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.

December 30, 2014

Team tunes up for Pac-12 with romp over UCSB

The Stanford women’s basketball team ended its pre-conference schedule with a 90-34 victory over winless UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 28 at Maples.

All 15 players were in uniform and played at least 5 minutes. The scoring was well balanced with four players in double figures: sophomore guard Lili Thompson with 12, sophomore guards Karlie Samuelson and Briana Roberson with 11 each, and freshman guard Brittany McPhee with 10.

In all, 12 players scored, but everyone contributed in some way.

Brittany leads team in playing time

Brittany’s 22 minutes of playing time was a high for the team. Everyone else played 19 minutes or less.

In addition to her 10 points, Brittany contributed five rebounds, three blocks and three steals, playing with energy and hustle that impressed the 4,041 people in attendance.

The Cardinal led in rebounds, 50-21; assists, 17-8; blocks, 6-2; and steals, 8-4. Stanford had only nine turnovers, while UCSB had 12. UCSB had 13 fouls to Stanford’s seven.

Besides Lili and Karlie, the starting lineup featured senior guard Amber Orrange, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

“Bird” snares 12 rebounds

Coming off the bench, sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall had a team-high and career-high 12 rebounds to go with 8 points on 4-of-4 shooting.

Shooting at a 41.7 percent clip from beyond the arc, the Cardinal had 10 3’s with three each from Bonnie and Karlie, two from redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp and one each from Briana and senior forward Taylor Greenfield. Jasmine’s two baskets were her first for the season.

The atmosphere at Maples was enlivened by the band, cheerleaders and Tree. Kaylee was the game’s featured player. The video board showed some Did You Know facts along with a brief interview. One of the facts was that she was a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year in her home state of Wyoming.

A Behind the Bench followed the game, with associate head coach Amy Tucker noting that the team was back after just a three-day break for Christmas.

She then introduced Jasmine, saying that the team co-captain “has been relentlessly positive and optimistic” in addition to being a good mentor to the younger players.

Jasmine applies to graduate business schools

Although she is a redshirt with another year of eligibility, she’s applying for graduate business schools and might consider going into coaching, Jasmine said. A psychology major, she’s not applying to Stanford because its business school doesn’t take students directly out of college. They need some business experience first.

She said the team’s three freshmen – Kaylee, Brittany and guard Taylor Rooks – “are taking everything in stride.” They’re “very well adjusted.”

She started playing basketball on a YMCA team when she was 4 years old.

Answering other questions, she said her most memorable moments with the team include her first Final Four her freshman year (in Denver in 2012) and the team’s trip to Italy in 2013.

Tara speaks to fans

As head coach Tara VanDerveer returned from her post-game press conference, Jasmine was asked for a favorite Taraism. She laughed and said that there are “too many to choose from.”

Tara began her comments by noting that Lili’s grandmother was visiting from Michigan and that Kaylee’s grandparents were making their first visit to Stanford.

“This is a great way to close out 2014,” she said. “We’ve played a really tough schedule.”

“It’s fun to see so many of our younger players do so well for us. It was a fun game for us. … We need this kind of game to allow younger players to make mistakes.”

Asked which Pac-12 team poses the biggest challenge, she answered, “It’s all about our team. We need everyone to continue to improve.”

Coaches continue to work on puzzle

As the coaches continue to work with the new offense, they face “a different puzzle to put together. ... It’s still evolving,” but the team has “mature, unselfish players.” The coaches are trying to take “advantage of our team’s strengths.”

She noted that “the guards are doing more,” and the team is “running more screening on the ball.”

The lineups have mostly been using one true post, with Bonnie and Taylor serving as stretch 4’s. That means that with their 3-point shooting ability, they stretch the defenses more to the perimeter. The offense is emphasizing more 3-point shooting and using more players off the bench.

The trip to Tennessee earlier in December resulted in losses to Tennessee and Chattanooga and showed that “we have a long way to go,” Tara said.

Still, “I’d rather learn what we need to work on earlier (rather) than later.”

Coach praises Kaylee, Brittany

She said that Kaylee has been “a pleasant surprise. … Her rebounding is exceptional,” and she has a good basketball IQ. She also said that “I thought Brittany did a very nice job today,” especially since she missed several weeks of practice while recovering from an injury.

She was noncommittal about whether Jasmine and guard Alex Green, the other redshirt junior, would return next year. The other four seniors – Amber, Taylor, Bonnie and forward Erica Payne – will graduate. To date, the team has four freshmen coming in next fall.

