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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