Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stanford Blows Out UC Santa Barbara

Stanford blew out UC Santa Barbara 90-34. The undersized gauchos only shot 20% the first 20 minutes, resulting in 13 points at the half. And what exactly is a gaucho, you ask? Well, we learned from a helpful person wearing a UC Barbara shirt that a gaucho is an Argentinean cowboy, and not stylish short pants.

Brittany McPhee
Brittany McPhee (12) rebounds next to teammate Amber Orrange (33) (GEORGE NIKITIN — AP Photo)
With the lopsided score, Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer got to rest her starters and play all 15 Stanford players, and 12 of them scored. Even with the limited minutes, four players were in double figures. Lili Thompson lead Stanford with 12, Karlee Samuleson and Briana Roberson each had 11, and freshie Brittany McPhee had 10. Loved Brittanys hustle, diving after balls, making blocks, and doing the little things to help her team. Bonnie Samuelson added nine. Speaking of the sharp-shooting Samuelson sisters (say that five times fast), each made three 3-pointers, going a combined 6-9 from downtown. Shout out to Erica McCall with a career high 12 rebounds and eight points. Double shoot out to Jasmine Camp who scored her first basket of the season, a three. She followed that up with a second three pointer.

And yet…

Here, let’s let our guest blogger, D, tell you about it (She got to take R’s place, who is out of town for the holidays).
D: Two things I noticed. When the Stanford posts screen, they are not effective. The other team sees them coming and can slip by the screen.
C: I heard the other team shout our “screen” as it was being set.
D: Exactly, the screen is telegraphed too much.
C: And you can’t discount the fact Stanford has been doing this high screen all season long and teams are noticing this on game film. What was the other thing?
D: Remember that cheer. BE aggressive, B-E aggressive!?
C: Yes.
D:  The post players are just not aggressive, in my opinion. They are not absolute ball hounds going for rebounds and when they catch the ball outside the paint, they are not a threat. They catch the ball and are on their heels looking for the next pass. They do not look like a threat to shoot or drive. The other team can back off of them on defense. They should be able to hit a shot outside the paint to keep the defense honest.
C: Yes, the lack of post play has been a concern of many who follow Stanford. Let’s hope they can keep working on this as Pac-12 play starts.
D: And what is up with the Stanford Tree?
C: That's three things, and I think he is supposed to be a palm tree.
D: I prefer the more Christmas-tree look of past seasons.
C: You gotta admit he is a great dancer.
D: That he is. Let me go take some video…

Enjoy the rest of 2014. We will see everyone back at Maples in 2015 for Pac-12 play (look out for Oregon State).

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Stanford Wins at Home vs UC Davis

The Stanford women’s basketball team won at home, after their not so successful trip to Tennessee, but the game was closer than the score indicates. The score was Stanford 71, UC Davis 59, but at the half Stanford only had a 34-30 lead. UC Davis played a tough game, out rebounded the Card, and hung around until late in the game.

Stanford also had a bit of a new look on offense. All five players stood on the perimeter. Not a single person in red and white in the key. Then guards would dribble penetrate and kick out to a waiting three point specialist. Most of the time it worked.

Samuelson Sisters
Stanford's Bonnie Samuelson (left) scored a career-high 30 points and teamed with her sister, Karlie (44), to help down UC Davis (Photo by Bob Drebin/
Stanford hit 10 out of 17 of their threes. The Samuelson sisters made nine of them. Speaking of the sisters, they both got the start in this game, and you know how Stanford loves sister combinations. This was the first time both of them have started in the two years they have both been at Stanford. Younger Karlie (KSam) usually gets the start, but this was older sister Bonnie’s (BSam) first start this year. And of course starting Bonnie made Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer look like a genius.

Bonnie scored a career-high 30 points, including six three pointers. It was the fifth time she scored six three and her previous game high was 21 points. She also scored 8-10 free throws. Normally that is a great percentage, but Bonnie had a 44-staight streak going on. So to miss once on FTs for her is rare, twice, doubly rare. She had not missed a FT since December 28, 1990. Although when UC Davis played the foul game at near the end Stanford smartly gave her the ball to absorb the foul.And oh, Bonnie’s 30 was the first non-Ogwumike 30-point game at Stanford since Jeanette Pohlen on December 30, 2010.

Freshmen Kaylee Johnson added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Stanford (7-4). Her second double double game. No one else got in double figures, which must vex Tara, and strangely, the other three was made by Lii Thompson but was her only points for the game. She started out the year with a couple of great games including 24 against UConn, (‘member that game?). Not sure what has happened to make her production go down.

Next game is after Christmas on December 28 back at Maples. Hope the players get to go home for the holidays and refresh before the Pac-12 conference games start in January.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stanford Trampled by Tennessee

The good news? The Stanford Women’s Basketball team held Tennessee to 27 first half points. The bad news? Stanford only scored 15 in the same period. Stanford shot 23% in the first, making five of 21. They shot 25% for the game. To be fair, both teams struggled early on. Tennessee shot 35 % in the first before heating up in the second. How bad was it for Stanford? They were stuck on 10 points for eight minutes, from 10:24 to 2:10 left in the first. Stanford scored one basket over the last 10 minutes of the first half.

Erica McCall
Tennessee guard/forward Jaime Nared (31) and Stanford forward Erica McCall (24) get tangled up (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

The good news? When Stanford did score in the first, it was guards driving on high ball screens. The bad news? Tennessee finally caught on to the play and cut off drives or contested shots when the guards did make it to the blocks. Tennessee is always known to be physical, and there was contact many times without whistles, but you still have to finish. A lot of missed shots (13-51). Once that drive was cut off, Stanford once again did not have a post option to go to all game. That was coupled with Tennessee’s long bodies and athletic ability to rush Stanford at the three point line to limit good looks. Stanford made 6 out of 18 for the game from three point land.

Let’s just say Tennessee’s defense made Stanford offense look bad.

Second half was just more of the same. Both teams struggled early on and no one scored in the first 3 minutes. Then Tennessee finally got hot, and Ariel Massengale started bombing threes. She made four of them and finished the game with 18 points. When Stanford would make a shot, or even a three, they could not get a defensive stop on the other end.

The final score was Tennessee 59, Stanford 40. Both teams combined to miss 75 shots and commit 37 turnovers.

The good news
Lili Thompson scored 13 points, including two 3-pointers.
Kaylee Johnson lost a contact, continuing the Ogwumike trend. Let's hope this translates to Ogwumike rebounds and points (She was held to eight boards and four points in this one).

The bad news
No one else from Stanford was in double figures. Take out Lili’s 13 and the rest of the starting five scored 10 points. The next highest scorer for Stanford was a tie with four points. Stanford had not lost consecutive games since December 2010.  Also, it was the first time Stanford has scored below 50 points in consecutive games since 1976-77 season. Fewest points (by 8) for the Cardinal in 32 all-time games against Tennessee, and fewest points by an opponent ranked in the top 10 against Tennessee.

Stanford comes back to Maples Monday, so we hope they can get a win for Christmas and build up some confidence and better inside presence.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stanford Can’t Score Against Chattanooga

So the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team traveled to Tennessee and played an unranked team they have never played before, and…lost. Stanford, ranked #7 lost to Chattanooga (UTC) 54-46 (and just what is a “Moc,” that school’s nickname?).

So what happened is…well, I don’t know what happened really, as my boss pulled me into an impromptu meeting at 3 PM Stanford time, just as the game was starting (and we hate these starts during work hours). When I came out, Stanford was down by 1, 29-28 at the half despite going on a 10-0 run. Talk about low scoring. Looks like UTC kept themselves in the game by making a bunch of threes (7 out of 15 in the first half).

Erica Payne
Stanford’s Erica Payne-(Billy Weeks-AP Photo)
What I did see of the second half was no presence in the post for Stanford. Stanford tried the high screens for the guards at the top of the circle, but like so many other teams that have the advantage of watching game film, UTC was on to it and cut off the guards’ drive to the basket. Then there was nowhere to go with the ball. Plus Stanford’s three ball was not working, going 4-17 for the game, and making only one in the second half. Stanford only shoot seven free throws for the game, so the lack of a drive was also not creating trips to the free throw line. Stanford was averaging something like 80 points a game, so to be held to under 50 is either good defense on UTC's part or shall we say lack of scoring on Stanford's part, or both.

Wanna hear something weird? UTC did not score a single basket in the final 11:26 of the game. That’s right, not a one. Their defense did hold Stanford to just 12 points in that same time frame. However, UTC went to the line and made 11 of 12 free throw in that basket drought. Don’t know if we have ever seen that before. Wanna hear another weird fact? For the second game in a row, the other team did not shoot a free throw in the first half. Is that a testament to Stanford’s tough defense without fouling?

Lili Thompson was the Stanford high scorer with nine, so that goes to show you no one was in double figures. The Stanford site says “It's the first time in nearly two decades that the Cardinal has not had a double-digit scorer in a game.” A #7 ranked team needs someone to step up in these games. Shout out to senior Erica Payne who played a season-high 18 minutes and went 3-4 for six points. Freshmen Kaylee Johnson continues to rebound in the double digits, grabbing 12.