She said she watches the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. “We do learn a lot from watching them.” Former Cardinal player Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, ’10, is a sideline commentator for the Oakland team. “She’s awesome,” funny and insightful, Tara said.

The team kicks off its Pac-12 season at home with games against Colorado at 7 p.m. Jan. 3 and Utah at 5 p.m. Jan. 5. Both will be televised on the Pac-12 network.

December 24, 2014

Players go home on a winning note

With senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson accounting for more than half of its points, the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated UC Davis 71-59 in Maples on Dec. 22.

The victory was most welcome following a road trip on which the team lost 54-46 to Chattanooga on Dec. 17 and 59-40 to Tennessee on Dec. 20. Those losses dropped Stanford from No 7 to No. 16 in AP’s weekly poll.

Allowing for the trip back to Stanford, the team had little time to prepare for UC Davis. Hence, defeating the then 4-6 Aggies wasn’t as easy as one might expect. The Aggies stayed close and even led for much of the first half, which ended 34-30 in the Cardinal’s favor.

UCD edged close several times during the second half, but Stanford kept rallying. Both teams shot 46.2 percent in the first half, while Stanford came out ahead 46.4 percent compared with 35.7 percent in the second half.

Bonnie pours in 30 points

Bonnie, making her first start this season and the sixth of her career, scored a total of 30 points, including 18 on 3’s. She also had five rebounds, one block and two steals in her team-high 35 minutes.

She opened Stanford’s scoring with two 3’s, followed by one from Karlie, who also started. It was the first time that both sisters were in the starting lineup.

Bonnie’s total made her the first non-Ogwumike to score at least 30 points in a game since Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, had 31 in the memorable home win over UConn on Dec. 30, 2010.

Joining the Samuelsons in the starting lineup were senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guard Lili Thompson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

Kaylee has a double-double

Besides Bonnie, the only other player to score in double figures was Kaylee, who had 11 points to go with 11 rebounds in 21 minutes of playing time before fouling out late in the second half.

Karlie had 9 points with her three 3’s plus two assists in 30 minutes. Amber was right behind with 8 points, four assists and four steals also in 30 minutes.

Altogether, the team had 10 3’s with six from Bonnie, three from Karlie and one from Lili, leading to a 58.8 percent success rate from beyond the arc on 10 of 17 shooting.

The team was outrebounded 35-30, but had a 13-10 edge in assists and a 6-5 edge in steals. It had 10 turnovers to UCD’s 14. UCD had 19 fouls, while Stanford had 13.

11 Cardinal players get into the game

Head coach Tara VanDerveer used 10 players in the first half and 11 for the game. All 15 players were available. UCD had 11 in uniform.

The official attendance was listed at 3,375 even though it was a work day during a busy holiday week. Students are on their holiday break, meaning no band or any other student contingent.

Senior forward Erica Payne, who has been getting more playing time lately, was the game’s featured player. The video board had a brief interview with her as well as trivia about her likes during some timeouts.

During some other timeouts, individual players wished the fans happy holidays.

The players will have only a brief visit with their families before returning. They’ll be back in action at home against UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. Dec. 28. It will be their last nonconference game before Pac-12 competition starts Jan. 3 against Colorado and Jan. 5 against Utah, both at home.

December 17, 2014

Back to work and a win after finals

After a two-week hiatus for finals, the Stanford women’s basketball team returned to action at home on Dec. 14 and came away with an 82-43 victory over neighboring Santa Clara University.

With most students – except for the band -- home for the holiday break, several youth groups, along with regular fans, helped make up for their absence, leading to an official attendance of 3,527.

Except for senior forward Taylor Greenfield, who reportedly was held out as a precaution because of a sore foot, everyone got in on the fun, and everyone contributed in some way.

Amber leads with 20 points

The biggest contribution point-wise came from senior guard Amber Orrange with 20 points in 26 minutes, in addition to four rebounds, three assists, one block and three steals.

The only other players in double figures were freshman guard Brittany McPhee with 11 points, four rebounds, a block and two steals in just 15 minutes; and senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 11 points and two rebounds, also in 15 minutes.

Each of them had one three-pointer to her credit, while Amber had two. The total of four 3’s on 21.1 percent shooting was below the team’s usual production.

Kaylee has her 2nd 22-rebound game

Under the boards, the biggest contribution came from freshman forward Kaylee Johnson, who had 22 rebounds for the second time in her fledgling career. As one fan noted, she just seems to know where the ball will be. Kaylee also had nine points, one assist, two blocks and two steals in a team-high 27 minutes.

