November 3, 2011

Freshmen frolic in Maples debut

All six freshmen got into the scoring column as the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated UC San Diego 106-56 in the season’s first exhibition game Nov. 2 at Maples Pavilion.

Before the game, there was much speculation about how the newcomers would fare, but “all the freshmen played well,” one fan commented during an informal discussion in the south concourse immediately after the game.

When it came to scoring, freshman forward Bonnie Samuelson led her classmates with 15 points – going five for seven on 3-pointers – in just 10 minutes of playing time. She also recorded one assist.

For the team, scoring honors went to sophomore forward Chiney Ogwumike with 19 points, followed by her sister, senior forward Nneka, with 17 and junior forward Joslyn Tinkle with 16. Both Chiney and Joslyn made eight of their nine shots. Rebounding honors went to Chiney with 14 and Joslyn with 11.

The starting lineup featured team captain Nneka plus Chiney along with senior guard Lindy La Rocque, sophomore guard Sara James and, at the point, sophomore guard Toni Kokenis. Freshman guard Jasmine Camp was first off the bench, subbing for Toni less than 3 minutes into the game. Joslyn and freshman forward Taylor Greenfield were next, soon followed by freshman guard Amber Orrange.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, all 14 healthy players had played and scored. Only junior forward Mikaela Ruef, who was in uniform but has had a sore foot, remained on the sidelines, but she did the high-five honors every time a Cardinal made a 3-pointer. She made that trip along the bench eight times thanks to Bonnie’s five, plus one each by Lindy, Sara (the game’s first) and senior guard Grace Mashore.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer used various combinations of players throughout the game, but no one played more than 20 minutes (Joslyn and Jasmine). There were a few times when as many as four freshmen were on the floor together, but always there was an experienced player with them to provide leadership if needed.

During one of those times, Joslyn was the veteran with the freshmen, bringing to mind her outstanding performances with them during summer league play at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.

The score was 47-24 in Stanford’s favor at the half. Following halftime entertainment by 12 members of Stanford Taekwando, the Cardinal outscored the visitors 59-32, leading to the 50-point margin of victory.

By game’s end, the freshmen had logged significant minutes: Taylor with 19, just behind Jasmine’s 20, followed by Amber with 18, forward Erica Payne with 16, Bonnie with 10 and guard Alex Green with six.

Even though UCSD was outmatched, the players were scrappy and didn’t let up. A few fans and a spirited bench cheered them on. UCSD pressed fairly often, but Stanford pressed back, especially in the second half.

Stanford’s bench was equally supportive, especially of plays by the freshmen. Alex was the last newcomer to see action, but it was her first in nearly a year after an ACL injury early in her high school senior season. Her arrival was greeted by applause and cheers that were even louder when she scored the first basket of her college career.

Some other stats of note: Stanford outrebounded UCSD 54-23, had 21 assists to UCSD’s six and notched only 13 turnovers to the visitors’ 17. Amber had the highest number of assists with seven. UCSD had 20 fouls to Stanford’s 17. Redshirt junior center Sarah Boothe was the only player to foul out.

Also noteworthy, the band, Tree and Dollies were there to cheer the team, something that hasn’t always been in case in previous exhibition games. Betty Ann Boeving was back as announcer.

As some fans discussed the game in the south concourse, there was some debate but no conclusion about the merits of Amber vs. Jasmine, both speedy, seemingly fearless guards.

For the entire team, “there were a lot of nice plays,” one fan concluded.

The next exhibition game is against Vanguard at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, in Maples.

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