February 24, 2015

Sadness and salutes on Senior Day

The day started with a festive air as moms and dads of the six seniors on the Stanford women’s basketball team hugged and posed for pictures at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 22.

It ended on two sad notes. First, the team lost to Cal 63-53. Second, the seniors played the final regular home game of their Stanford careers. Fans, their families and their teammates paid tribute to them in a ceremony after the game. (Stanford could host first- and second-round games of the NCAA tournament if it’s at least a four seed.)

But back to the festive part. Several people took advantage of the warm, sunny day to have a tailgate lunch before the 1 p.m. tipoff. More than 5,200 people trooped into Maples for the game, one of the larger crowds this season.

Everyone in the pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Because it was Breast Cancer Awareness Day, many fans were decked out in pink. In honor of the occasion, Harry Payne, father of senior forward Erica Payne, wore the pink tutu that has been passed down from one senior dad to another ever since it was first worn by Jayne Appel’s father in 2010.

The Cal players wore pink uniforms, while the Stanford players’ white uniforms were trimmed in pink. During warmups they wore T-shirts saying, “Together We Fight,” apparently referring to breast cancer.

The Cal band was tucked into the upper corner across from the Stanford band, and a bloc of Cal fans sat below the upper broadcast booth. Cal’s four seniors received flowers from Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer just before tipoff.

The starting lineup featured freshman forward Kaylee Johnson, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson, sophomore guards Karlie Samuelson and Lili Thompson, and senior guard Amber Orrange.

Brittany shines again

Cal got off to a fast start, leading 3-7 at the 15:41 mark. That’s when freshman guard Brittany McPhee, who was so instrumental in the team’s 59-47 victory over Cal at Cal on Feb. 18, got into the game.

She wound up playing 36 minutes, more than any other Cardinal, and scoring a game-high, career-high 24 points. She also had a team-high six rebounds. Based on her play in the two Cal games, she was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the first time on Feb. 23. Kaylee had earned the honor the previous week.

The first half ended with Stanford ahead 29-27, but the Bears outscored the Cardinal 36-24 in the second half.

Turnovers, fouls and rebounds contributed to Stanford’s loss. The team had 17 turnovers, several of them shot-clock violations. Cal had 13 TO’s. Cal outrebounded Stanford 35-31.

The refs called only nine fouls on Cal, while whistling Stanford for 16, with the final ones coming as an effort to get the ball back. Cal made 13 points from its 20 trips to the charity stripe. Brittany got Stanford’s three shots and made two. That’s an 11-point difference, just one more than Cal’s margin of victory.

Cal also made eight of 19 3’s, while Stanford made five of 15. Brittany had two. Bonnie, Amber and Karlie had one each.

The only other Stanford player in double figures was Amber with 11, plus five rebounds, three assists and one steal.

The game’s featured player was sophomore guard Briana Roberson. One of the facts about her displayed on the video board is that she was born on her mother’s birthday.

The trivia question of the day asked what the seniors’ four-year record was to date: 102-35, 121-16 or 112-25. The answer was 121-16. Now it’s 121-17.

Seniors, families take center court

The post-game tribute to the seniors started with a video featuring highlights from each one’s career. Flanked by the rest of the team, each one was individually escorted to center court by her family to receive flowers and a hug from Tara. Guard Jasmine Camp led off with her parents, Keith and Deborah; followed by guard Alex Green with her mother, Linda and an aunt.

Forward Taylor Greenfield was escorted by her parents, Kris and Angie, and Erica was with her father and mother, Laurie. Bonnie was joined by Karlie and the Samuelson parents, Jon and Karen. Amber was with her parents, James and Elexa, her grandmother and sister.

Before the ceremony continued, associate head coach Amy Tucker asked Dave and Marian Cortesi to come to the floor. Dave and Marian have been running the Fast Break Club website for 10 years, but they plan to retire the site after the season unless someone comes forward to replace them. Jasmine and Erica then gave them a basketball autographed by the coaches and a bag with two Stanford fleece jackets.

When a fan asked about longtime announcer Betty Ann (Boeving) Hagenau, Amy deferred to Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations. Eileen said that Betty Ann is still recuperating at home from a serious bicycle accident, but that she appreciates the fans’ good wishes.

Then came the only comment about the game, when Amy said, “That was a tough one. It doesn’t reflect the season that we’ve had.” She added, “Brittany had a grand game.”

Speaking for the team, Lili thanked the seniors for all they’ve done and said, “We love you all.”

Seniors thank fans, praise teammates

“It goes really fast,” Tara said before each senior had a chance to speak. All six of them expressed their love for their teammates and thanked the fans for their support. Taylor’s comment was typical. “Thanks for sticking with the senior class for four years,” she said.

Taylor, a science, technology and society (STS) major, wants to take two years off before going to law school. Her father, Kris, told the crowd that when Taylor started at Stanford, she expected to be a dominant player, just as she was in high school. Then she found out that everyone else had been a dominant player, too. He said she told him, “I can’t even get open.”

Amber, an STS major, hopes to play professionally here or overseas and maybe go to grad school after that. Answering a young fan, she said her favorite thing about basketball is dribbling.

