bench with one minute left having scored 29 points and grabbed eight boards. Stanford's back up center Tess Picknell got a basket and a block, and frankly, the block made her more excited than the basket.

Tara VanDerveer gave all the right quotes after the game, saying she would rather have a game like this (bad first half, terrific second half) then “play a great first half and stink it up the second half.” Yes, and it would be even better to play two great halves. The next rounds won’t let them get away with a bad half, or even a bad quarter. Stanford will play Michigan Tuesday at 6:30 in the second round.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stanford Women's Basketball, Round 1, Tulsa

Stanford Women’s Basketball Team takes on the Tulsa Hurricanes in round 1 action at Maples. Game time starts at 2:20. Be there and be square as nerd nation starts their quest for a record sixth straight final four, and to finally bring home that trophy. More insights of the match up at the Stanford Official Site

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stanford, Relying on Amber Orrange, Hangs On to Win Pac-12 Championship

Chiney Ogwumike scored the first basket for the Stanford Women’s Basketball team in the championship game over UCLA. Little did anyone know, or could guess, All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike would not score another basket in the game. After hitting a foul shot (And she missed three out of four free throws), she went 38 minutes without a another basket or point.

Yes, yes, Stanford went on an 8-0 run in the first five minutes and sent UCLA star Markel Walker to the bench with two fouls. UCLA scored their first point at the 12-minute mark. Come on, I mean, Chiney went scoreless in the first 11 minutes of the previous game vs. Colorado, but not her whole team. It was 11-2 Stanford over UCLA at the 11:52 mark. The casual Twitter fans of the Pac-12 called this game ugly and were ready to crown Stanford and turn the channel.

Then, something strange happened. Chiney got her second foul and went to the bench with 7:56 left in the first. Stanford was up 14-4. Flash back to last year, when Chiney would get two quick fouls and go to the bench for the rest of the first half, and her sister Nneka would have to score and rebound everything. It was a weird flash back, because we couldn’t remember Chiney going to the bench in the first half all year. The Pac-12 announcers confirmed she has not had two fouls (and therefore be forced to sit by Stanford head Coach Tara VanDerveer) all season long.

Only this time there was no Nneka Ogwumike to score. Who would step up and score for Stanford? And could the team survive without their leading scorer, rebounder and defender on the bench? The answer: No.

Stanford, without Chiney, looked stagnant on offense. That ten-point lead became nine, then eight. Stanford, without Chiney, could not stop UCLA from getting offensive rebounds and second and third chances to score.  Seven, Six. Stanford did foul UCLA as they were shooting their misses. UCLA also decided to play their star Markel Walker with two fouls and it paid off for them. The lead now three. Oh, three-point Bonnie Samuelson hits one. UCLA answers, Bonnie hits another three. UCLA answers, then they hit a shot with 27 seconds left in the first to go up by one and take that momentum into the locker room.

Granted, the second and third leading scores for Stanford in Amber Orrrrange and Mikaela Ruef were sitting right beside Chiney on the bench in that same time period. That certainly didn’t help matters. UCLA took advantage of Stanford bench players who normally don’t play in tense situations.
It’s okay. Keep calm and carry on… with Chiney Ogwumike. She can’t be stopped for long, can she? Oh yes she can. UCLA would push her and double and triple team her. Granted, the refs didn’t call much, and the frustration showed when Chiney was yet again tripled teamed and knocked around and got called for traveling. She slammed the ball to the floor in a rare display of temper. But C and R were worried all year that Stanford was one-dimensional and without Chiney to score, and would not have anyone step up. It never happened, until now, a championship game.

But Stanford guard Amber Orrrrange decided she would do whatever it took to score. And C and R were so impressed with her game we have decided to spell Amber's last name correctly for the rest of this blog. As we have mentioned, Orrange doesn’t get many assists per game (none in this one) but she can drive and she can pull up and hit a jumper. And she did. She scored a career high 20 points and was the only Stanford player in double figures. Bonnie would get a third three in the second half for nine total points, and Ruef scored eight, none bigger then a big, tough shot in traffic with 51 seconds left to put Stanford up by two, 49-47. Then Ruef fouled out.

Then something terrible happened.
My Twitter feed went down.

Amber Orrange tied the game, then put Stanford ahead with two free throws with three minutes left. And the first lead since the first half for Stanford. Amber Orrange tied it up again with a minute and a half left. Ruef hits that jumper to put Stanford up by two with 51 seconds than fouls out, and I can’t tweet about it! I am about to burst.