Starters for the game were Amber and Kaylee along with sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall and sophomore guards Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson. Karlie played 25 minutes and had 7 points, four assists, one block and one steal.

The game started slowly with Stanford lagging for the first few minutes even though SCU couldn’t match the Cardinal in height. Its tallest starter was only 6 feet, while starters Kaylee and Bird both are 6’3”.

Stanford inched ahead in the subsequent minutes, ending the first half with a 40-21 advantage. By then head coach Tara VanDerveer had used 10 players.

SCU maintains enthusiasm

Despite being overmatched on the basketball court, SCU was big in enthusiasm, starting with warmups, when the players were quite vocal. Their enthusiasm and support for one another never flagged. Even when it was apparent that Stanford would win big, SCU players on the bench jumped up and cheered for every basket or anything else in their team’s favor.

Besides lagging in 3-point shooting, the Cardinal also was subpar in overall field goals, making just 29 of 72, or 40.3 percent. Free-throw shooting was somewhat better, 20 of 34, or 58.8 percent. On the other hand, Bonnie made all four of her FT’s, while Brittany made four of five.

SCU shot just 30.8 percent on field goals for the game. It made only one of four free throws for 25 percent. Stanford had more opportunities at the charity stripe because SCU had 27 fouls while the Cardinal had 13.

Thanks in large part to Kaylee, the Cardinal dominated the boards with 57 rebounds compared with SCU’s 33.

Toni helps girls through BAWSI

Among youth groups at the game was a large delegation of girls from the Sunnyvale branch of Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative. According to its website, “BAWSI is a free, weekly after-school program in which elementary school girls develop self-esteem and good health practices from role models they can admire and emulate – female athletes drawn from college, university and high school teams from all over the Bay Area.”

Women from several Stanford teams are involved. Among them is WBB alum Toni Kokenis, ’14, who was one of the leaders with the Sunnyvale group. Toni is a Stanford grad student.

The game’s featured player was freshman guard Taylor Rooks. During the game, the video board flashed “did you know” trivia about Taylor, such as pizza is her favorite food.

Something new in Maples is the updated banner reflecting the women’s volleyball team’s 2014 Pac-12 championship. The team has advanced to the Final Four in Oklahoma City, with its first game on Dec. 18.

Although the WBB win was a nice way to start the holiday break, the players didn’t have much time to celebrate. They were scheduled to board the bus for the airport at about 5:45 a.m. the next day in order to fly to Tennessee. There they’ll face presumably stiffer competition from Chattanooga at 3 p.m. PST Dec. 17 and Tennessee at 10 a.m. Dec. PST 20.

Then it’s back to campus for one more game, UC Davis on Dec. 22, before finally getting a holiday break. It’ll be a quick one, though, because the next game is Dec. 28 at home against UC Santa Barbara before Pac-12 competition starts in the new year.

November 23, 2014

Similar scenario, disappointing outcome

Just as it had done against UConn just three days earlier, the Stanford women’s basketball team scored more than 80 points in a game that ended in overtime, but instead of winning 88-86, the Cardinal lost to Texas 87-81 on Nov. 20 in Maples Pavilion.

And just as it had done against UConn, the team stayed behind but kept the game close until the final few minutes.

Regulation time ended with the score 75-75. Even with 1:27 left in OT, the score was 80-80, but Stanford managed only 1 more point while the Longhorns had another 7. Thus the visitors snapped Stanford’s home winning streak at 28.

Fatigue may have set in

Fatigue may have been a factor in this second OT game in less than a week.

The Stanford starters included two seniors – guard Amber Orrange and forward Taylor Greenfield – along with two sophomores – guard Lili Thompson and forward Erica “Bird” McCall. Freshman forward Kaylee Johnson was the other starter.

Freshman guard Taylor Rooks was in street clothes, but the other 14 players were available. Eleven saw action.

However, most of the heavy lifting on scoring was done by Lili with a career-high 28 points in a team-high 43 minutes

and Amber with 15 in 29 minutes. Amber’s time was limited by fouls. She fouled out in OT after deliberately touching a Texas player in a move designed to give Stanford a chance to get the ball back.

No one else got into double figures. The closest was senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 8.

Cold shooting hurts

Cold shooting was a major factor in the loss. Stanford was 35.9 percent for the game, compared with 48.5 percent for Texas.

Stanford came away with seven 3’s – three by Lili, two by Bonnie and one each by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson and freshman Brittany McPhee. However, the team had lofted 27 shots from the arc, giving it only a 25.9 percent success rate.

Texas made four of 11 3’s for 36.4 percent.