Jasmine, who majors in psychology, is looking for a job and applying for grad school and might eventually go into coaching. Although she has another year of eligibility, she said she doesn’t think she’ll use it. Her advice to a young girl was to “work hard and never lose sight of why you love this game.” One of her main jobs as co-captain, along with classmates Amber and Erica, is “maintaining a solid team,” she said. Her father aptly said of her, “She always fills the room full of life.”

Alex, also an STS major, isn’t sure of her plans. She noted that when she was a freshman, she tore an Achilles tendon. She had to work hard to come back, but “it helps when you have great teammates.” She didn’t say if she would come back for her final year of eligibility.

Human biology major and 3-point shooter Bonnie said to the fans, “I love hearing you guys every time I make a 3.” She added, “We go through so much together (that) you guys don’t see.” She eventually wants to go to med school but might take a year or two off first. She’s not sure if she’ll play professionally.

After a teary-eyed Karlie said, “I really love being here with her,” Bonnie responded, “I’m really going to miss Karlie. I have every confidence that she’s going to be super successful.”

Erica, yet another STS major, told the fans that even though she hasn’t had a lot of playing time, “You guys make me feel like a starter.” Through tears she said to her teammates, “You’re a goofy bunch, and I love you very much.” Unlike her classmates, Erica has definite plans. After graduation, she’s going to work for Deloitte as a consultant. Her mother told me previously that she had an internship with Sunrun Solar during the summer.

Oregon schools next on schedule

Looking ahead, the team travels north for its only meetings with Oregon State at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 and Oregon at 1 p.m. March 1. Its loss to Cal knocked it out of contention for the Pac-12 season championship after winning or sharing it 14 years in a row. However, it has been assured a first-round bye in the conference tournament in Seattle March 5-8. Its first game will be during the quarterfinals March 6.

A personal note: I want to thank Marian and Dave Cortesi for producing a first-rate site for the Fast Break Club. Marian is the one who posts such relevant photos to go with my stories. I also use the site as a valuable source of information for my own fandom.

I’m hoping that someone will be willing to take over as webmaster after the banquet in April. There’s a link for contacting Marian next to her stories for Stories of the Season.

February 21, 2015

Sparking the comeback over Cal

Things didn’t look so good for the Stanford women’s basketball team as it faced a 17-28 deficit with 3:56 to go in the first half against Cal at Haas Pavilion on Feb. 18.

That’s when head coach Tara VanDerveer sent in freshman guard Brittany McPhee. She immediately scored 6 points to cut the deficit to 23-32 when the halftime buzzer sounded.

And that was just the start of a Stanford rally that didn’t just lead to a 59-47 victory. The second half saw defensive and offensive efforts that led to no field goals for Cal during the final 12:59 of the game, leaving Cal with a shooting average of 11.1 percent in the half and 27.3 percent for the game. Only free throws added to Cal’s score as the Bears made a total 13 of 18 for the game, or 72.2 percent.

Meantime, Stanford made seven of nine free throws, or 77.8 percent. The Cardinal shot 48.3 percent in the second half and 45.3 percent for the game.

Brittany wound up playing 22 minutes and scored 9 points to go with six rebounds, one block and one steal, the result of hustle on both ends of the court.

Amber pours in 19 points

Senior guard Amber Orrange had a game-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and one steal in 35 minutes.

Right behind her was sophomore guard Lili Thompson, who had 18 points plus seven rebounds and two assists in just under 40 minutes.

Freshman forward Kaylee Johnson led the team with eight rebounds. She also recorded 5 points, two blocks and a steal in 23 minutes.

Senior forward Bonnie Samuelson, who had lit up Maples with eight 3’s against UCLA in the previous game, had just one plus a basket and free throw for 6 points, but she also had six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 39 minutes. Lili with two and Amber with one accounted for the other 3’s.

Stanford out-rebounds Cal

As a team, the Cardinal out-rebounded Cal 43-27. However, Stanford had 18 turnovers compared with Cal’s 10. The refs called 15 fouls against Stanford and 12 against Cal.

The game had started with Stanford pulling ahead, but Cal began encroaching on the lead, tying the game at 17-17 with just under seven minutes to go in the first half and surging ahead after that.

In her Stories of the Season on this Fast Break Club website, Marian Cortesi has posted a graph that visually reflects the changes in scoring momentum throughout the game.

Starters for the game were Kaylee, Bonnie, Lili, Amber and sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson. All 15 players were available, and 10 got into the game. Cal used only seven players.

Official attendance was 5,039, mostly Cal fans with a few enclaves of red-clad Stanford boosters concentrated mostly behind and across from the Stanford bench. With the loud music, loud band and loud fans, earplugs are definitely in order at Haas.

The Stanford band was late in arriving, filling an upper corner about five minutes after the game started. The Tree cavorted next to the Stanford bench, but the Dollies were stationed at the far end of the court near the Cal basket.

Stanford moves up in Pac-12 standings

The win temporarily moved Stanford into second place in the Pac-12 conference, while Cal dropped to fourth behind Arizona State. Oregon State remained on top.