Well, Stanford shouldn’t feel too bad, Chattanooga did knock off another ranked team in their last game. It was, yep, Tennessee, which was ranked #4 at the time. Stanford will meet them Saturday, maybe they can commiserate.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stanford Beats Santa Clara After Long Lay Off

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team shook off the rust of a two week vacation, if you call studying and taking finals at Stanford a vacation, and beat neighbor Santa Clara in a not very neighborly fashion. Although the final score was 82-43 and Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer got to play everyone healthy, Stanford really did look rusty.

Stanford came out slow, and played from behind for the first four and a half minutes of the game. Stanford also did not make many threes, just going 4-9 for the game. In fact, Stanford’s three point specialist Bonnie Samuelson made the first Stanford three with about one minute to play in the first half. However Stanford did finish the first half strong, going on a 22-4 run.. Santa Clara had zero free throw attempts in the first (and went 1-4 for the game).

Kaylee Johnson
Kaylee Johnson had 22 rebounds. (Photo by Bob Drebin/
What was working in the first half was freshmen Kaylee Johnson. She was a rebounding fool. She has 11 boards in the first half, and finished the game with 22, which tied her career high set at New Mexico this year. She also scored nine points. In only eight games so far this season, she has two 20+ rebounding games. Quick, can you name another outstanding Stanford rebounder who had multiple 20+ rebounding games in a season? Answer, Chiney Ogwumike, who holds the Pac-12 rebounding record. Kaylee’s high school coach said she would break that record, and now we know he was not blowing smoke! But wait, there’s more. Kaylee Johnson is the only player in the whole NCAA with multiple 20-rebound games this season.

What was working for Stanford as a team in the second half was better ball movement, points off turnovers and second chances on put backs. They won the rebounding war 57-33. And Tara rested her starters to give her bench playing time.

Other career highs
Amber Orrange scored a season high 20 points and it was her 4th career game of at least 20 points. Her career high is 22, I believe set against UConn (‘remember that game?). Freshmen Brittany McPhee scored a career high 11 points (Bonnie Samuelson was the only other player besides Brittany and Amber to score in double figures. She added 11 from the bench).

So now Stanford travels back east to the land of too early games and too cold weather to play two Tennessee teams. They first play pardon me boy, is that the chattanooga choo choo (Chattanooga) and then the Tennessee Lady Vols. Pat Summit might be gone, but they physical style of play is not. Will be another big test on the road for Stanford. Hope they pass.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stanford 2-1 in Hawaiian Tournament

So how was your Thanksgiving Weekend? C and R’s involved too much pie. For the Stanford Women’s Basketball team, they were in beautiful Hawaii for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Shootout. They also had to play their third ranked team in two weeks, the University of North Carolina. A team that was ranked #10, annd is tall and physical like Texas, yet could hit threes. Stanford fell 70-54.

Stanford in Hawaii
Stanford could not stop North Carolina (Photo-UNC Twitter feed)
And while we didn’t see the game (see pie excuse, possibly in pie coma), it sounds as if Stanford could not get an inside game going (like Texas). This is proving to be a huge problem. And also could not stop the other team from going down the middle. The box score is ugly. To be fair, Stanford held UNC to 24 first half points. To be brutally fair, Stanford only scored 18 in the same time period. Both teams shot dismally in the first, with the teams combined for 15-of-66 from the field (22.7%).

Let’s hear it from Stanford head coach Tara Vanderveer’s mouth:
"Our defense in the second half wasn't as good -- our defense in the first half was better," VanDerveer added. "Our offense was very stagnant and we just need more people contributing. We don't have much of an inside game right now, which we have to work on. We weren't moving the ball as well as needed to and we were flat and we can't play that way."

Second Game vs. Host Hawaii:
Although Lili Thompson was the leading Stanford scorer in the UNC game with 15 for the losing cause, she found her Hawaiian mojo and led all scorers with 26 points in this one. She also shot 6-7 on threes. Stanford beat up on the host team 86-73.  In case you didn’t know, Lili spent part of her childhood in Hawaii and had some friends in the stands.

Stanford had four players in double figures. Guard Amber Orrange added 19 and Erica McCall added 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Freshman Kaylee Johnson added 10 points and eight boards. Again we didn’t see this so can’t add much but I know coach was happy with Erica’s 11 as she played and scored inside more. However, one game against an unranked opponent doesn’t’ mean all problems have been fixed. Hope Stanford can build on this.

Third Game vs Prairie View A & M
The third game was against Prairie View A&M. Surprisingly, these two teams had never met. And PVA&M probably wished they hadn’t. Stanford led 52-18 at the half, after falling behind and then going on a 23-0 run. Coach VanDerveer was in a Thanksgiving mood and let all 14 players play, and 13 scored at least 2 points.

Highlights in this one:
Erica McCall had 13 points and nine rebounds. Stanford shot 54.5 percent from the field, and was 11 of 18 on 3-pointers, and made 17 of 21 from the free throw line. Karlie Samuelson hit three of six 3-point attempts for nine points and Kaylee Johnson added eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals for the Cardinal. Bri Roberson had 12 points, a new career high. Freshie Brittany McPhee had a career high eight points in this one.

Stanford flies back to Cali however we don’t see them until Dec 14 at Maples. I think the Stanford players have finals in that time frame, so best of luck to them.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Stanford Holds off New Mexico

So the Stanford Women’s Basketball game at New Mexico started out Stanford enough. Stanford, even though without their leading scorer Lili Thompson (illness), found themselves up 22-6 in the first five minutes. Credit Karlie Samuelson (KSam) with four made threes for 12 points in that span.

Then New Mexico stopped the threes, and like Texas, they also stopped Stanford’s screen and drive to the basket game. Stanford was stuck, could not score, and when you watched on the free streaming video from the Mountain West Network, no on in a black uniform (which C and R love) was even within three feet of the paint. New Mexico clawed back and took the lead. Stanford didn’t have an inside game and could not penetrate inside. The low scoring half ended with Stanford’s Amber Orrange heaving a three and banking it at the buzzer to tie it at 35 (yes, Stanford was down at that point, as NM went on their own 21-4 run).

One fiery locker room talk from Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer later and Stanford comes out and goes on a 14-2 run in the first five minutes. Then Stanford, without a strong post presence, could not stop NM when they drove. New Mexico actually took the lead, 65-64, with 45 seconds left in the game, going on another run, this time out scoring Stanford 12-1.

Kaylee Johnson
Stanford forward Kaylee Johnson (MARK HOLM — AP Photo)
Still, credit Stanford for rebounding tough, especially Kaylee Johnson. The Freshie starter and pride of Wyoming grabbed a career-high 22 boards, 15 in the first half, and Stanford won the rebound battle 50-31. She also scored 10 points and hit the go-ahead free throws with 30 seconds left. Stanford would hang on to win 70-65.

Other notables, KSam hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 23 points and sister Bonnie Samuelson (BSam) added two free throws in the final seconds to help preserve the victory. As R said, Bonnie is automatic. The ball didn’t even rest in her hand before it was in the hoop. Kaylee Johnson’s 22 rebounds is only the 12th time in Stanford history a player has produced 20-plus rebounds in a game. Brianna Roberson, she of the tiny and the speed, knows she can’t take on a post player straight up on offense, so continues to use her speed and just run at the basket and shoot. She gets the foul call almost every single time. She was 3-4 from the line. Amber Orrange added 18 points, including that banked-in 3-pointer from more than 30 feet at the first-half buzzer. She also had the block with seven seconds left to keep New Mexico from even getting a shot off when Stanford was only up by three, 68-65.

Get better Lili. Get taller Erica McCall and Kailee Johnson so Stanford can utilize the post position more. Go soak up some sun in Hawaii, Stanford. Should be good for what ails ya.

Everyone have a happy Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stanford Can’t Stay on Top, Fall to Texas

Stanford did not lead for the majority of the game…they were down by 10 at one point…Amber Orrange kept Stanford in it with some clutch shooting near the end…the game went into overtime…no, dear reader, you are not suffering deja vu nor is this a late write up of the UConn-Stanford game. This was the Texas-Stanford game, and it had a different ending, too.

So four days ago, the Stanford Women’s Basketball team executed a well thought out and rehearsed game plan, and knocked off then #1 UConn, winner of last year’s championship. Four days later, Stanford accidently found itself ranked #1 by the coach’s poll and yet the team looked like they were suffering an emotional hangover on the floor. No energy, not much emotion when things were going well, which, granted, wasn’t often (So here's a picture of Lili showing mucho emotion).
Lili Thompson
Stanford guard Lili Thompson celebrates after getting fouled. (BECK DIEFENBACH — AP Photo)
Even when Texas tied the game with 1.4 seconds left Stanford didn’t attempt a shot. Which is strange because, remember the UConn game when Amber Orrange tied the game with 1.4 seconds left? Stanford’s three point specialist Karlie Samuelson (KSam) got the ball with 1.4 seconds left and dribbled about ¼ of the way up the court and didn’t even attempt a shot. You’re the 3-point stud, maybe they even foul you, at least take a chance!