Texas had its biggest advantage with 34 points in the paint compared with Stanford’s 24.
Its post players consistently outmuscled their Cardinal counterparts, while its perimeter players limited Stanford guards’ drives to the basket. In short, it played better defense than Stanford did.

Free-throw shooting at 73.7 percent

Stanford’s free-throw shooting improved to 73.7 percent compared with 65.6 percent against UConn, but that still meant that the team scored 28 points on at least 38 tries. Texas was 17 of 23. Texas had 30 fouls, Stanford 21 in this closely called game.

Once again Kaylee was a major contributor on the boards with 13 rebounds, but she scored only 7 points, 5 of them on free throws.

The official crowd count was 3,674.

The usual student contingent of the Tree, band, Dollies and cheerleaders was on hand. Not only does the Tree have a new look with his multi-colored palm fronds, but he knows some of the Dollies’ routines.

Something else new this season: Instead of the traditional handshakes before tipoff, the starters fist-bump.

Next on the agenda is New Mexico in Albuquerque at 6 p.m. PST Monday, Nov. 24, before three games in the three days after Thanksgiving at a tournament in Honolulu.

November 19, 2014

Just one word – Wow!

It was an unforgettable sight. Hundreds of Stanford students poured out of the stands and onto the floor of Maples Pavilion after the final buzzer sounded, signaling the women’s basketball team’s hard-fought, overtime win over UConn, 88-86, on Nov. 17.

The victory not only ended the two-time defending national champion’s 47-game winning streak, it also extended the Cardinal’s home winning streak to 28. The student celebrants included former guard Toni Kokenis, ’14, who was on the team when it ended UConn’s record 90-game win streak at Maples in 2010. Now she’s studying for her master’s degree in sociology at Stanford.

With 2.6 seconds left in OT and the Cardinal ahead by 2 after a successful free throw by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson, UConn had the ball under the Stanford basket. Sophomore guard Briana Roberson wisely restrained her joyful teammates on the bench so that they wouldn’t rush onto the floor and risk a possible penalty.

UConn couldn’t advance the ball fast enough to get a shot

and now it was time for the players to celebrate

with hugs, hugs and more hugs.

The official attendance of 5,367 included a bloc of several dozen UConn fans in the general admission section behind the Huskies bench.

All players in uniform

All 15 Stanford players were in uniform, but only 10 played. Nine accounted for the lion’s share of minutes.

The starting lineup featured senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guard Lili Thompson, senior forward Taylor Greenfield, freshman forward Kaylee Johnson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Amber amassed the most minutes, 42, but sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson came off the bench to provide 40 minutes and some tough defense.

When it came to scoring, Lili led both teams with 24 points, followed by Amber with 17 and senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 14.

Game stays close

UConn came out of the starting gate with the first 4 points, but Bird put Stanford on the scoreboard with two free throws. UConn stayed ahead by relatively small margins throughout the first half, which ended with the Huskies ahead 40-38.

The story was much the same through most of the second half with UConn’s largest margin, 10 points, coming with 6:32 to go. By the 1:19 mark, however, Stanford lagged by only 3 points, 68-71. With 12 seconds to go, UConn’s edge was still 3 points, 74-77.

That’s when the Cardinal got possession, passing the ball to Amber, who made a game-tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

The score seesawed during the five-minute OT. With slightly more than a minute and a half to go, Amber with a basket, Bonnie with two FTs and Karlie with one FT made the crucial points that sealed the win and set off the celebration.

Free throws a concern

As the game hung in the balance at the half, several fans commented that if the team had hit more of free throws, the score would be in its favor. In 11 tries at the charity stripe, the team collected only 6 points, for 54.5 percent. Since some of those tries were 1-and- 1’s, presumably there could have been more points if the first shots had been made.

Things improved somewhat in the second half with the team going 8 for 13, or 61.5 percent, but the OT tally of 7 for 8, or 87.5 percent, was crucial to the win. For the game, the team made 65.6 percent of its FTs. UConn wasn’t much better, 67.9 percent.

Stanford made 7 of 14 3’s, or 50 percent. Bonnie had two. Taylor, Amber, Lili, Karlie and Briana each had one. Bonnie’s first 3, her first of the season, came at the 3:53 mark in the first half. She followed with another at 1:44 to put Stanford ahead 36-35.

Stanford outrebounded UConn 41-37. Kaylee snared 13 to lead both teams. Amber and Karlie were next with five each for Stanford.

With the game so close and the crowd so big, the atmosphere at Maples was electric and loud. My ears were still ringing long after I got home.