Cal and Stanford will go at it again in the second round of the Battle of the Bay at 1 p.m. Feb. 22. Fans are urged to wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Because it’s the last regular home game of the season, it’s also Senior Day for Amber, Bonnie, forwards Taylor Greenfield and Erica Payne, and guards Jasmine Camp and Alex Green. They’ll be honored during a Behind the Bench after the game.

There’s a chance that Stanford could host the two first rounds of the NCAA tournament, provided it receives a four seed or higher.

February 17, 2015

Samuelsons’ treys lead the way

Every time a teammate makes a 3-pointer, junior forward/center Tess Picknell jumps up and high-fives the entire Stanford women’s basketball bench.

Tess had her work cut out for her Feb. 15 when the Samuelson sisters contributed a total of 12 3’s to the team’s 68-50 victory over UCLA at Maples. Senior forward Bonnie Samuelson made eight of 12 of her 3-point attempts, while sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson made four of eight. Bonnie’s team-leading 24 points, combined with Karlie’s 14 (second on the team), gave them a combined total of 38 points, 55.8 percent of the Cardinal’s final score.

Stanford started slowly, lagging 14-7 at the 11:12 mark in the first half, but then started to surge, aided greatly by Bonnie’s three 3’s on consecutive possessions in about a minute and a half. The first half ended with Stanford on top, 37-24.

Bonnie hits career high

During a timeout at the 7:56 mark in the second half and with Stanford ahead 60-40, it was announced that Bonnie’s trey just before that was her seventh of the game and a career high. The crowd of 4,270 roared with delight as the video board showed all seven.

By the time she had tossed in her eighth trey, she was tied with Candice Wiggins,’08, and Lindsey Yamasaki, ’02, for the third-most in a Stanford game. Lindsey and Molly Goodenbour, ’93, share the record with nine each.

With a career total of 215 3’s so far, Bonnie ranks third on the list for a Stanford career. The leaders are Candice with 295 and Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, with 268.

Bonnie tied her career high of three blocks, most on the team, and two assists in 37 minutes. Not to be overlooked, she was second on the team in rebounding with six.

Also playing 37 minutes, Karlie added two rebounds and one assist to her stat line.

Kaylee adds 11 to her rebounding total

Freshman forward Kaylee Johnson had 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. This was Kaylee’s 14th game with double-digit rebounds. With a total of 268 so far, she trails only Kayla Pedersen, ’11, who had 329 her freshman year; and Chiney Ogwumike, ’14, who had 281 as a freshman.

Kaylee’s 4-point, 11-rebound performance against UCLA, combined with 9 points and five rebounds against USC two days earlier, resulted in her being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the third time this season. She’s averaging 10.3 rebounds per game. She’s second among the nation’s freshmen and 33rd overall.

As she did in the victory over USC on Feb. 13, head coach Tara VanDerveer altered the starting lineup. Redshirt guard Jasmine Camp and senior forward Erica Payne were added, joining three regulars: senior guard Amber Orrange, Bonnie and Kaylee. Jasmine, Erica and Amber are the team’s co-captains.

Jasmine and Erica played briefly before being replaced by previous starters Lili Thompson and Briana Roberson, both sophomore guards.

Lili adds 12 points, seven assists

Lili was the only other Cardinal in double figures with 12 points. However, she added a season-high seven assists, all of them to a Samuelson for 3 points. She was third on the team with five rebounds and had one steal. Lili was the game’s featured player. In a video for the occasion, she said she’d eventually like to return to Stanford as its athletic director.

As a team, the Cardinal shot 42.6 percent, compared with UCLA’s 36.7 percent. Stanford had the edge in free-throw success, 71.4 percent on 10 of 14 shooting, while UCLA was 66.7 percent with six of nine. Both teams had 15 fouls.

UCLA had the edge in rebounding, 39-36, but the Bruins had 14 turnovers compared with Stanford’s 11. Stanford had four blocks to UCLA’s one. Both teams had four steals.

All 15 players were available, and 11 got into the game.

The trivia question asked which Stanford player won the coveted Wooden Award for best female collegiate player. The choices were Candice; Jayne Appel, ’10; and Chiney. The answer was Chiney.

Agility dogs return to entertain crowd

Halftime entertainment featured a perennial crowd favorite -- agility dogs from Ace Dog Sports. Accompanied by their owners, each of the 10 dogs was supposed to run an obstacle course with hurdles, a slalom and two tunnels. Most of them came close to mastering everything, but a pug got distracted and went to the sidelines to greet the Dollies. A Portuguese water dog decided to take the course backwards.

The two wins over the SoCal schools moved Stanford into a three-way tie with Cal and Arizona State for second in the Pac-12 conference with identical 11-3 conference records. Oregon State leads with a 13-1 Pac-12 record.

Stanford next faces Cal twice, at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at Cal and at 1 p.m. Feb. 22 at Maples. The latter is Senior Day as well as Breast Cancer Awareness Day, when fans are asked to wear pink.

