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.
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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