Coaches rank Stanford No. 1

In the aftermath of the game, the USA Today coaches poll came out the next day, Nov. 18, and pushed Stanford up to No. 1 from No. 6 while bumping UConn down to No. 4 from No. 1. Notre Dame was ranked second, followed by South Carolina at third. Texas, Stanford’s next opponent, was 13th.

Before the game started, a men’s barbershop quartet, Motley Q, gave a fine rendition of the national anthem.

Three men and a woman from Oakland-based Showtime Dunk provided halftime entertainment with their athletic runs to the basket, aided by a trampoline and large cushion.

Betty Ann is back after marriage

And one final note: Announcer Betty Ann Boeving made a most welcome return after missing the first three games. She had a good excuse, though. On Oct. 11 she was married to Bob Hagenau before they went on their honeymoon to New Zealand and Fiji.

She said she is using his last name and intended to make some reference to it at the end of the game, but all the excitement apparently changed her mind.

In the meantime, Stanford players and fans don’t have a lot of time to bask in euphoria. Texas comes to Maples at 6 p.m. Nov. 20.

After that, the team takes to the road, playing at New Mexico on Nov. 24. After that, it’s on to Honolulu for three games in the three days immediately following Thanksgiving before a two-week break for Dead Week and finals.

November 17, 2014

Bright spots in season opener

While the game was far from perfect, fans of Stanford women’s basketball had reason for optimism as Boston College fell 96-63 in the season-opening game Nov. 14 at Maples Pavilion.

The win wasn’t quite as easy as the score might indicate, especially in the first half, when the Cardinal went to the locker room with only a 49-40 lead. Because of lapses in Stanford’s perimeter defense, BC unleashed nine 3’s, while the Cardinal managed only three.

With 6:16 to go in the first half, the score was just 30-29 in Stanford’s favor following a series of BC 3’s. Head coach Tara VanDerveer called a time out, but shortly thereafter, BC popped in another to make the score 34-32 with 4:55 to go.

Halftime adjustments pay off

Thanks to the necessary adjustments at halftime, though, BC hit no more 3’s, while Stanford added four to its total of seven.

Sophomore guard Lili Thompson had three for the game, followed by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson with two. Senior forward Taylor Greenfield and freshman guard Brittany McPhee added one each.

Brittany’s trey marked the first official points of her Stanford career. She added a free throw to give her 4 points in nine minutes. She has recently returned after recovering from a foot problem.

Stanford had been outrebounded in the first half, too, but the second half went better, leading to a final total of 38 rebounds for Stanford and 27 for BC. Senior guard Amber Orrange had nine, while junior forward/center Tess Picknell had six in seven minutes of action.

Taylor, Amber and Lili were in the starting lineup along with sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson. All five logged double-digit minutes, led by Amber with 29.

Also getting double-digit playing time were Karlie, sophomore forward Kailee Johnson and redshirt junior guard Alex Green.

Everyone gets in on the fun

All 15 players were dressed, and all had played by the time the final buzzer sounded. The starters were on the bench to stay with just over seven minutes to go.

In keeping with a tradition in which one player is featured on the video board at each home game, Taylor was the season’s initial honoree as her parents observed from the family section.

Finishing with 10 points, Taylor showed more offensive aggressiveness than in some past games. She also displayed defensive leadership, often directing her teammates to appropriate spots.

Except for the perimeter lapses in the first half, the players seemed more aggressive on defense, making concerted efforts to steal the ball. Their efforts paid off in 11 steals. Amber and Lili had three each, followed by Bird and Kailee with two each and Alex with one. BC had only three steals.

The steals helped the team amass 12 fast-break points, compared with 2 for BC. BC had 17 turnovers, while Stanford had 15.

Stanford also led in blocking with six -- three by Kailee, two by Bird and one by Kaylee.

Lili, Bird tally career-high points

When it came to scoring, Lili’s 26 points and Bird’s 16 were both career highs. Amber had 11 points to go with a team-high six assists.

Among boosters in the crowd of 3,278 were the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree as well as pairs of students waving red Stanford flags during timeouts. One of those students in the second half was an enthusiastically cheered man in a wheelchair.

Because the men’s basketball team was scheduled to play at 9 p.m., everyone had to leave Maples. However, fans with ticket stubs to the women’s game were given free general admission seats.

In the meantime, the ever-energetic band entertained fans outside.

While this game was a nice way to start the season, the new-look Cardinal with its emphasis on speedy guard play will face an acid test at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. That’s when the team will play host to two-time defending national champion UConn.