February 14, 2015

Bouncing back from the desert

After two disappointing losses in Arizona the previous weekend, the Stanford women’s basketball team returned home to defeat USC 79-60 on Feb. 13.

Apparently spurred by the 53-52 loss to Arizona State on Feb. 6 and the 60-57 loss to Arizona on Feb. 8, head coach Tara VanDerveer altered the starting lineup. Senior guard Amber Orrange, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson kept their usual starting assignments. Joining them for the first time were senior forward Erica Payne and redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp. Amber, Jasmine and Erica are the team’s co-captains.

Previous starters – sophomore guards Briana Roberson and Lili Thompson – got into the game before long, though. By the time halftime rolled around, 10 players had seen action, and Stanford was ahead 38-27.

The second half started with the usual starters: Amber, Lili, Bri, Bonnie and Kaylee. All 15 players got into the game before the final buzzer sounded, and 12 scored, leading to 55.2 percent accuracy for the game.

USC used all 10 of its available players and shot 37.5 percent.

Bonnie makes four 3’s

The Cardinal made 35.3 percent, or six of 17, of its 3-pointers. Bonnie accounted for four, while Amber and Bri had one each. USC made four of 12 for 33.3 percent.

Scoring was led by Lili with 14, followed by Amber and Bri with 13 each, and Bonnie with 12. Kaylee had 9 to go with five rebounds, but Bonnie led the team with six rebounds. The team had 34 rebounds, bested by USC’s 38.

On the other hand, Stanford had only seven turnovers, compared with USC’s 12. USC had 17 fouls, Stanford 14. Stanford made 60 percent of its free throws, or nine of 15, while USC shot 53.3 percent, or eight of 15, at the charity stripe.

Celebration of the victory was delayed several minutes as USC guard McKenzie Calvert lay on the floor after being injured, and the crowd went silent. As the Stanford players headed toward their huddle, Lili went to her and patted her on the shoulder. Fans and players applauded as she was helped off the court.

Then it was time for “All Right Now” and the victory balls.

Wild turkey roams Maples lot

Some fans arriving early to park in the Maples lot saw something unusual – a wild turkey pecking at the ground cover and walking on the pavement.

Sophomore forward Kailee Johnson was the game’s featured player. During timeouts, the usual five Dollies were joined by up to 10 more, apparently alums of the dance group.

Halftime entertainment was high energy with a performance by the Ernie Reyes martial arts group. As the halftime neared its end, the parents of Lindy La Rocque,’12, chatted with present players’ parents before returning to their seats above the Stanford bench. Along the way they got to say hello to Tara and associate head coach Amy Tucker.

It had been a big day on campus with an appearance by President Obama at a cybersecurity conference, but he left long before the game started. Lili had reportedly hoped he would attend the game because he and she went to the same high school in Hawaii.

Next up for the Cardinal is UCLA at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 15.

February 4, 2015

Complete sweep of Washington schools

With its 82-69 victory over Washington on Feb. 2 in Maples Pavilion, the Stanford women’s basketball team finished with a 4-0 record over the Pac-12’s two Washington schools and a 9-1 conference record overall.

The Cardinal beat both Washington and Washington State on the road in January and took care of WSU again on Jan. 31.

The latest victory over Washington came more easily than the Jan. 9 meeting in Seattle, when Stanford eked out a 60-56 win.

Five score in double figures

Making the job easier were the five players who scored in double figures, led by senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 17. She was followed by sophomore guard Briana Roberson with 15, senior guard Amber Orrange with 14, freshman forward Kaylee Johnson with 11 and sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson with 10.

Also helpful were Kaylee’s 17 rebounds, resulting in the fifth double-double of her first year on the Farm. On top of that, Kaylee is the leading freshman rebounder in the NCAA with an average 10.5 per game.

Moreover, Kaylee tied her career high of four blocks. Now with 30 blocks on the season, she has moved into a third-place tie for freshmen with Kristen Newlin, ’07. They trail Val Whiting, ’93, who had 57 during her freshman year, and the record-holder, Jayne Appel, ’10, who had 61.

Defense squeezes Plum

Credit for the win also goes to Stanford’s stingy defense on the Huskies’ leading scorer, Kelsey Plum, who finished with just 8 points, two of them from free throws. The sophomore had ranked third in the nation in scoring with an average of 24.1 points per game. She didn’t make her first basket until the 3:45 mark of the first half thanks to blanketing by Amber and the other guards.

Both teams were 10-for-28, or 35.7 percent, on 3-point shooting. Stanford’s 3’s came from Bri with three; Amber, Bonnie and Karlie with two each; and senior forward Taylor Greenfield with one.

Bonnie’s second trey was the 200th of her Stanford career, moving into the elite 200 club with Nicole Powell, ’04, 201; Sebnem Kimyacioglu, ’05, 205; Kelley Suminski, ’05, 208; Vanessa Nygaard, ’98, 210; Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, 268; and Candice Wiggins,’08, 295.

In my report on the Washington State game, I should have mentioned that Amber dished out her 500th career assist.