As C and R mentioned, the game went into overtime tied at 75 (And Stanford only got the lead with about 1:43 left). And C and R are thinking, Stanford must be telling each other in the huddle… Overtime is our time, we know how to do this, we beat UConn in overtime, no problem, we got this. But instead they just looked tired. They got behind and had to play the foul game and ended up losing 87-81.

To be fair, several players were nursing injuries, Taylor Greenfield and Ksam were limping at several points throughout the game, and Lili Thompson hit the floor numerous times, in this and the UConn game.

However two things stick out. Texas must have seen the UConn game film on Stanford’s screens to free the guards and were all over it. Stanford had a very hard time penetrating the paint like they could against UConn. Once that did not work, Stanford didn’t seem to have too many options. And Texas had height and boxed out well. Hard to get rebounds.

And the second thing is with no real post presence for Stanford, Texas could drive all day and not get stopped. They executed their own pick and roll and both Stanford players stayed on the ball handler, letting the tall screener roll to the basket unimpeded. When the ball was passed to the tall screener, a third Stanford defender would rotate over, not in time to stop the shot, but just in time to foul. Texas successful did it twice in 45 seconds, they were so sure it could not be stopped. That and stopping drives must be addressed.

Okay, Game Balls:
Lili Thompson had 28 points and seven rebounds. Third straight 20+ game. Brianna Roberson made eight free throws for a career-high eight points while filling in for Orrange, who got in foul trouble early in the first half, and fouled out in overtime. Amber did score 15, and as we mentioned, always at key times when Stanford really needed a basket. Freshie Kailee Johnson again rebounded well, pulling down 13 against bigger players and added seven points.

Yes, Stanford's own home streak ended, but did you know in their last 113 games at Maples, Stanford is 110-3?

Well, don’t feel to bad for Stanford. They travel to New Mexico before heading to HAWAII for the Rainbow Wahine Shootout Thanksgiving Tournament.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Stanford Beats UConn in OT 88-86

There are so many outstanding moments to highlight in Stanford’s come-from-behind, overtime win over #1 UConn, ending a 47-game win streak. Yes, that’s right, we said it... The Stanford Women’s Basketball team beat UConn!!

Nom, Nom Nom
That is the sound of C and R eating their words. Heck, it is the sound of the Nation eating their words. NO one believed Stanford could do it, not the National Media, not the local media, not UConn, not the Stanford fans, not the bloggers and tweeters, including us, Stanford’s biggest homer fans. Heck, even Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer was hedging her bets, saying in a SJ Merc article that this will be a great learning situation regardless of the score, just want to see the team battle. Mea Culpe to you, Stanford team.

Amber Orrange
Stanford's Amber Orrange (33) takes on UConn (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
So, as we said, there are so many great moments in this game. The Freshmen Kaylee  Johnson pulling down big boards (wonder how those announcers faired on ESPN2 with the two Johnsons, Kaylee and Kailee, no relation, and the two Samuelson sisters, who are related and what about youngest Samuelson going to UConn? Think she is regretting that decision right about now? But we digress).

Oh yeah, big plays: Stanford guards Amber Orrange and Lili Thonpson driving the lane for baskets in TVD’s new offense, including Amber’s pair of lay ins in the final seconds to keep it close. Or how about Amber’s three with 1.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 77? UConn guarded the Samuelsons but left Amber alone…BAM. Lili was flying all over the floor and scored 24, including two free throws to cut the lead to 71-70 with 42 seconds to play. However it was Amber Orrange’s 17 points at key, key points that kept Stanford in it. Amber even made a go-ahead jumper with 1:38 left in overtime, and was trending on twitter, something that is hard to do for women’s sports.

And what about D? In overtime, Stanford forced a 5-second violation and prevented the Huskies from getting off a final shot on OT. Stanford shut down UConn’s three point shooter, Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis. She was guarded primarily by Karlie Samuelson, had only two points in the half. She only got four shots off and missed them all. Her points came on the free-throw line. She finally made her first basket, a three, with 9:40 left in regulation. UConn’s preseason All-America Breana Stewart, at one point in the second half, scored about 8 points in like, two seconds to start to pull UConn away, and C turned to R and said, oh no, here we go. She looks like a player who could take over a game, like our very own Nneka Ogwumike. And then she disappeared. If she can learn that skill to go for the kill, then they will be unstoppable. This variation of UConn looked beatable.

But, there before the grace of god go I...or us...or Stanford. Really, with a two point win in OT, it was really just one bad foul call away from going the other way. I just want to give a shout out to all the UConn fans I saw in social media. They were gracious, and if there were any bad sports, C and R don’t want to hear about them. Yes, this is just the second game of the season, both teams will look very differently in March, when the games really count. We know, we know. Someone on twitter said, after watching the Stanford student body storm the court, geez, Stanford acts like they won the National Championship or something. When you feel like an underdog, and it is reflected back to you by so many outside sources, this IS a national championship, a very hard thing to win, and something that those players will remember forever.

Looking forward to a great season! C and R really, really mean it this time!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stanford Beats up on Boston College

There is a saying in sports about a full scheduled of games, and it goes something like, “Take it one game at a time.” So with the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team showing a great second half of basketball to beat Boston College 96-63, C and R will try to talk only about this game and not what comes next… which is UConn, the preseason favorite to repeat as National Champions.

The Stanford guards harassed BC’s back court and got three steals each which I think they converted all into lay ups (Can they repeat this against UConn… oh darn, we said we weren’t going to do that). The guards also pushed the ball up the court and made some great passes to some front court players who were cutting well and very open, only to have those players not be able to put the ball in the basket. This allowed BC to stick around and tie the game with about 6 minutes left before Stanford started pulling away.

To be fair, BC hit a lot of threes in the first half, nine to be exact. Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, the master of half time adjustments simply said at the break, "If they make a 3 on you, you're coming out," What motivates some…however, guess how many threes BC made in the second…that’s right, zero. They shot five times behind the arc after that half time statement and missed them all. No one had to sit down and Tara got to give all 15 players some playing time.

Ball screens worked well, but will faster players adjust to them better? (Sorry, sorry, sorry, said we wouldn’t do that). Also, Stanford players attacked the basket with dribble penetration, something C and R have not seen a lot of in the last few years. I think the players like taking it to the other team and did not show fear.

Lili Thompson
Lili Thompson (Photo: Brant Ward / The Chronicle
Guard Lili Thompson scored a career high 26 points, hitting three of four three-pointers.  BC knocked her down, twice, on hard screens, the second time she had to limp to the bench and leave the game, only to come back later and hit two of those threes. Erica McCall also had a career high with 16 points, and she looked eager to grab rebounds.

Stanford had four players in double figures. Guard Amber Orrange had 11 points and was leading rebounder with nine. Taylor Greenfield scored 10 and relished her freedom to drive to the basket. All the freshmen scored, with Kaylee (Kale) Johnson getting the start and Brittany McPhee hitting her first shot, a three.

And how did UConn do on their first game on their West Coast Tour? They beat UC Davis 102-43, including  a 39-0 run. The Huskies made 18 three-pointers, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis tied Maya Moore's school record with 10 three-pointers for 30 points in just 24 minutes. Wonder if VanDerveer would give the same ultimatum at half time? (PS, Geno is going to wine country before Monday’s game. C and R can only hope he goes off on some sort of wine bender and can’t find his way to the team bus! We kid, we love you Geno!)

Whoops, wasn’t going to mention UConn. However, to be fair, TVD has said it is a win-win situation playing them regardless of the outcome. It will only help Stanford get better. And it will be fun to watch the team’s growth the rest of the season.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stanford Wins Second Exhibition Game

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team won their second and final exhibition game against UC San Diego 74-51. This game was most memorable because it is the first time the VanderVeer sisters are coaching against each other as head coaches.

Tara VanDerveer in the Hall of Fame coach for Stanford’s squad who used to drag little sister Heidi around to basketball camps in a beat up ol VW bus when she was just starting her basketball journey. Little sister Heidi VanDerveer, head of UC San Diego just wants big sis’s approval (and is very, very familiar with the Cardinal). Mom Rita was in attendance wearing a UC San Diego T-shirt and a Stanford sweatshirt. Guess which logo was on the outside? Smart of Tara to send the sweatshirt then…always thinking.

The VanDerveer sisters
The VanDerveer sisters, Tara and Heidi (Photo Courtesy: Heidi VanDerveer)
The Stanford players, admittedly by coach as a team without a superstar that will get things done by committee, had four players in double figures. Erica McCall had 18 points. Taylor Greenfield added 16, 14 in the second half. Guard Lili Thompson had 10. Senior guard Amber Orrange had a double double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, something guards don’t normally do. Freshie Kaylee Johnson had 12 rebounds as well. And it was a block party with 12 blocks from six different Stanford players. (One each by guards Lili and Amber. Now that is stepping up!)

