Well, when a sprained right ankle kept senior center Jayne Appel from behind the wheel when Stanford visited Cal on March 6, forwards Kayla Pedersen and Nneka Ogwumike took over, driving the Cardinal to a 63-48 victory. They scored a combined 45 points – 23 from Kayla, 22 from Nneka – and led Stanford to its first unbeaten Pac-10 season since 2002. They also led the team in rebounds with 10 by Kayla and 14 by Nneka.
A bus figured into the day in another way because 50 fans took a chartered bus from Stanford to Berkeley, thus avoiding traffic and parking hassles and enjoying the camaraderie. The fun started when Marian Cortesi, who authors Stories of the Season on this Fast Break Club site, gave everyone homemade brownies as they got on the bus.
Then her husband, Dave Cortesi, who serves as the FBC’s travel chair, added to the fun by showing a video of Stanford’s memorable 98-87 victory over Maryland in the 2008 NCAA regional in Spokane, thus earning a trip to the Final Four in Tampa. That time the Stanford bus was driven by then-senior guard Candice Wiggins, who poured in 41 points, aided by 23 points from then-sophomore guard JJ Hones. Kayla, then a freshman, had three 3-pointers. Even though the sound wasn’t working, it was easy to see how well the team played.
(Not so trivial question: What team was the last to beat Connecticut and when? The answer: Stanford, 82-73, in the first game of the Final Four in Tampa.)
Another perk of taking the bus to the game was that those fans had comfortable reserved-seat tickets, a real luxury at Haas Pavilion, where most seats have no backs.
The fans’ seats were across from a section filled with people wearing red T-shirts handed out by Jayne’s parents and emblazoned with “House of Jayne.” They also received placards with a head shot of Jayne. Those people were her relatives and friends, there to honor her at her last regular-season game. We can hope to see them again in two weeks when Stanford hosts the first round of the NCAA tournament, presumably with the Cardinal as a top seed.
Since it was Cal’s Senior Day, Jayne and class of 2010 teammates JJ, guard Melanie Murphy and forward Michelle Harrison, along with fifth-year senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, were given flowers. Then Cal’s three seniors – Lauren Greif, Natasha Vital and Alexis Gray-Lawson – were escorted in by their families for the crowd’s accolades. However, Haas’ sound system was so distorted that it was difficult to hear what was said.
With Jayne at the end of the bench next to sophomore center Sarah Boothe, who hasn’t played all season following foot surgery, freshman forward Joslyn Tinkle got the first start of her college career. The tip-off was loud, with Cal fans waving the rally towels placed on most seats (mine will be put to good use at home). Cal scored the first four points, but Kayla tied the score at 6-6 about five minutes into the game, and then put her team ahead for good with another basket two minutes later.
Stanford fans had another reason to cheer just a minute later when the Stanford band and the Tree put in their first lively appearance.
The score was 26-19 at the half. Uncharacteristically, Stanford had made no 3s during that half. Joslyn supplied both of Stanford’s only 3s in the second half and wound up with eight points and nine rebounds.
Returning to Stanford, the bus riders heard a recording of the band playing “It’s All Right,” before fan Deb Gumbley announced the stats, reading from her electronic device. The bus got back to Stanford about 3:40 p.m., giving fans plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the day.
Part of my enjoyment was watching a tape of the game. Jayne was shown talking and laughing with Sarah before the tipoff. After the game, Jayne, who had injured her ankle in practice four days earlier, told commentator Mary Murphy that she believes she could have played against Cal and that she expects to play at the Pac-10 tournament in LA next weekend.
In their post-game interviews, both Nneka and Ros stressed how important Jayne is to the team and how much they wanted to win the game for her and to wind up undefeated in Pac-10 season play. They and their teammates succeeded. Now it’s on LA, where we hope to see Jayne driving the bus again.
March 8, 2010
Bus keeps going to victory in Berkeley
“Jayne drives the bus.” That’s what head coach Tara VanDerveer often says about the offensive strategy of the Stanford women’s basketball team.