Stanford finished the first half with a comfortable 45-29 lead, but Washington edged to within 6 points with less than 10 minutes to go. That’s when Stanford picked up steam again to close out the victory with only bench players in the game during the final minutes. Nevertheless, Washington had outscored Stanford 40-37 during that half.

Good work at the charity stripe

Free-throw shooting was noteworthy, especially in the first half, when the team was 8-for-8. It was 14-for-19 in the second half, finishing the game with an 81.5 percent success rate. For its part, Washington made seven of its 10 attempts, or 70 percent.

Washington had the advantage in rebounds, 39-36, but it had 10 turnovers compared with Stanford’s seven. Stanford had five blocks and six steals, compared with Washington’s three and four, respectively.

Thirteen of the Cardinal’s 15 available players got into the game, and eight scored. The five starters logged the most minutes, led by Amber and sophomore guard Lili Thompson with 33 each, followed by Bri with 32, Bonnie with 29 and Kaylee with 26.

Freshman guard Brittany McPhee, who hails from the Seattle area, was the game’s featured player.

Girls and women in sports honored

Because it was National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the video board featured highlights from Stanford’s women teams. A number of VIP Stanford women faculty members were seated together as their names and positions were flashed on the video board.

In keeping with the theme, the game’s trivia question deviated from Stanford WBB and instead asked how many all-Americans the women’s cross country team has had since 1980 . The answer was 364.

Halftime featured a game by the Stanford Bloomers, 12 women ranging in age from 52 to over 80. Wearing red or white bloomers, they played by the old half-court rules that kept six players – three red guards and three white forwards – on one side of the court with their counterparts on the other. Only forwards were allowed to shoot. When guards got the ball, they passed it across the center line to their forward teammates.

Up next for SWBB are two contests in the desert. The first is at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 against Arizona State, the only Pac-12 team to defeat the Cardinal this season, 60-57 on Jan. 19. Arizona is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 8. In their previous meeting, Stanford beat Arizona 77-47 on Jan. 16.

February 1, 2015

Balanced scoring ices win over WSU

Five players in double figures helped lead the Stanford women’s basketball team to a 75-56 victory over Washington State on Jan. 31 in Maples Pavilion.

The game was a nice turnaround from the team’s visit to WSU on Jan. 11, when it needed overtime to pull out an 86-76 victory.

In the home game, senior guard Amber Orrange led the team with 15 points, followed by sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 14, sophomore guard Briana Roberson with 11, and sophomore guards Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson with 10 each.

Bri starts for third time

This game marked the third consecutive time that Bri became a starter, joining Amber, Lili, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson. Head coach Tara VanDerveer added her to the starting five the previous weekend, when the Cardinal went to Southern California and defeated both UCLA and USC.

“She’s been doing a great job,” associate head coach Amy Tucker said of Bri during the Behind the Bench after the game. Amy said her sister has told her that Bri has become her new favorite player. Amy also credited Bri for the team’s doing so well in recent games.

Speaking to the crowd, Bri said that as a starter, “you’re expected to bring a lot of energy from the get-go.” When a player comes off the bench, she’s had a chance to assess the flow of the game, Bri said, but “it’s just fun to be out there.”

“Their press was challenging at first, but we adjusted well,” Bri said of the Cougars.

She practices almost every day and wants to focus on her assist-to-turnover ratio, she said. As for shot selection in a game, “our coaches expect great things from us.” She added that she’ll probably declare political science as her major.

Tara praises individuals, team

Tara singled out several players, both starters and bench, for praise. “I’m really excited about the improvement our team is making,” she said. “Our guards are getting better,” making good decisions.

“The challenge is to be consistent. That’s what Amber is,” she said.

Amber had six assists. One of them, which came in the first half, was the 500th of her career. Hence she joined only six other Cardinal players to reach that level.

Tara also praised the leadership of the co-captains: Amber, senior forward Erica Payne and redshirt junior Jasmine Camp.

Everyone gets in on the action

All 15 players were available, and all 15 got playing time. Lili had the most time with 34 minutes, followed by Amber and Bonnie with 32 each. Coming off the bench, Karlie had 27 minutes, while Bird had 22.

Stanford dominated the boards with 47 rebounds, 11 of them by Kaylee. WSU had 30. Stanford had 38 points in the paint, WSU only 12.

For the game, Stanford shot 49.1 percent, compared with WSU’s 30.8 percent. On 3-pointers, Stanford was five of 13, or 38.5 percent. Bonnie had two of the 3’s, while Bri, Amber and Karlie had one each.

Turnovers were a problem, with 18 by the Cardinal and 14 by the Cougars. Nine of the Cardinal turnovers were caused by WSU steals, while the Cardinal had eight steals.

Crowd makes ‘a big difference for our team’

Official attendance was 3,118. Tara credited the crowd for its help in lifting the Cardinal from a 37-39 deficit after the first half to a 38-17 advantage in the second, leading to the win. “You made a big difference for our team,” she said.

Looking ahead, she said, “We have to be aggressive offensively.