Stanford fans also got to see freshie guard Brittany McPhee for the first time. She is battling some injuries. She scored 4 points in 9 minutes. During her high school career, she had more points than Stanford great Kate Starbird. We learned from the post-game talk that she has a twin sister named Jordan who plays for Seattle Pacific and runs the mile faster than she does. Here’s more on these amazing Freshmen women.

Still it was hard to get a feel for the team as they start the season against Boston College and then play their second game against a very stacked UConn team here at Maples.

See ya when the season starts.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stanford Shines in Preseason

Stanford women’s Basketball Fans got a look at what we have been waiting for: The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team. More specifically, this offense that is dubbed “not the triangle.”
Stanford played NAIA Vanguard University, and despite the lack of height (although Vanguard was even smaller), ran all over them to the tune of 105-50. And boy do we mean run. Sophomore Briana Roberson is so, so quick.

Sophomore guard Lili Thonpson is picking up right where she ended her freshmen year, hitting killer shots, pushing the ball, seeing the floor well, and not backing down. She was a bright spot among many (four Stanford players in double figures). Lili scored 26 points. Fellow sophomore Erica McCall had 15 points and 10 boards, one of the players in double figures but she hit hers in the first half! Karlie Samuelson (KSam) added 17 points in 19 minutes. Her specialties are threes and she was 3-6 behind the line. Freshmen Kaylee Johnson had 12 points and 16 boards.

Lili Thompson
Lili Thompson goes for two (Photo Courtesy of GoStanford -Stanford Official Site)

Yes, we have two players with the same last names, and no they are not sisters. One is Sophomore Kailee Johnson and one is Freshmen Kaylee Johnson. One is pronounced Kay-lee and one is pronounced Ki-lee, but we can’t tell you which one is which. Not to be confused with two players with the same last name of Samuelson, who ARE sisters. Senior Bonnie and sophomore Karlie, hence the BSam and KSam nicknames. Maybe for the Johnsons, KJ1 and KJ2 for the freshie? Or thing 1 and thing 2? What do they do in practice?

Speaking of freshmen, C and R were hoping to get a good look at all the freshies, but one stayed under wraps and on the bench. Kailee Johnson started and scored (See above), Taylor Rooks came in the second half but did not score. We did not get to see freshie Brittany McPhee.

So Stanford proved they were able to score without a triangle or a super tall person. There were a couple of times where they did all the right things, cut to the basket, passed, hit the open man, but the ball did not fall. That is fixable and will come later. C and R were a little leery of the defense. When a Vanguard guard drive by our guards, other Stanford players had trouble picking them up and impeding their path to the basket. Something super all-everything Chiney Ogwumike was very, very good at doing. But it is still early…. And preseason.

Looking forward to more.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

One Week to Stanford Basketball

So it is one week until we get a Stanford Women’s basketball preview. Stanford opens its exhibition season against Vanguard. Many, many questions are floating around this year’s team. This will be the first time in six years without an Ogwumike, so how will Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer adjust?

Much has been made by the surprise announcement that VanDerveer is scrapping her beloved triangle offense in favor of screens. She made her point with a classic “Tara-ism” telling anyone over 6’3 that “their new middle name is screen.” She says she wants to free up senior guard Amber Orrange and soph guard Lili (Lee-Lee) Thompson.

Still, the Pac-12 coaches picked Stanford to win the conference (which C and R thought for sure Cal would have a lock on the preseason vote). The coaches claimed they weren’t fooled by the “we don’t have an Ogwumike or a returning All-America” and “we are playing a whole new offense.”

Stanford also adds some talented freshmen. Two are guards, Taylor Rooks and Brittany McPhee and forward Kaylee Johnson. Not to be confused with now sophomore Kailee Johnson, or Karlee Samuelson for that matter. Don’t know much about them but will probably get a good look against little ol Vanguard.

Sue Favor of “They’re Playing Basketball gave a great in-depth preview of Stanford. Quoting:

“Whether or not the Cardinal will stay atop the conference depends upon who, if anyone, will step up. Orrange has shown quiet leadership since her freshman year, and Thompson is promising because of her youth. Samuelson will likely be made a starter with them. But all three will have to increase their production substantially, as teams who survive significant player losses do so when others fill in the gaps.”

See the full article here:

See some fun with the Stanford “Dunk” contest (on a small basket). Love the playfulness of the team already. Hope they can keep it up (and Stnaford winning ways) for the season.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stanford Basketball Alums in the News

Before the 2015 Stanford Women’s Basketball Season starts, (or as C and R call it, the era after the Ogwumikes), we wanted to highlight some notable accomplishments of Stanford basketball alums. Well, as it so happens, we wanted to honor two of them, both with the last name Ogwumike.

Okay, not that we want to exclude anyone, but older sister Nneka and younger Chiney have been on a rocket ship of a ride. And it’s funny, because younger sister Chiney has always followed in Nneka’s footsteps.

Chiney followed her to Stanford, where the sisters were an unstoppable dynamic duo who had court ESP and always knew where the other was, or were rebounding each other’s misses. They also took Stanford to two Final Fours together, and in Nneka’s case, two before Chiney and Chiney got one more after Nneka graduated.

In Nneka’s senior year, she worked on the transition to the WNBA, working on an outside shot and playing away from the basket. She was the number one pick in the WNBA and won rookie of the year honors.
Chiney also followed that blueprint, working on scoring away from the basket (although her jump shot is a little flat and not all there). Her hard work rewarded her with the number one pick in the WNBA, the first sisters to accomplish that in the WNBA, and the second pair of siblings since Peyton and Eli Manning did it in the NFL. Oh, they also were the first sisters to play in the same WNBA All Star game. And they ended up guarding each other!

So it is no surprise that Chiney also won Rookie of the Year honors. C and R just want to point out that…well, that is so hard to do! She was just a few weeks out of Stanford when she reported to the Connecticut Sun in the wake pf Tina Charles demanding a trade (Ciney had to get special permission to miss a game to attend the Stanford graduation ceremony.) In just four short months she was selected for the All-Star game and kept up against the best in the world to win Rookie of the Year barely six months removed from college. That is so tremendous.

So Nneka didn’t take the time after the WNBA. In fact, both Nneka and Chiney were invited to the Team USA training camp to try out for the World Championship team. Alas, only Nneka was chosen (Chiney’s day will come), and she helped Team USA win the Gold Medal in the Worlds that was held in Turkey.

Not a bad few months for these two Stanford alums.

Looking forward to 2014-15 season and seeing who will make history.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

WNBA All-Star Sister Weekend

Back in April when Chiney Ogwumike was drafted number one by the Connecticut Sun, she and her sister, Nneka Ogwumike made history. They were the first pair of siblings in the WNBA to be drafted number one. Heck, let’s take that a step further to show how rare that is. The feat has only been accomplished one other time in any major sport, men’s or women’s, when Peyton and Eli Manning did it in football. And that is some great company!

So leave it to the intrepid Ogwumike sisters to make history again when they became the first pair of sisters to be chosen to participate in the WNBA All-Star game. Granted, both go in as reserves, but it is still a pretty cool feat. And not even Nneka can say she got the All-Star nod her rookie season, as Chiney has done. Nneka had to wait a year, when she went for the first time last year. This is her second nod.

The sisters also made personal history when they played against each other July 15th of this year. In the sisters' first WNBA meeting, Nneka scored 24 points and got the win, while Chiney contributed 18 points in the loss.
Nneka V Chiney Ogwumike

Why is that noteworthy, their first time playing against each other? The famous story around the Stanford campus is that the two did not play each other in practice. Well, they did in an early practice in Chiney’s freshmen year, when Nneka was the wise junior. Chiney elbowed Nneka, the story goes, and Nneka threatened revenge, so Chiney excused herself to stand by coach. And that’s when Stanford Women’s Basketball coach Tara VanDerveer said that’s it, you two will never be on opposite sides. And they weren’t. Whether on the court or off it. Each is the others biggest cheerleader.

So the all-star game, while sharing the pre-game stuff together, will mark the second time they have to play each other. The third time will be when Chiney’ Sun goes to LA in August.
While the All-Star game is fun to watch the best of the best, when the sisters play each other, it is so conflicting to C and R. Who to root for? Although we all know West side is the best side.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Looking Back at Stanford’s Season

Even though summer is just starting, C and R would be remiss if we did not have a recap of The Stanford Women’s Basketball 2013-14 season (more from the official Stanford site). And 2013 started out the year of “13.” Or say we say the year of Chiney Ogwumike. Chiney Ogwumike took the team on her back and propelled them to the Final Four, their sixth appearance in seven years. Unfortunately they had a date with UConn and lost in the semis, but it was a great ride.