Amber Orrange hits game winning shot
Amber Orrange scores the final basket and wins the game. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Amber Orrange, knowing her team needs a basket, dribbles, drives, spins, draws the two taller UCLA superstars in Walker and Brewer and she splits them, double pumps and banks it home with eight seconds left. Stanford leads 51-49. UCLA still gets a shot off, in those eight seconds, misses, fights for the rebound and Chiney Ogwumike knocks it out of bounds as the horn sounds. Stanford players rush the court, but refs huddle, and put .2 seconds on the clock and it is UCLA’s ball. Not a typo, it is point two seconds left.

My twitter is still down, or else I would have informed the Twitterverse that UCLA have to catch and release it, cannot land on your feet. Of course, the Pac-12 announcers also inform the peoples, as that is their job. UCLA catches and shoots, not sure, but I think she landed so it would not have counted had it gone in, and it did not. NOW, Stanford can rush the court, final score 51-49.

Chiney Ogwumike hugged her point guard and cried tears of joy. It wasn’t the team that saved Chiney from her worst shooting game of her career (three points, but 10 boards), it was one person. Chiney still got the Tournament MVP, now called MOP (most outstanding player, and why they changed it I don’t know). Amber Orrange made all Pac12 Tournament and deservedly so. She has been the number two scorer all year long. And Stanford has claim to the bizarre-est trophy ever.

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team won its seventh straight Pac12 Tournament Title and 10th overall! I don’t know if any of them were this close, though.

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Stanford Survives Colorado, in Pac-12 Finals against UCLA

Wow, that was a close call. With the air in KeyArena still heavy with upset vibes from UCLA smacking Cal out of the pac-12 tournament, Stanford looked like they might suffer a similar fate in the semi-final round against Colorado. Although to be fair, Cal only scored 14 at the half and was down by as much as 22 points. Stanford was never down more than four, and went on a 9-0 run in the second with 14 minutes left in the game to get some breathing room and keep the lead for good.

Chiney Ogwumike scores 29 and grabs 19 rebounds
Chiney Ogwumike struggled, yet still scored 25 and had 19 rebounds (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Colorado played a physical game, and the refs all tournament long have been “letting them play.” Colorado tried to take advantage of that by pushing on All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike. She missed shots, she was blocked (never seen so many blocks on her), she was knocked to the ground, she was harassed. She was held scoreless for the first 11 minutes of the game, and that has to be some kind of record. 

Usually, Stanford will respond to Chiney getting double and tripled-teamed with others stepping up to score, maybe some three-point shots to open things up for her, but not this time. Stanford made one three-pointer ALL game. Senior starter Joslyn was quiet (six total points). Sara James, who had five three-pointers last night, made only one this game and had five total points. She was held scoreless in the first half, and that’s never good.

Thank goodness for guard Amber Orrrrange. She might not get a lot of assists per game, but her specialty is driving in and hitting pull up jumpers. And that she did. She would score 13 points for the game, and kept Stanford in it when Colorado would go up by a bucket or two. Then, you can only keep an Ogwumike down for so long, especially after she loses a contact.

After Chiney got her first points of the game at the 11:04 mark in the first, she would go on to score 14 points and grab 10 rebounds, another double-double at half time. Stanford as a team was shooting just 28 percent in that half. Colorado had a slight one-point lead going into the locker room, where Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer could yell at her team for not playing good defense. That was only the fourth time all season Stanford was not leading at half. The last time was in January. Against Cal. And Stanford lost. And Cal had just lost. Hate to admit it, but C and R were a little nervous.

However, Colorado had their physical strategy back fire. They got seven fouls within 10 minutes in the first and Stanford shot bonus all night long. Stanford was 22-29 from the line for the game. Colorado, by contrast, did not get to the line much, and was only 3-4 from free-throw land.

In the second, Amber Orrrrange got a three-point play at the 15:51 mark to put Stanford ahead by three, for their first lead since the first half. Colorado’s Chucky Jeffrey, who had an outstanding game with 19 points but no supporting cast, kinda like Chiney sometimes, hit a three to tie it up for the tenth time in the game shortly after. Then Stanford went on that 9-0 run, clamped down on defense, and never looked back. The final score was 61-47.

