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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