Stanford’s overall record was 33-4. Notable wins included Tennessee (for the third straight season) and both times against Cal in a week. They won the Pac-12 regular-season title, for the 14th time in a row. They did lose in the semis of the Pac-12 tourney to eventual winner USC, thus earning them a number 2 seed in the NCAA tourney. You can read a year in review for the Pac-12.

Chiney Ogwumike had some help. A pleasant surprise was freshmen guard Lili Thompson. Her aggressiveness and confidence also rubbed off on junior guard Amber Orrrrange and she upped her game as well. Another pleasant surprise of the season was the return of fifth year veteran Mikalea Ruef. She has her best year and peaked during the NCAA regional finals, ultimately being named the MVP of the region over buddy Chiney.

And what can we say about Chiney? Well, a lot actually, so here goes:
She led Stanford to three Final Fours during four year career. Her senior season, she was unanimous All-American, named the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year, (the nation’s top academic honor and first from Stanford) was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Team for the second straight year  annnnnnnddddddd….was awarded the  John R. Wooden Award winner as the national player of the year,  She became the first Stanford and Pac-12 women’s basketball player to claim the John R. Wooden Award.

As for the Pac-12 conference Awards, she leaves as one of the most decorated players in the history of the Pac-12. She now holds the Pac-12 all-time scoring and rebounding record, while claiming eight single-season or career records including tying the scoring average record, a mark set in 1989. She scored 2,737 points, besting fellow alum Candice Wiggins and grabbed 1,567 rebounds, besting fellow alum Kayla Pedersen, in addition to setting the single-season conference record for points scored at 967, passing fellow alum and her sister, Nneka Ogwumike. She swept the Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards for the second straight season, with the defensive honor being her third in a row. That makes her a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, three-time Defensive Player of the Year and four-time all-Conference. No one, man or woman has ever won the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive player of the year award, and she has done it twice! Lastly, she set a record for being named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the ninth time this season and the 18th time in her career.

She finished the season as the only player to rank in the national top 10 in scoring (26.1 ppg - fourth), rebounding (12.1 rpg - ninth), field-goal percentage (60.1 - fourth), and double-doubles (27 - third).
After being named to every major award’s preseason watch list as well as to every preseason All-America Team, Ogwumike went on to a season in which she averaged 26.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game while shooting 60.1 percent from the field. Those numbers helped Ogwumike earn her second straight selections to the ESPN, USBWA, John R. Wooden Award, and Associated Press First Teams, with the AP nod being her third overall after being named to the second team in 2012.  Additionally, Ogwumike was honored at the Final Four in Nashville by being named to the WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team for the third straight season, joining Candice Wiggins (2005-08), Nneka Ogwumike (2010-12) and Nicole Powell (2002-04) as Stanford’s only three-time WBCA All-Americans. She was honored by the Stanford Alumni Association as one of two graduating seniors to receive the 2014 J.E. Wallace Sterling Award for outstanding service to Stanford.

She also had wrote the lyrics to this song:

Coach Tara Vanderveer got her 900th career victory this season, and in her understated style, no one got to see it, which was fine by her. The win came at the Puerto Vallarta gave tourney that clearly was not ready for prime time. No televised games, or even videotaped for later. Official score keepers and statistician  had to be borrowed from the teams. She now stands alongside legends Pat Summitt, Sylvia Hatchell, C. Vivian Stringer and Jody Conradt in the exclusive 900 club.

The pinnacle of the season was Stanford clinching their trip to the final four at Maples Pavilion and getting to see their inspiring win in person. C and R are still smiling. What will next year hold?

Season tickets are now on sale!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Look Back at Stanford Draft Day

Hey hey, two Stanford, basketball players, or should we say former players were drafted by the WNBA. It was not surprise that Chiney Ogwumike was drafted number one by the, dare we say it, Connecticut Sun. She and sister Nneka join Peyton and Eli Manning as the only two siblings in pro sports to be drafted #1. Cool. Hope Chiney does as well as Nneka, who won rookie of the year her first year. Although it will be the first time they have ever played on opposing teams.

Chiney Ogwumike, Mikaela Ruef
Chiney Ogwumike, front right, hugs forward Mikaela Ruef after Stanford defeated Nortth Carolina in a regional final of the NCAA's (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The other former Stanford player drafted was Mikaela Ruef. The fifth year senior wasn’t even sure she was coming back or if there would be a scholarship for her, but there was and she grew as the season went on. He career was capped with getting nabbed as the most outstanding player in the regional NCAA’s. Everyone assumes it would be all everything Chiney Ogwumike. That helped her stock and Ruefie as drafted 31st by the Seattle Storm. Good news for her, she is reunited with bestie and former Stanford alum Joslyn Tinkle (remember tinkle bells?) Going to a team with a friendly face was a good thing because she has a million questions about how to be a pro.

To quote the Stanford official site: Ruef is the 23rd Stanford player to be selected in the WNBA Draft (Chiney was 22nd). Ruef’s and Ogwumike’s selections give Stanford multiple picks in a single WNBA Draft for the seventh time (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2014), and the first since Kayla Pedersen (seventh, Tulsa Shock) and Jeanette Pohlen (ninth, Indiana Fever) both went in the 2011 first round.

Looking forward to following the summer!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stanford Gets the Same Results Against UConn

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With Stanford going to the Final Four six times in seven years and coming up empty handed, you could call head coach Tara Vanderveer Insane… or insane like a fox. (I don’t know, I am mixing my metaphors.) So when Stanford played #1 UConn in November and “only” lost by 19, Tara also expected a different result when she met them again in the Final Four in April. It was the same 19-point margin of victory. Just insane.

Not very many people thought Stanford would even make it to the Final Four this year. They lost in the Sweet Sixteen last year with much of the same cast, and didn’t even get the number one seed in their region. Just getting to the Final Four this year, with the parties, the red carpets, the autograph signing sessions and the line dancing, was a huge victory for Stanford. Too bad they had to meet #1 UConn in the Final Four.

Yes, yes Tara was playing to win. She is the master of scouting other teams and finding an exploiting their weaknesses, and figuring out who is the worst shooter and then not guard her. Turns out, UConn doesn’t have many weaknesses to exploit.

Chiney Ogwumike
Chiney Ogwumike dives for a loose ball over Stephaine Dolson. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

And hats off to UConn. Their defense won this game for them. They started out cold, offensively. Stanford had the lead for 12 and a half minutes in the first half, the longest time any opponent had the lead all year against UConn. But UConn’s defense took away All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike. Stanford thought they had an answer for that, in their outside shooting. Turns out UConn knows how to scout, too. UConn took away Stanford’s three ball. They guarded the perimeter so Stanford three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson, with the quick release, could not get a good shot off. Coupled with the fact Stanford cold not penetrate on the drive and it was game over.

Right around the last few minutes if the first half, UConn went on a 12-0 run and took the lead back for good. At the half it was 24-28. The good news was UConn’s shooter, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had zero points at the half. The bad news is Chiney Ogwumike only had four.

UConn would go on a 20-5 run spanning both halves. UConn came out in the second and before you could blink it Huskies led 44-27. The lone three points in that period was inside player Chiney Ogwumike hitting a outside three. And that is not a good game plan. UConn took away what Chiney does best, inside points and rebounds. And Stanford’s outside shooters went 6-25 from three-point territory. Add 13 Stanford turnovers and it was not a pretty game for Stanford.

Chiney did not try much inside in the first half, and consequently, Stanford did not shoot any free throws in the first. Stanford drove more in the second half and did pick up some fouls, but it was too little, too late. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored all of her 15 points in the second half. The truth of the matter was Stanford could not get stops and did not trade baskets.

Although Chiney would score 15 points and 10 rebounds for her 27th double-double of the year, eight of those 15 points came after UConn had already established a solid double-digit lead. POY Breanna Stewart helped hold Stanford's All-American to just 5-of-12 shooting.

More Box Score:
-Amber Orrange had16 points to lead three Stanford players in double figures.
-Lili Thompson chipped in with 12 points for Stanford, although ten were in the first half.

Still, congratulations to Stanford on a great, great season. So much effort and intensity and emotion. And no, C and R don’t think Tara VanDerveer is insane. We think she is genius. To go to six Final Fours in seven years means you are consistently doing something right.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Stanford Beats North Carolina, Back in the Final Four

There is a cheer the Stanford band does. Two X plus 4, where X is your score. It is a brainiac cheer. It would be chanted, for example, when one team has 9 points and the other team has 22 points. Two times 9 is 18, add four and you get 22. It is pointing out that the team with 22 has more than doubled your score, and it rhymes. The band has used it against many, many Stanford opponents over the years. C and R have never, ever seen it used against Stanford. Cue a dark and stormy night at Maples.

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team was playing North Carolina in the Elite Eight with the winner going on to the Final Four. As C and R mentioned, it was raining outside, and raining threes inside Maples. Just it was North Carolina making it rain. They popped 5 of 6 threes early in the first half, Stanford had four straight turnovers, and before you could dry off, it was 9 to 22 with 12:46 left in the first half (Two X plus four indeed!).

