July 12, 2010

Stanford players lead team to victory

For the first time this summer, all five Cardinal players who signed up for the San Francisco Pro-Am women’s basketball league played at Kezar Pavilion. In the process, they led their now-3-1 Golden State team to an 86-77 victory over still-winless Bay Pride.

All five also showed up in my unofficial scoring column with freshman guard Sara James leading her team with 15 points, including three 3’s. Two forwards, freshman Chiney Ogwumike and sophomore Mikaela Ruef, were close behind with 12 points each. Mikaela’s total included two 3’s.

Red-shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe chipped in 10 points, while freshman guard Toni Kokenis added 4. Thus the fivesome accounted for 53 of their team’s 86 points.

They also contributed rebounds, led by Sarah’s 12. Chiney had six, and Mikaela and Sara had five each, while Toni had three. As for steals, Chiney had three, Sara and Toni two each, and Mikaela one.

Sarah and Sara started the game. Chiney joined them with 17:33 to go in the first half, followed by Mikaela at 16:28 and Toni at 15:08. Thus all five Stanford players were on the court until 12:10, when Sara and Chiney went to the bench after picking up their second fouls. All of them were in and out after that, but no one fouled out. Chiney came close with four fouls, and Sarah had three. Mikaela had two, while the guards had one each.

Bay Pride fielded only five players, who thus had to play the entire game, while Golden State had 10. Nevertheless, Bay Pride kept the score relatively close, especially in the second half. Fouls and traveling calls caused Golden State the most problems.

It was fun to see the five Stanford women playing together. One could also sense the rapport that’s developing among them. The rapport also was evident as senior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior guard Jeanette Pohlen and junior forward Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney’s sister, arrived to cheer for their teammates.

Sarah, who didn’t play last season while recovering from foot surgery and who had missed last week’s game, once again impressed the fans with her quickness in transition and her toughness under the basket. She missed a few easy shots early in the game but regained her touch later on, making some close but tough shots. Mikaela, who had joined her teammates just last week, seemed more focused this time.

The three freshmen continued to impress. Sara is not only a scoring threat but also a bulldog on defense. One could picture her as the defensive successor to the graduated Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. Even though fouls have limited Chiney’s playing time, she shows tremendous promise. More than one fan commented that she and Nneka are likely to give most opponents more than they can handle, especially when Kayla, Jeanette and other returning players are added to the mix. Toni, like Sara, is fast, tough and apparently fearless. It’ll be fun to see how these three contribute once they’ve had the benefit of working with the Cardinal coaches.

Golden State’s final regular game is at noon Saturday, July 17. Playoffs are scheduled July 24 and 31, Aug. 7, 8 and possibly Aug. 14. All games are at Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St. at Waller on the east side of Golden Gate Park. There’s paid parking next door. For more information go to SF Bay Area Pro-Am.

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