Stanford’s Mikaela Ruef was a big part of that 9-0 run and had strong play in the final minutes. With Colorado keying on Chiney, she could drive to the basket before someone would pick her up and she finished some tough shots. She finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and a team-high four assists.
Chiney would end up with 25 points and 19 boards, just short of a 20-20 game again. Although looking closer at the stats, she was 9-24 from the floor. That’s a lot of misses, especially for her, who shoots something like 60% from the floor. She made her shots in the second, but Colorado did not make it any easier on her. She earned every shot. Several times we saw her miss on the blocks, sometimes twice in a row. That was a rare sight indeed.

Three Stanford players in double figures, yay. Now, Stanford will meet a tough, physical UCLA team on ESPN2, where the rest of the nation can see them play. And what’s a Pac-10 or 12 final without a Stanford in it? Because they have been in every single time. Let’s hope for another positive outcome and that Stanford is well rested.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Stanford Beats Washington State in 1st Round of Pac-12 Tournament

Just a quick blog about the Stanford Women’s Basketball team playing in the Pac-12 tournament, because with three games in three days, C and R have to pace themselves. Stanford played Washington State in their opening game with predictable results. They won 79-60, a repeat of the last regular season game. A lucky WSU basket with 5 seconds left is the only reason WSU broke 60.

Cal also won, although they will next play UCLA. UCLA plays a physical game like Cal, so should be an interesting match up. If any team can beat Cal before the inevitable championship game with Stanford, it would be UCLA. Unfortunately for Stanford, UCLA s banged up and not at full strength.

Chiney Ogwumike scores 23 and grabs 21 rebounds
Even triple-teamed, Chiney Ogwumike scores 23 and grabs 21 boards (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
First, just as you can’t have a game without an Ogwumike losing a contact, you can’t write a Stanford Women’s Basketball story this year without first mentioning All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike. She continues to impress and breaks records. 

Chiney Ogwumike had a double-double by half time, with 17 points and 12 rebounds at the break. In fact, she ended the first half with a nifty steal and went coast-to-coast for the lay in to bring Stanford up 35-23. Chiney would end up with 23 points and 21 rebounds for the game. It was her second career 20-20 game. It was the first time in Pac-12 tournament history a player had a 20-20 game. It was also a single-game rebounding record. And, there was a stretch of seven and a half minutes to start the second where she was scoreless.

Chalk up four assists, so it is nice to see Chiney can also pass when double or tripled teamed. One was especially purty when Sara James threw a ball half the distance of the court to a Stanford three on none. Chiney caught it and whipped it behind her back to her twin, Tinkle for the easy lay in. Even coach Tara VanDerveer cracked a smile at that one.

Also breaking records was Sara James, starting in place of injured Toni Kokenis (no, we don’t know what her injury is, we are as clueless as you). Sara made a career high five 3-pointers for 17 points, and scored 14 in the second half alone. It’s nice to see when Chiney is struggling, Stanford can have others step up, and in this case, hit from the outside.

Joslyn Tinkle would add ten points, all in the second half. Wish she could consistently score throughout the game. But maybe when you have an Ogwumike scoring inside, you want to watch. Or feed her. Stanford did have 20 assists to WSU’s ten. Mikalea Ruef had a team high seven, one more than guard Amber Orrrrange.

Three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson hit three 3-pointers. She also took one charge, hitting the ground, although she looks so small and frail, it does not take much contact to knock her to the ground, we noticed. Prophetic words, she got knocked to the ground a second time on a rebound and as she fell straight back, she did not break her fall or pull her chin to her chest. He head went straight back and whammed the floor hard. She was taken to the bench and did not return. That looked an awful lot like a concussion to us. Hope she is okay and we wish her well.

Still Stanford was up by 17 in the first and then had sloppy play and let WSU come back within nine. Stanford also had 16 turnovers to WSU’s nine. Stanford needs to tighten up for the next two games. They will play the winner of Colorado and Washington. Then, if Stanford wins, they play the winner of Cal-UCLA.

Coach VanDerveer praised Chiney Ogwumike’s game, of course, but said she was disappointed in their defense. She also liked how Sara James knocked down her outside shots and said other swill step up tomorrow. We will see who it is.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Stanford Beats Washington State, Clinches Pac-12 Title

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team won their last regular season game against Washington State 72-50. That win gets Stanford their 13th straight Pac -12 Championship and 22nd overall. Unfortunately, Cal won their last home game, too, and because they lost to each other, Stanford has to share the Pac-12 Title with their rivals. This is the first time Stanford has not won the regular season conference title outright since 2004. The Cardinal shared the title with Arizona that year. This is Cal’s first Pac-12 title, regular season or tournament.