To Stanford’s credit, they did not panic. UNC did their job and was taking All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike out of the game. They were double and triple teaming her in the paint and not letting her get an offensive rebound. She was not touching the ball.

Stanford responded by hitting some threes of their own. By the end of the half, both teams combined for 15 made threes. Seven for UNC, eight for Stanford. Stanford was lucky to be down only 30-36. And they were hoping and praying UNC could not keep making those threes, or else head coach Tara Vanderveer told her team to guard the 3-point line. Either way, UNC only made two more 3-pointers in the second half.

Give an assist to older sister Nneka Ogwumike giving Chiney a pep talk at the half, too. Also keeping Stanford in the game was Mikaela Ruef, the fifth year senior who did not want to remember last year’s loss in the Sweet Sixteen. She hit three 3-pointers, a career high. She has never hit more than one in a game before. Before this game, her career total for threes was seven for all five years. She scored a career high 17 and grabbed nine rebounds.

With Stanford hitting threes, UNC came out on the perimeter and left Chiney Ogwumike alone one-on-one in the paint. And what, Stanford fans, do C and R say when they leave Chiney alone one-on-one in the paint? Chin-nay all day. That was the turning point. Chiney Ogwumike scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, and added 10 rebounds for her 26th double-double of the year. Mikaela Ruef does the things not noticed in the box score. Someone must have noticed, though because she was awarded the regional MVP. A shocker it was not Chiney, but we are sure Chiney does not mind Ruefie picking up some hardware.

Mikaela Ruef
Mikaela Ruef, regional MVP
(Photo: Don Feria/ )

Stanford had five players in double figures, and when has that happened? Never? Amber Orrange scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half to help Stanford stay close. Bonnie Samuelson made three 3-pointers for 13 points off the bench. Freshman  Lili Thompson, who doesn’t play like a freshman, scored ten points.

Lili only scored ten because she had her hands full guarding UNC’s shining freshmen Diamond Deshields (get it, shining). Diamond was limited to 13 points (she averages about 19) and only made one three pointer. To be fair, she was injured with a sprained ankle, knee and wrist and you could tell she was bothered. She said her ankle was hurting in warm-ups but like a warrior, did not want to miss this game. She has a very accurate pull up jumper, but clearly the ankle was affecting her. We have not seen the last of that Freshman.

The lead see-sawed back and forth and it was a one-point game with 1:48 left and a three-point lead for Stanford with 22 seconds left when Bonnie (Miss Automatic) was fouled. She made both of them and Chiney added two free throws and Amber a lay up and Stanford would hold on to win 74-65. The score was not indicative of how close this game was.

Don’t know if we have ever seen Stanford come back from so far down. All those Pac-12 blowouts didn’t help them prepare. But we have Chiney Ogwumike (and Mikalea Ruef), and a supporting cast that did their role jobs well. Stanford going to the Final Four. Let’s just enjoy this before we look to see whom Stanford is playing (Hint: It’s UConn).

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stanford in the Elite Eight

By now, everyone has heard the story of the Penn state coaches hanging out with Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer in the offseason to pick her brain on the triangle offense. Guess Tara forgot to show them the back door option.

Stanford played their best ball in a long, long time. Perhaps the long season wore on them, but the last quarter of the Pac-12 season was a little lackluster. Not today. And not when playing in Maples.

Penn State and the Stanford Women’s Basketball team were playing in the Sweet Sixteen, held on Stanford’s home court. Much has been written about having neutral sites, but the truth is fans don’t come out if their home team is not playing, the site loses a lot of money, and a lot of empty seats happen. So while this is an inelegant solution, the powers that be are still scratching their heads on how to make this better.

Penn State came out powerful and athletic, and kept it close for about half of the first half. Then Stanford got hot, All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike got going, and Stanford played shutdown defense. Stanford outscored Penn State 25-7 to end the half and held Penn State without a field goal for nearly six and a half minutes.

Bonnie Samuelson, Mikaela Ruef, Lili Thompson
Bonnie Samuelson, Mikaela Ruef and Lili Thompson play good D on Lucas (Photo Courtesy of Kelley L Cox )
Stanford’s Lili Thompson got the assignment to guard Penn State’s great scorer, Maggie Lucus. She averages about 21 points a game. Lili held her to 6 points in the fist half. And for the game? Six points. That’s right they shut her down in the second half. Lucas was scoreless. Tied her career low, too. She was 3-for-14 from the floor, including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. Her last points were nine and a half minutes left in the first. Wowsa! 

Penn State set screens, and even double screens, to try to free up their outside shooter Lucas, but nobody prepares for a game like Tara Vanderveer. Stanford knew the screens were coming and either got over them or switched personal on her so she never got an open look.

Shout out to Mikeala Ruef. Ruefie helped on a lot of those switches on Lucas and played intense defense. She also contributed 11 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals. She was one of two Stanford players that got a double-double. The other was that beast Chiney Ogwumike. She had 29 points and 15 rebounds. That marked her 25th double-double of the season, and 83 for her career. Double Wowsa! Amber Orrrrange was second in scoring for Stanford with 18 points.  Lili Thompson and Mikaela Ruef both finished the game with 11 points. That’s four, count-em, four in double figures. Stanford will need that kind of effort from everyone from now on.

Shout out to former Stanford alums Nneka Ogwumike, Jayne Appel, Kayla Pedersen, Lindy Larocque and Sarah Boothe in the house. Noticed Toni Kokenis was sitting in the stands with them. Wonder if it was a NCAA rule she couldn’t be on the bench?

Come back to Maples Tuesday night at 6PM Stanford time when they take on North Carolina (Oh yeah, number one seed South Carolina didn’t even make it to the elite eight, go figure).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stanford in Sweet Sixteen

Give credit to Florida State University. They had a definite game plan on defense that gave Stanford trouble. But credit Hall of Fame and Olympic coach Tara VanDerveer with a better defensive game plan, even if her assistants all thought she was crazy.

To recap, the Stanford Women’s Basketball team was playing Florida State for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen that just happens top be held at Maples in PA CA (Palo Alto, California) and is Stanford’s home court.

A very athletic Florida State came out in what is called a pressure half zone. Around the three-point perimeter. Stanford couldn’t get the ball inside to all-everything Chiney Ogwumike and Stanford certainly couldn’t get open for a three. And oh, they were committing turnovers left and right that were resulting in easy scores for FSU. Soon Stanford was down 14-6.

Then Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said, let’s go to a standard 2-3 zone even though we have lived on playing man-to-man all year long. Well, we don’t know what she said exactly, but the Associated Pres reported that her assistants wanted to say in man and Tara insisted on the little used zone. Guess what, she outranked them.

Chiney Ogwumike
Stanford traps a Cheetah
(Photo: Associated Press )

Then Stanford went on 26-2 run to end the half 32-16. Really, it was a 30-2 run if you count the start of the second. FSU was held scoreless for nine and a half minutes in the first. Still not impressed? FSU only scored ONE basket in the final 12 and a half minutes. FSU was 7-28 in the first, missing 20 of 22 shots to end the period. Chalk that up to good Stanford defense and a coach who knows to stick to her guns when she is right.

Stanford’s unsung hero of the season, Mikaela Ruef, was matched up with FSU high scoring post player, Natasha Howard, even when in the zone. She was held scoreless in the first and scored her first basket of the game with 17 minutes left in the second. Howard ended up with nine points for the game, usually averaging 21.

Speaking of Ruef, she banged her head last game and was held out as a precaution. This game, she wanted it. She was diving after balls, taking charges and hitting the deck often and with abandon. She scored eight and grabbed seven tough boards.

Stanford’s leading scorer, Chiney Ogwumike, did not disappoint when she was left one on one, or alone under FSU’s basket. She had 21 points and nine rebounds. She also got help from her supporting cast. Freshman guard Lili Thompson added 14 points and Bonnie Samuelson had 11 with three 3-pointers (she even made a rare two). Team-wise, Stanford had 17 assists on 22 field goals. Now that’s good teamwork.

See everyone back at Maples on Sunday and Tuesday, rain or shine.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stanford Beats South Dakota, Advances

Well round one is done and in the books. The Stanford Women’s Basketball team with the #2 seed, beat #15 seed South Dakota 81-62 to advance to the round of 32 (which needs a cute nickname). One more win puts them back in the familiar territory of Maples for the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.

