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 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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