That was the case Aug. 7 when Golden State lost to Mission Recreation Center 77-61 in the first championship game of San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am play at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco. The two teams meet again Aug. 8 in the two-of-three competition.
Of the nine Golden State players in uniform on Saturday, five were from Stanford – red shirt sophomore center Sarah Boothe, sophomore forward Mikaela Ruef, freshman forward Chiney Ogwumike and freshman guards Sara James and Toni Kokenis.
Back: Coach Chris Valentino, Natalie Jones (Arizona/Germany), Lena Gipson (Santa Clara), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Sarah Boothe (Stanford), Mikaela Ruef (Stanford), Jackie Sheppard (UCLA), Coach Steve Neal. Front: Dellena Criner (Nevada/Poland), Sara James (Stanford), Toni Kokenis (Stanford), Rometra Craig (USC).
Mission Rec fielded only seven players, but their quickness and sharp shooting, especially from the free-throw line and the 3-point arc, were too much for Golden State.
Back: Coach Rudy Russell, Whitney Sutak (Santa Clara), Nicole Harris (Cal Berkeley), Lauren Bell (Pepperdine), Kamilah Jackson (Hawaii), Jazmine Jackson (Pepperdine), Coach LaRyan Russell. Front: Toni Russell (USF/Montenegro), Amanda Lassiter (WNBA/Spain).
For its part, Golden State was plagued by fouls, turnovers, poor shooting and lack of teamwork. Too often a player would try to get to the basket by herself instead of passing off to a more open teammate.
The closest Golden State came to good team play was when all five Stanford players were on the court, but that happened for only slightly more than two minutes in the first half. They have been playing pickup games on campus with teammates who are in summer school, so they presumably have a good notion of teamwork. However, they don’t practice with their Golden State teammates. For its part, Mission Rec reportedly does practice together.
Moreover, Golden State hadn’t played for two weeks because it was the No. 1 seed. During that time, Mission Rec played and won two games to earn its spot in the finals.
Chiney, Sarah and Sara were in the starting lineup, but Sarah picked up her second foul at 17:16 and went to the bench, followed by Sara for the same reason at 15:01. Both returned to action later.
According to my unofficial figures, Mikaela led her Stanford teammates with 12 points and 10 rebounds, closely followed by Chiney with 12 points and nine rebounds. Toni had three points, three rebounds and a steal, while Sara had two points and five rebounds. Sarah was held scoreless, but she had four rebounds. They all played good defense and showed a lot of quickness.
The score was 30-24 in Mission Rec’s favor at the half. Then within the span of 75 seconds, Mission Rec was up 37-24. Mission Rec also was called for two technicals during the game, one on the coach and one on a player.
The game drew a large crowd of Stanford fans, including Sara’s parents and the family dog, Sadie. Also in the stands were Left Coast Hoops writer Michelle Smith (this is her report) and four Stanford players – senior forward Kayla Pedersen, senior guard Jeanette Pohlen, junior forward Nneka Ogwumike and junior guard Lindy La Rocque.
The second and possibly deciding game is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at Kezar Pavilion, 755 Stanyan St. at Waller at the east end of Golden Gate Park. Admission is free. There’s paid parking next door. Allow plenty of time for heavy traffic.
If Golden State wins, the deciding game will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14.