“We’re going to have to be road warriors,” especially during the Pac-12 tournament, when the Cardinal presumably will play several days in succession. “We have a tournament-built game,” she said, citing the team’s depth. It had 49 points, or 65.3 percent of the total against WSU, from the starters and 26 points from the bench, or 34.7 percent.

Responding to a question about next year’s incoming freshmen, Tara pointed to the strengths of each of the four and said, “The cupboard will never be bare.”

The game’s featured player was Karlie, as the video board displayed information about her.

On another note, fans were asked to go to the north concourse to sign a get-well card for announcer Betty Ann Hagenau (Boeving), who is recuperating at home after a bicycle accident.

Trivia: How many first-round WNBA picks?

The trivia question asked how many Stanford players have been first-round WNBA draft picks since 1997. The choices were 8, 11 and 15.

The answer was 11, starting with Jamila Wideman in 1997. She was followed by Jennifer Azzi, 1999; Naomi Mulitauaopele and Katy Steding, 2000; Nicole Powell, 2004; Candice Wiggins, 2008; Jayne Appel, 2010; Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen, 2011; Nneka Ogwumike, 2012; and Chiney Ogwumike, 2014. The Ogwumikes were both No. 1 picks.

Next up for the Cardinal is a home game against Washington at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2. In the teams’ Jan. 9 meeting in Seattle, Stanford won 60-56.

January 22, 2015

A tale of two halves

Despite a valiant effort to come back from a 17-point halftime deficit, the Stanford women’s basketball team came up just short, losing to Arizona State 60-57 at home on Jan. 19.

The loss came just as the Cardinal had moved up from No. 13 to No. 11 in AP rankings, while ASU had advanced from No. 14 to No. 13. The loss also meant that ASU and Oregon State have the only undefeated records in the Pac-12 conference.

With all 15 Stanford players available, only 10 saw action, but four were in the game for at least 30 minutes.

The starting lineup was the same as in recent games with senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guards Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

Rebounding greatly favors ASU

Stanford was down 39-22 at the half, in large part because of the discrepancy in rebounding, a trend that continued into the second half, ending with a 44-22 advantage for ASU.

Cold shooting also hurt, with Stanford at 29.2 percent compared with ASU at 51.5 percent in the first half. Those numbers came close to reversing in the second half with Stanford at 56 percent versus ASU at 26.1 percent. Stanford held a slight edge for the game, 42.9 percent versus 41.1 percent.

After the team came from the locker room for the second half, head coach Tara VanDerveer altered the starting lineup. The Samuelsons, Stanford’s sharp-shooters for 3’s, were replaced by sophomore guard Brianna Roberson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Stanford proceeded to outscore ASU 35-21 in the second half. Stanford had a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime with a 3 with 2.6 seconds left. However, that wasn’t enough time to propel the ball from under ASU’s basket to make the score. Amber heaved a shot while still on ASU’s side of the court, but it fell short.

ASU defense limits 3-pointers

ASU’s reputation for limiting 3-point shooting proved to be true with the Cardinal making only three of 13, or 23.1 percent, of its shots beyond the arc. Bonnie, Lili and Bri each had one.

ASU made five 3’s. It made nine of 15 free throws, 60 percent; while Stanford made 12 of 15, 80 percent.

On the other hand, Stanford had only 10 turnovers compared with ASU’s 20 and had the edge in both blocks, 6-1, and steals, 6-5. Stanford had more fouls, 16-11, but several of them came in the final seconds in an effort to stop the clock and perhaps get the ball back.

Three players – Lili, Amber and senior forward Taylor Greenfield – led the team with 12 points each.

Amber plays 39 minutes

Amber logged the most time, 39 minutes, followed by Lili with 38, and Bri and Bird with 30 each.

The crowd of 3,546 started to get loud as the Cardinal cut its deficit to 13 points about two minutes into the second half. Things just got louder after that as the gap continued to narrow. It was down to 1 point, 47-46, with about five minutes to go, but ASU wouldn’t go away.

A look at the team’s record in close games to date might provide some perspective into the ASU loss:

Vs. UConn at home Nov. 17 Stanford won 88-86 in overtime.
Vs. Texas at home Nov. 20, Stanford lost 87-81 in overtime.
Vs. New Mexico there Nov. 24, Stanford won 70-65.
Vs. Washington there Jan. 9, Stanford won 60-56.
Vs. Washington State there Jan. 11, Stanford won 86-76 in overtime.

That’s a 4-1 record in close games before the ASU loss.

Before the game started, Tara, well known as a dog lover, stopped to chat with a sheriff’s officer and his tail-wagging black Lab K-9 partner before walking to the bench.

Tess featured on video board

Junior forward/center Tess Picknell was the game’s featured player, with factoids about her shown on the video board. One is that she plays the violin. The film and media studies major said she hopes to get into film production after graduation.

The game’s trivia question asked how many points Chiney Ogwumike, ’14, scored to set the Stanford career record. The choices were 2,642, 2,737 and 2,821. The answer was 2,737. It eclipsed the previous record of 2,629 set by Candice Wiggins, ’08.

Here’s some more trivia: The Cardinal had previously beaten ASU 16 consecutive times. ASU hadn’t won at Maples since head coach Charlie Turner Thorne, ’88, was a Cardinal herself.