Stanford’s all everything Chiney Ogwumike scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. For Stanford to do well, she needs her supporting cast to help her. She did get some help from her starting guards. Amber Orrrrange had 10 points and nine assists and freshman Lili Thompson, playing in her first NCAA tournament game, added 11 points. Bench player and three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson scored 18 points, all of them threes.
Chiney Ogwumike
Chiney Ogwumike helps Stanford to a first round victory
(Photo: Associated Press )

Things you won’t see in the box score:
  • With her first basket of the game, Chiney set the Pac-12 record for scoring. Then she fought for an offensive rebound and put it back up in traffic. She also holds the Pac-12 record for rebounding, too. In case you are wondering who she passed for the scoring record, it was former Stanford great Candice Wiggins (Still a Sentimental fave). Chiney now has 2,652 points and counting. 
  • Fifth year senior Mikaela Ruef went to the floor hard and hit her head on the court with five minutes left in the first half. She did not return. She was shown on the bench looking lucid and cheering. Hope there is not a concussion and she can play on Monday. 
  • Sara James, in a rare display of emotion, got a technical foul. Refs were not calling much contact during this game and when she was whistled for a foul that she thought should have been on South Dakota, she slammed the ball in frustration. She got T’ed up. 
  • Stanford did a good job defensively on South Dakota except for Australian guard Nicole Seekamp. She scored 22 points. Can't let the other team's star score.
  • Lili had to play with three fouls from early on in the second half. The freshie will need to play smarter and avoid foul trouble in the coming games. 
  • Amber Orrange’s great pass to an open Chiney all alone under the basket on a fast break. Awesome. 
  • Bonnie's threes…well you can get that in a box score but still...Bonnie matched her career high with six 3-pointers. All her points came off of threes. 
Next up is Florida State, which knocked off Iowa State. Could be a blessing in disguise, as Stanford would have had to play Iowa on their home floor. But then again, FSU might be pretty physical for Stanford.

The really bad news is that the game is set for Monday and might be on during work hours here on the Pacific Coast. Might have to BYOD. Bring your own device to work to watch Stanford.

Only five more games to go…

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Stanford Upset by USC in Pac-12 Tourney

For the first time in the history of the Pac-12 Women’ Basketball tournament, the championship game will not include a Stanford team. Stanford fell to USC 72-68 in the semis of the Pac-12 Tournament.

Stanford Loses to USC
Stanford Loses to USC in the Pac-12 Tourney
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Other records that fell:
First time in 13-year history of the Pac-12 Tourney, no Stanford in the finals.
Stanford had not lost a conference tournament game since 2006.
(And will this affect their NCAA seeding?)

How maddening was this game?
  • Stanford held USC’s best player center Cassie Harberts to three points all game, until she scored 10 straight points in the final three minutes.
  • Cassie Harberts even fouled out with 23 seconds left but Stanford could not take advantage.
  • Mikaela Ruef was held scoreless for the first time in a long time, and her extra points could have helped.
  • Stanford was up by as much as six points in the second, but this time could not close the door.
  • Stanford shot 28% from the 3-point line (4-14) and USC was 50% (8-16). At one point they were shooting 60% from behind the arc.
  • Chiney Ogwumike scored 30 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to break her sister Nneka’s Pac-12 Tournament record of seven double-doubles, yet USC held Ogwumike scoreless over the final seven minutes. To make it worse, she tied Candice Wiggins’ school and Pac-12 career scoring record of 2,629 points, but she could not get that last bucket to pull ahead. Story of the game.
  • Guards Lili Thompson and Amber Orrange scored 13 and 11 points, Bonnie Samuelson added nine but Stanford only got five points from their bench. Taylor Greenfield scored all five, so only one bench player scored.
  • Stanford got it within two twice in the final minutes and had a chance to tie when the score was 71-68, but Stanford could not find their three point shooters and with time running down, only Chiney Ogwumike was able to shoot the 3-pointer with about two seconds left. It missed and game over. No bashing of Chiney, just other Stanford players could not get open or get the ball to the right people when it counted. 
Keep your heads up Stanford. Playing two games in two days without a strong bench is hard. Learn from your mistakes and get ready for the NCAA tournament. More adversity is coming your way, C and R know you will step up.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Stanford Survives, Beats Colorado

This was an ugly game. The only consolidation was the score, with The Stanford Women’s Basketball team putting together a better second half then the first, beating Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal by a score of 69-54 Stanford is lucky, though, every team so far (Utah Oregon still playing) that had the bye started out slow, and everyone lost except for Stanford (and what is with the 12 noon start?)

Chiney Ogwumike and Mikaela Ruef
Chiney Ogwumike,and Mikaela Ruef battle with Colorado (Ted S. Warren - AP Photo)
How ugly was it? Stanford was losing at the half and had a season-low 21 points in the first. That’s right. Usually Chiney Ogwumike has 25 points by half time. She was double-teamed virtually every time she touched the ball in the post, and was held to five-first half points. Good thing Colorado only had 23 points at the half. Both teams shot poorly in the first, Stanford at 24% and Colorado at 27%. Stanford only made one of ten 3-pointers in the first, too and went 6-19 for the game. They will need to step up that percentage.

The play of the game that started the rally in the second half? Probably Chiney Ogwumike’s three! LOL! That’s right ,the inside player got her third three of the year (her career?) and gave them the lead at 30-28. Stanford went on a 16-2 run and never looked back.

Spark plug of the game: Lili Thompson. She scored the next eight points for Stanford during that huge run after Chiney’s three, including a fallaway prayer while being fouled. The basket went in and so did the free throw, and everything went Stanford’s way.

Defensive spark plug was Alex Green, who came of the bench and got some key stops.

Colorado had confidence they could win, which helped them stay in the game in the first. They were also physical, which hurt them in the second. They committed 28 fouls, the most by an opponent all year. The foul shot difference was huge. Colorado made 6 of 9 free throws, and Stanford made 21 of 30 attempts.

For starting out so slowly, Stanford had four players in double figures, and two players in double-double figures. Chiney Ogwumike had 19 points, 11 rebounds and Mikaela Ruef had 10 points, 16 rebounds. Freshie Lili Thompson added 16 points with two made threes and Bonnie Samuelson had 15 points and three made threes. Chiney recorded her seventh career double-double in Pac-12 tournament play, tying the record. Who is that record holder? None other than older sister Nneka Ogwumike, who we should see in the Pac-12 studios starting Saturday.

Pac-12 note: Chiney Ogwumike’s 19 points increased her career scoring total to 2,599, bringing her to 31 points away from breaking Candice Wiggins’ Pac-12 record of 2,629. AND Chiney’s 11 rebounds brought her Pac-12-leading career rebounding total to 1,494. All kinda crazy records in this hear Pac-12 tourney.

Next: Stanford plays USC at 6 PM Saturday on the Pac-12 channel.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stanford Shines in Senior Night

Senior Night for the Stanford Women’s Basketball team is always emotional. Some get overwhelmed emotionally. Some cry. Some feed off the energy and family in attendance and set a new career high during the game. That someone is Chiney Ogwumike.
Stanford Seniors
Stanford Seniors! Sara James, Mikaela Ruef, Toni Kokenis, Chiney Ogwumike (Photo courtesy of Pac-12 Networks )
A few years ago, Stanford broke with tradition of having the senior ceremony right before the actual game, due to several players being overcome with emotion and then not playing very good basketball. So after Stanford beat Washington by a score of 84 to 64 and officially won the Pac-12 regular season title, Stanford fans stayed behind and the players and families were introduced, speeches were made, and yes, tears were shed. But not from one Chiney Ogwumike. She said she wouldn’t cry, she is too happy, too happy for her four years at Stanford and all the rich and varied experiences it has brought her.

Chiney was honored along with Sara James (must be called Sejjie we learned), Mikaela Ruef, who is a fifth year senior and went through this last year as she was not sure if she was coming back, and Toni Kokenis. Toni retired last year after repeated concussions, yet choose to stay with the team and attend every practice and game even though she could no longer participate. Of course someone asked if she missed the game. The emotional answer was yes.

A big shout out to Mama Ogwumike for an eloquent speech on how thankful she has been for the Stanford family and how they had embraced her daughters. Yes, you can’t talk about Chiney Ogwumike’s Stanford career without mentioning older sister Nneka Ogwumike, who had a stellar Stanford collegiate career and was the number one draft pick in the WNBA and went on to win rookie of the year (and that last year with Nneka as a senior and Chiney as a sophomore was a thing of remarkable beauty to watch unfold). But Mrs. Ogwumike said when it is all said and done, it is the relationships that have been built that will be remembered and treasured forever. Dad Peter was reluctantly prodded into speaking too, and his booming voice showed where Chiney gets her heart and passion for playing. Don’t you want to be adopted by the Ogwumikes?

So in the game, as we mentioned, Chiney scored a career high and Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer let her, meaning she kept her in long enough to get number 37, a point over her old record before Tara took her out for a rousing standing ovation with two minutes left. And truthfully, Stanford needed her points AND her defense. Washington State was not going away, despite being down all game. They have two really good guards in Lia and Tia who did not give up, and really took it to the basket. I am sure WSU and the entire Pac-12 nation is glad Chiney is a senior.