And hats off to Cal. They beat Stanford once, and didn’t lose focus for the rest of the season, wining all their games since. Cal Coach Lindsey Gottleib has our early vote for Pac-12 and National Coach of the Year. But this ain’t Cal Golden Blogs, so on with the Stanford show.

Chiney Ogwumike sets records for single season rebounds and career double doubles
Chiney Ogwumike scores 28 and grabs 13 rebounds (AP Photo/Dean Hare)
Stanford beat Washington State how they have been doing it all season long: On the coat tails on All-American, All-everything Chiney Ogwumike. She had 28 points and 13 rebounds. And that was in just 28 minutes of play. Well, she did have 22 in the first half alone, so she could sit down in the second. The 28 points set a new career high for the junior forward. Chiney recorded her 24th double-double of the season and 54th all time, a continuing Stanford record. She also broke Stanford's single-season rebound record with 381. The previous record of 376 was by her sister Nneka Ogwumike during the 2009-10 season. Chiney has the post season, AND one more year to break that record. 

C and R have always maintained if anyone is going to break Nneka’s records, we are glad it is Chiney. Although sister Nneka was good-naturedly griping at Chiney on Twitter that the statistician would give Chiney  credit for a rebound when it was really hers due to their similar build. She had a bit of a point about playing with Chiney limited her rebounds. Nneka’s last two seasons she shared with Chiney, so not only were they fighting the other teams for rebounds, they were technically fighting each other. Nneka’s senior year, in particular, Chiney’s role was to rebound and Nneka was to take the first shot. If Nneka missed, Chiney inevitably got the rebound and the put back. It was, and is, her bread and butter. This year, Chiney is the only rebounder, looking at how she has consistently gotten double figure for most of the season.

And Mama knows best. When C and R traveled to LA to see Nneka in her rookie season with the LA Sparks, we caught up with Mama Ogwumike. We asked her how she thought Stanford was going to do without Nneka’s scoring and rebounding. She told us to wait and see, Chiney will rise to the occasion now that Nneka is not there. Boy, was she right.

And let’s listen in to the post game press conference. "What can you say about Chiney, she is so difficult to guard, she scores and rebounds and gets knocked around... And she does it all with a smile on her face, " Washington State coach June Daugherty said. "We call her the smiling assassin." Smiling Assassin. We love it. Gotta get some T-shirts made!

And let’s hear from her coach, Hall of Famer Tara Vanderveer: "Chiney is amazing, she is a great player and an even better person, she is a leader and a very special person to coach, she does so many things on the court rebounds, steals, blocks," VanDerveer said.

And let’s hear from the player herself: "I was surprised, I don't go into a game trying to break records, I just try to come in and play aggressive, but those things don't happen without teammates, that put me in great positions to score and rebound," Ogwumike said. "I told them go out and play defense and I will rebound”

Rebound she did, and defense they did. The rest of the Stanford team, that is. They are the first Stanford team to hold all opponents under 70 points a game. For this game, The Cougars shot only 25 percent from the field and went 1-14 from the 3-point line. And they hit that only 3-pointer of the night with 20 seconds on the clock. And with the Stanford starters firmly on the bench. And Stanford held Washington State Freshmen guard Lia Galdeira to only eight points and seven rebounds. Galdeira leads the nation in scoring as freshmen at 14.9 ppg.  Stanford’s stingy defense held all the Cougars to single digit scoring ands rebounding, and scored 16 points off 14 Cougar turnovers.

Other notables for Stanford, Joslyn Tinkle added 13 points, and Mikaela Ruef scored seven and pulled down 10 rebounds. Sara James contributed nine points and six rebounds. Still no action from guard Toni Kokenis, who has an undisclosed medical condition.

Next up is the Pac-12 Tournament. Even though Stanford and Cal are regular season co-champions, Stanford is the number one seed due to the tie breaker. We have read the tie  breaker is better winning percentage or points allowed, or something like that. Games start March 7th, although Stanford and Cal each have a first round bye and won’t play until Friday. See ya in Seattle.

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