Next for the Cardinal is a trip to Southern California for contests against UCLA at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 and against USC at 5 p.m. Jan. 25. Both will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

January 18, 2015

Bird joins flock of double-digit scorers

Balance was the name of the game Jan. 16 when the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated visiting Arizona 77-47 to stretch its Pac-12 conference record to 5-0 and its season record to 13-4.

Led by senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 14 points, five Cardinal were in double figures. She was followed by sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 13 and by sophomore guards Lili Thompson, Karlie Samuelson and Briana Roberson with 12 each.

Combined with her career-high 16 rebounds, Bird had the first double-double of her Stanford career, plus three blocks in 25 minutes.

Bird credits glasses for helping her

In a press conference after the game, she said that wearing glasses for the second consecutive game improved her court vision. “They give me a sense of confidence knowing I can see better,” she is quoted as saying. She hadn’t worn glasses during previous games this season, and contacts don’t work for her.

In what may be a nod to Stanford’s priding itself on being Nerd Nation, the glasses are horn-rimmed. All that’s missing is adhesive tape over the bridge.

When Bird scored her 11th point during the second half, junior forward/center Tess Picknell could be seen at the bench flapping her arms.

The victory followed two road wins the previous weekend, when Washington fell 60-56 on Jan. 9, and Washington State fell 86-76 in overtime on Jan. 11.

There were no changes in the starting lineup as Bonnie, Lili and Karlie were joined by freshman forward Kaylee Johnson and senior guard Amber Orrange.

Samuelson sisters contribute four 3’s each

Twenty-seven points came from making 9 of 19, 47.4 percent, of the team’s 3-point attempts. Bonnie and Karlie contributed four each, while Amber added the other one.

Fourteen players were available, and all 14 got into the game, with nine scoring. The only player in street clothes was redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp.

Although Arizona has won no Pac-12 games this season, its 11 available players did their best to thwart the Cardinal with an often-pressing defense and energetic play. Still, the Cardinal’s overall strength and balance were too much to overcome.

Stanford had the edge in rebounds, 37-30; blocks, 6-3; steals, 9-6; and assists, 20-9. The Cardinal had 14 turnovers to Arizona’s 18, and nine fouls to the opponent’s 14. Free-throw shooting percentage also favored Stanford, 76.9 to 33.31. Both Lili and Briana were a perfect 4-for-4 at the charity stripe.

Crowd enjoys entertainment

With an official attendance of 3,419, the crowd was entertained by the band, Tree, cheerleaders and Dollies. Just before the game began, the Dollies formed the letter ‘S’ with their silver pompons.

Bonnie was the featured player as the video board periodically relayed facts about the human biology major.

With Stanford ahead 41-24, halftime entertainment featured a return visit (after last season) by the WJM Band, three Bay Area sixth-graders named William, Jeremy and Max (no last names given).

With two on guitar and one on drums, they played a loudly amplified rock set that had the Stanford band bouncing along at its part of the bleachers. Prudently wearing earplugs, the boys reportedly donate their profits to charity.

How many undefeated conference seasons?

The game’s trivia question asked how many undefeated conference seasons – five, seven or 12 – Stanford has enjoyed since formation of the Pac-10 conference in 1986. The answer was seven.

The seasons were 1988-89, 1995-96, 1996-97, 2001-02, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. As a footnote, Marianne Stanley and associate head coach Amy Tucker were in charge during the 1995-96 season when head coach Tara VanDerveer was coaching the USA women’s basketball team to an Olympic gold medal.

Later in the second half, two women competed against each other to be the first to identify blurred three photos of players – Amber, Bird and Kaylee – before they came into full focus.

Next on the schedule is a home game against Arizona State at 3 p.m. Jan. 19. Stanford, ASU and Oregon State sit atop the Pac-12 conference with 5-0 records.

P.S. In my recent story about the team’s bus driver, Don Van Zandt, I should have named his wife, who joins him at home games. She’s Margot Van Zandt.

January 7, 2015

Utah falls to Stanford

Completing the opening round of Pac-12 competition, the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated Utah 55-44 on Jan. 5 in Maples Pavilion.

With a 5 p.m. start time on a Monday, the crowd numbered only 2,782, but the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree were on hand to lend their support.

All 15 players were available, and 13 played.

Cold shooting in first half

The game started slowly with the first half ending 20-14 in Stanford’s favor. Utah shot 20.7 percent, while Stanford was only slightly better at 26.7 percent.

However, Stanford upped its shooting to 50 percent in the second half while holding Utah to 35.7 percent. For the game, Stanford averaged 36 percent, Utah 28.1 percent.

Several times during the first half Stanford fans registered their disapproval when they thought fouls should have been called on Utah. However, the officiating got tighter in the second half. Stanford finished the game with 12 fouls compared with Utah’s 20.

The starting lineup was familiar with senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guards Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

Amber, Lili help lead team to victory

Amber led the team with 17 points plus seven rebounds, one assist and one steal. Lili was next with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Also recording seven rebounds were Kaylee and Bonnie.