More game facts:
Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike scored a career-high 37 points with 13 rebounds for her 13th 30-point game and 22nd double-double of the season. She scored 21 of those points in the first half. Chiney Ogwumike’s 37 points increased her career scoring total to 2,580, bringing her to 50 points away from breaking Candice Wiggins’ Pac-12 record of 2,629 career points. Chiney already has the Pac-12 career rebounding record, so every rebound builds the record. She currently stands at 1,483.

Junior point guard Amber Orrange scored 20 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists. She came just two points and one rebound shy of her respective career highs.

Junior forward Bonnie Samuelson scored 10 points for her fourth double-digit scoring performance over the past five games. She hit two 3-pointers in the game.

Speedy Freshie Briana Roberson continues her energetic play, scoring eight, which I believe ties her career high.

One disturbing trend, Stanford was 4-23 for 3-pointers. When teams key on inside player Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford must make outside shots to open things up and have a more balanced scoring attack. This will be imperative in the NCAA tournament, especially if Stanford wants to come back to Maples for the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.

Stanford is the 14-time Pac-12 champion and the No. 1 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament for the 13th time this year. They get a bye in Seattle and will start in the quarterfinals, facing the winner of Thursday night’s UCLA-Colorado first-round contest.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Stanford Whips Washington

This was supposed to be the grudge match. The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team needed to avenge its only Pac-12 loss vs. Washington, and since Washington was coming to Stanford’s house, no way were they going to let a loss happen again.

One thing you will get after beating a Tara VanDerveer team: the opposite game. Last game, against Washington’s zone, Stanford was nine for 41 on threes or made just 21% of them. This game Washington stayed in the zone and Stanford shot 37% from behind the line, going nine for 24. Last game most of the threes came in the final two minutes when Stanford was furiously attempting a comeback that would end short. This game most of the threes came during runs of 11-0 during the first half and a on a 16-4 run to open the second and Stanford built a 30 point lead and never looked back.

Last game Stanford played uninspired defense that let probable Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year Kelsey Plum get 23 points. This game, well Plum got 21 but Stanford held her in check the first half and frustrated her all night. Stanford also held Washington scoreless for over six minutes in the first.

Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike
Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike
Chiney Ogwumike gets interviewed by sister Nneka, then turns the tables (photos courtesy of C and R's smart phones!)
But one thing is a constant in a Stanford Women’s Basketball game this year and that is the play of senior Chiney Ogwumike, who knows her time is finite. Plus older sis ands WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike was in the house and we know how inspired Chiney can get when Nneka is on or near the court to her.

Last game Chiney had trouble scoring against Washington’s zone, and true to form, they doubled her most of the night. Chiney still scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for her 21st double-double of the season. She scored 21 points in the first half, leading Stanford to a 45-32 lead at half time. Chiney was four points shy of tying her career high. She also increased her career scoring total to 2,543, leaving her 87 shy of breaking former Stanford star Candice Wiggins' Pac-12 record.

Bonnie Samuelson added 14 points for Stanford, making four of seven from behind the three-point line. Freshie Lili Thompson had 11 while shooting three of six from behind the line. Fellow guard Amber Orrange added 10 points and four assists. Mikaela Ruef, who grabbed 22 rebounds last game, had a game-high 14 rebounds in this one.

Last game the score was 87-82, with Stanford on the losing end. This game, the score was 83-60. There was no way Stanford was going to let Washington score over 80 points again.

Nneka Ogwumike, who will be commentating for the Pac-12 Networks at the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle, interviewed her sis after the game.

Last regular season game at Maples Saturday, and senior night for Chiney Ogwumike Sara James, Mikalea Ruef (who went through it last year) and Toni Kokenis, a former All-Pac-12 guard whose career ended as a result of concussions last season. Hope to see you there. 
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stanford Starts Slow, Beats UCLA

The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team has a new norm in Pac-12 play. Start slow, let the other team build a lead, take the lead mostly on the back of Chiney Ogwumike, and pull out a win.

The latest victim was UCLA, which Stanford beat65-56 at Pauley Pavilion. Can you say defensive struggle? Or sloppy play?  UCLA had 18 turnovers and Stanford had 16.

This game Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer shook things up a little regarding the starting line up. Bonnie Samuelson and Briana Roberson made their fist collegiate start. Erica McCall also made her second start of the season. Briana started out well with a three and a drive to the basket. She committed a charge and got subbed out and never really was able to do much afterward.

And when Stanford fell slightly behind, some of the regulars such as Mikeala Ruef and Taylor Greenfield came in. It was also good to see regular starting guard Lili Thompson come into the game after missing last game with an ankle injury.

Chiney Ogwumike
Chiney Ogwumike, right, drives past UCLA (Ringo H.W. Chiu - AP Photo)
UCLA made all four of their three point attempts and Stanford fell behind early. Stanford’s inside player Chiney Ogwumike was held without a basket for the first ten minutes. But her first basket was a beauty; a steal and a break away lay up. Finally, with four and a half minutes left, Bombing Bonnie tied the game with a three, making the score 23 all.

Although Chieny was held to just nine points in the first half, she did score the last six points in the half and Stanford found itself with a four-point lead, 29-25, which they would not relinquish.

The second half opened with the usual starters. That must have felt good because with 14 minutes left in the half and UCLA within two (40-38), Stanford went on a 16-4 run over the next five minutes to build their lead to 14. This was largely due to Chiney Ogwumike and her absolute desire to get to the basket when she catches the ball in the low post.

Chiney ended up with 26 points and 15 rebounds, posted her 20th double-double and 24th 20-point game of the season. She also set a season high with five blocks, just one shy of her career best, and matched her season best with four steals.

BTW, Chiney’s 26 points increased her career scoring total to 2,511, passing older sister Nneka (2,491) for second place on Stanford’s all-time scoring list. Nneka is a good big sis, she probably won’t mind. Chiney is also now 119 points away from breaking Candice Wiggins’ Pac-12 record of 2,629 career points (and she might mind! LOL). (Does the Pac-12 tourney count?)

Mikaela Ruef scored seven and grabbed 11 boards marking her 14th game this year with at least 10 rebounds. Mikaela’s 11 rebounds along with Chiney’s 15 made for the 10th game this season in which each of them pulled down double-digits in boards.

Amber Orrange scored 13 points and had two steals and some speedy lay ups. Bonnie added seven and made one three in her first start.

With this win, Stanford is the outright Pac-12 regular-season champions, and have a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.

Just two more games at home. And Thursdays is a grudge match against Washington!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Stanford Comes Back From 19, Beats USC

So, this was little too close for comfort. I know, wisdom says the Stanford Women’s Basketball Team will learn more from falling behind by 19 and coming back and beating USC by five (64-59) then a huge blow out, but what about C and R’s weak hearts.

The game started with some bad news. Starting Freshie guard Lili Thompson was in a walking boot and the Pac-12 Networks announced she had an ankle sprain. Stanford Head Coach Tara Vanderveer was probably thinking that last game they beat USC by nearly 30, let’s try out some other people in Lili’role. The bad news was Stanford didn’t have the 30 point lead yet.

USC came out on fire and jacked up some crazy threes that had no business going in. Stanford looked disjointed with a revolving door of players on the floor. They couldn’t get in a rhythm and many tried to force it to inside player Chiney Ogwumike. Bad passes or great USC defense, either way, turnovers galore. Stanford had more turnovers halfway through the first half then they did the entire game the last time these two teams met. Soon it was a 19-point deficit with 6 minutes left in the first.
Chiney Ogwumike and Amber Orrange
Now that's some D! Amber Orrange and Chiney Ogwumike. (Alex Gallarado - AP Photo )

While USC was making all their threes in the first, Stanford was busy missing theirs  (3-11 for the game). Stanford was shooting poorly everywhere, except free throws, and free throws kept them in the game the first half. When the deficit got to 19 with six minutes left to play, Stanford finally woke up and clawed their way back. They stopped USC from hitting those threes (heck, USC didn’t score in the final four minutes of the first) and Bombing Bonnie Samuleson hit a three with seconds left to send Stanford into the locker room only down by seven.

And you can’t keep an Ogwumike down. Chiney came out on fire. She scored 12 of Stanford's first 17 points in the second half. She stole an inbound pass and drove for a basket to tie it at 43-43. She then scored the next two baskets to give Stanford the lead for good.

Chiney contributed 27 points, 18 in the second half. She only had seven rebounds, so no double-double. Unfortunately, USC got many second chance rebounds. They good news for Stanford is they didn’t actually make the second chances.

Bonnie Samuelson added 14 points, made two 3-pointers, and more importantly made all eight of her free throw tries, including four straight free throws in the closing minute. Which was a good thing because USC swished a three with 18 seconds left and was within three (59-62). Bonnie was fouled again and sank the shots for the final score of 64-59. The 19 point deficit tied a Stanford record for largest comeback in a victory.

With the win, Stanford clinched a share of its 14th straight Pac-12 regular season title.They can become the sole champions with either a California loss, or a win on Sunday over the UCLA Bruins. Stnaford secured the Pac-12 Tournament's #1 seed.

It’s Beat LA on Sunday, at UCLA.

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