Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stanford Closes Out Season with Wins

The Stanford women’s Basketball Team closed out their regular season with two Pac-12 wins. The first one was an emphatic win over #7 Oregon State. And it wasn’t just a win, it was a spanking. Once Stanford took the lead just before the end of the first quarter, they kept it and beat them by 22, the final score being 76-54. At one point Stanford lead by 30!

C and R were in doubt before the game, having just found out that leading scorer Lili Thompson would miss the game to attend her grandfather’s funeral. Brittany McPhee got the start and made the most of it, scoring in double digits. She had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, adding four rebounds and a career-high four assists.

More importantly, she played lock down defense on OSU’s Jamie Weisner. Jamie was held to just four total points and one made field goal. She usually averages 17 points a game. The Stanford team held OSU below their season average, too.

Shout out to Erica McCall. Not only did she score a career-high 25 points, she hit three 3-pointers. Yes, from behind the arc. Before this game she had attempted one 3-pointer, when the shot clock was going to expire. This game she attempted FIVE, and made three! Couple that with Stanford’s three point specialist, Karlie Samuelson leading all players in REBOUNDS with 12, the world definitely has gone topsy-turvy. Karlie scored 13 points to go with her career-high 12 rebounds. She also made three of four 3-pointers. Annnd, her first double-double of her career! What an entertaining game that was. And where has this energy been all season?

Special game? Yes, as it was, as the Cardinal got their 1000th win in its 40-plus year history, moving the program into an elite group of seven schools that have reached the 1,000-victory mark. Current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer is responsible for 824 of them.

The Stanford Team
Stanford Wins 1,000th
Photo courtesy of Stanford Official site.

Speaking of Coach TVD, she knew OSU had a tall, 6’-6 center in Ruth Hamblin. Having Bird (Erica) stay out on the three point line and take threes meant several things. Their center was not used to coming out to guard someone that far away for the basket, so left her open and two, drew the tall rebounder away from the basket. Genius.

Oregon Game:

Speaking of Genius, let’s rinse and repeat for Oregon, says TVD. We were without Lili again, however Oregon was sadly playing without their lead scorer and rebounder, Jillian Alleyne, who tore her ACL in practice this week. It was hard for the Ducks to recover from that blow.
Oregon also has a tall center just like OSU, and Erica stayed out around the three point line, first gaining confidence hitting long twos, and then a three. She would end up with her 15th double-double of the season (by halftime!) and finish with 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Bri Roberson added 10 and Alanna Smith had nine points. Stanford would beat Oregon 69-42.

This game was senior night and it was great to see walk-on Kiran Lakhian get some quality minutes. She made several very nice passes for baskets and scored five.  Seniors Alex Green and Tess Picknell also got in the game and Alex scored a basket, too. It was great to see the whole bench rooting for them.

Lovely ceremony after the game, too. Also great decision years ago to do this after the game, as it gets so emotional. Tears did flow. We learned Kiran plans to go to medical school like her mother and Tess was almost bitten by a rattle snake, and her mother said they shot, cooked and ate the snake. Not sure if she was kidding or not.

With these two wins Stanford is the number four seed going in to the Pac-12 Tournament, which means a first round bye and then playing the winner of Washington/Colorado on Friday. As for the regular season standings, well, C and R are a little confused about where everyone ended up. UCLA upset ASU, so Oregon State and Arizona State tied for first, and Stanford and UCLA tied as well. So are we tied for third, then? Or tied for second if ASU and OSU are co-winners. So confusing.
Well, tune into the Pac-12 tourney next week. Remember last year, when Stanford did not win the regular season but won the tournament? That was awesome! Anything can happen in this year’s deep Pac-12.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Stanford-Cal Battle of the Bay

It’s the middle of the Pac-12 season, so you know what that means, dear readers. The annual Battle of the Bay for the Stanford Women’s Basketball team with arch rival Cal.

Stanford rode Erica McCall’s 11 points (plus 13 boards for her 13 th double double) and Karlie Samuleson’s three-pointers to beat Cal 53-46. Karlie was 4-5 from three-point land.

Stanford hats off to Lili Thompson. She had tape on her shooting hand, holding her fingers together, and it was clear it affected her shooting touch. When her three wasn’t falling, she moved inside to jumpers, when that didn’t work, she started going in for lay ups. And they were not easy shots. She kept herself in the game and found a way to contribute to her team. And although she was 3-15, she chipped in 11 points.

Stanford D also held Cal’s outstanding freshmen, Kristine Anigwe (who reminds C and R an AWFUL lot of an Ogwumike), to 17 points. She usually scores around 20. She had nine in the first quarter, until Stanford stifled her for only eight points over the next three quarters.
Couple that with only seven active players for Cal (injuries, people leaving the program) and it was hard for Cal to bounce back.

So Stanford won the first one, and it was weird, Stanford players did not seem happy with the win, perhaps they knew they did not play well. Their demeanor as they left the court was not one of a jubilant team. They did have 15 turnovers. However, Cal had it worst, only shooting 28% for the game, with 2-11 from three-point land. Would that hold for game two?

The Stanford Team
Lili Thompson looks intense in the Battle of the Bay.
Photo courtesy of Stanford Official site.
Part II
In this one, Stanford players got the green light to drive and go 1 on 1, be selfish and create their own shot, a little different from other games where they pass and pass until they find an open player. Or maybe head coach Tara VanDerveer said only the Johnsons are allowed to score in the first half?

At one point Kaylee Johnson put the ball on the floor and got a layup. Even the Pac-12 announcers noticed, saying she was not shying away from contact around the basket. Then Kailee Johnson got in to the act, and when she put the ball on the floor, Cal was so surprised no one stopped her and she got a layup.

C and R are sorry to report that Lili was cold again. And yes, her fingers were taped again, which affects her shooting touch. Karlie Samuelson got in to foul trouble, picking up three before the first half ended and sat. The most disturbing fact of the first was that Lili and KSam had zero points in the first.

Luckily for the Johnson and Johnson show in the first, with them scoring 10 and 9 points respectively. You have to figure out which is which. However Stanford found themselves down seven, 27-34. Cal kept themselves in the game by out rebounding Stanford, especially on the O boards.

Another interesting tidbit, walk on Kiran Lakhian got in to the game for four minutes in the first. She usually does not play or only goes in the final seconds. With such a deep bench, we wonder why Tara called her number?

Then, the start of the second and everything went sideways for Cal. Stanford, possible fired up from a pep talk/scolding in the locker room went on an 11-0 run. Annnnd, held Cal to four points in the third quarter while scoring 15. Stanford got the lead for the first time and did not let go.

In the fourth, Stanford had 5 players in double figures. Erica McCall had another double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Brittany McPhee had 12 points, and a lot of hustle plays that won’t show up in the stat line. Kaylee Johnson had 11, and Kailee Johnson and Lili Thompson each had 10: Lili’s were all in the second.

Still, Stanford uncharacteristically made many mental mistakes in the last minute to keep Cal around, and it was a frantic finish. Cal’s Courtney Range hit a three with 26 seconds left to make it an exciting 56-53 Stanford lead. However Cal had to foul and Stanford hung on to win 60-55.
Stanford gets its 22nd regular-season sweep of Cal and keeps chugging to get back into the Pac-12 hunt.

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