Kaylee had one of her better scoring outings with 7 points to go with her rebounds plus a team-high four blocks along with one assist and one steal.

When it came to blocking, freshman guard Brittany McPhee was right behind Kaylee with three in only 10 minutes. She added 2 points, one rebound and one steal.

As a team, the Cardinal had eight blocks, while Utah had six. The Cardinal had a 4-2 advantage in steals.

Team cuts down on turnovers

After having 16 turnovers in the win over Colorado on Jan. 3, the Cardinal handled the ball more carefully, making 10. Utah had only eight.

The team made four of its eight 3-point attempts, with two by Lili and one each by Amber and Karlie. Utah was 4-for-21 beyond the arc.

Free-throw shooting improved to 75 percent after 57.1 percent against Colorado.

Redshirt junior guard Alex Green was the game’s featured player. When she first answered questions on the video board, she whispered her answers to Bonnie, who spoke for her shy teammate. Later Alex spoke for herself.

Trivia question on single-game scoring record

Another video board feature was a trivia question about who holds the SWBB record for most points in a single game. The choices were Candice Wiggins, ’08; Kate Starbird, ’97; and Jayne Appel, ’10.

The answer was Jayne. She scored 46 points in the Elite Eight game against Iowa State in the Cal regional on March 30, 2009, helping the Cardinal to a 74-53 victory and a trip to the Final Four in St. Louis.

Candice and Kate held the previous record of 44 points each. Kate set the mark against USC on Jan. 13, 1996. Candice matched it against UTEP on March 24, 2008.

Tara wears brace on left wrist

Fans may have noticed head coach Tara VanDerveer wearing a black brace on her left wrist during the Colorado and Utah games.

She told the Associated Press after the Utah game that she broke a bone in her left arm just above the wrist during practice on New Year’s Eve. “She stepped in front of 6-foot-5 [junior forward] Tess Picknell and fell backward, landing on the hand,” AP reported.

“ ‘I knew right away something was wrong,’ she said. ‘I’m so mad at myself, and I feel so embarrassed. I’m competitive is what it is,’ ” AP reported.

AP quoted her as saying she won’t need surgery or a pin. She also said that Tess apologized, but the 61-year-old coach blamed only herself.

Now that the team has started the month with a 2-0 Pac-12 record, it faces what could be tougher tests during a northern road trip.

It plays Washington at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 in Seattle and Washington State at 1 p.m. Jan. 11 in Pullman. Both games will be shown on the Pac-12 Network and aired by KZSU radio.

January 4, 2015

Amber, Lili assure victory over Colorado

Thanks to starting guards Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson, the Stanford women’s basketball team managed a 62-55 win over Colorado at Maples to open Pac-12 play on Jan. 3.

Senior Amber scored a career-high 26 points, while sophomore Lili added 17. Their combined total of 43 points accounted for 69.3 percent of the final score.

They were the only two Cardinal players in double figures. Senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore guard Briana Roberson were the next-highest scorers with 7 each.

Game marred by 16 turnovers

The team had a total of 16 turnovers, 11 of them in the second half, while Colorado had a total of 13. In just over 7 minutes ending at the 11:06 mark of the second half, the team had a succession of eight TO’s. That’s just about when Amber took over, scoring 9 points in the final 7 minutes.

All 15 players were available, and 12 played. The starters were Amber, Lili, Bonnie, sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

Of those five, Kaylee played the least – 19 minutes – after getting into foul trouble and fouling out with less than a minute left. Bonnie played a team-high 34 minutes, closely followed by Amber with 33 minutes despite four fouls during the final minutes of the game.

Free-throw accuracy only 57.1 percent

In total, the team had 17 fouls, compared with 23 by Colorado. However, the Cardinal made only 12 of 21, or 57.1 percent, of its free throws. Colorado made 14 of 19, or 73.7 percent.

The Cardinal had only a slight edge in rebounding, 37-35, led by Kaylee and Lili with five each. Stanford had six blocks, with two each by sophomore forwards Erica “Bird” McCall and Kailee Johnson, while Colorado had only one.

Likewise, Stanford led in steals with four – two by Lili – compared with one by Colorado.

Post play was a concern, with only 4 points – 2 each by Bird and Kailee.

At the half, Stanford led 32-25, but each team scored 30 in the second half, keeping the crowd of 3,507 fans in doubt about the final outcome until Amber took over.

Chiney, Sara cheer from stands

Among those fans were 2014 SWBB grads Chiney Ogwumike and Sara James, sitting in the front row of the family section. Chiney, Stanford’s all-time leading scorer, is playing professionally overseas and in the WNBA, while Sara is in Columbia University’s graduate school of nursing in New York City.

Chiney talked with fans and signed autographs after the game.

Redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp was the game’s featured player, with Did You Know’s posted on the video board.

The game was broadcast by the Pac-12 Network with Anne Marie Anderson and SWBB grad Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, ’10, on the call. Ros interviewed Amber after the game.

Stanford returns to action at home against Utah at 5 p.m. Jan. 5.