November 18, 2011

Old Dominion overwhelmed

With the Stanford women’s basketball team dominating in every statistical category, overmatched Old Dominion fell to the Cardinal 97-48 on Nov. 17. It was the Cardinal team’s 65th consecutive home victory.

This game and the home opener against Gonzaga were the first that I can remember in a long, long time that all 15 players were healthy and available for action. In this game, all 15 did see action and contributed to the win in some way – if only for hustle and defense.

In terms of scoring, senior guard Lindy La Rocque led the way with a career-high 15 points, all of them from a career-high five 3-pointers. She was followed by fellow starters Nneka Ogwumike, senior forward, with 14 points and Chiney Ogwumike, sophomore forward, with 13.

The other two starters weren’t far behind. Freshman forward Taylor Greenfield had 8, and sophomore guard Toni Kokenis had 7. Coming off the bench to score in double figures were junior forward Joslyn Tinkle with 12 and redshirt junior center Sarah Boothe with 10.

Besides the fact that all 15 players got into the game, the night was memorable for 12 3-pointers. Besides Lindy’s five, they included sophomore guard Sara James’s three and Taylor’s two. Toni and freshman guard Jasmine Camp each had one.

Also noteworthy is that no one played more than 20 minutes, the total logged by Sarah. Of the starters, Taylor and Lindy had the most time with 17 minutes each. Nneka, Chiney and Toni each played 16 minutes.

Another good sign: Chiney made five of her six free throws, thus showing a big improvement in this aspect of her game.

And some other notable stats: 52 rebounds (Chiney with nine), 23 assists (Lindy and Jasmine each with four), four blocks (Sarah with two) and nine steals (freshman guard Amber Orrange with two). There were only seven fouls (no one with more than one) and 12 turnovers.

Before the game started, head coach Tara VanDerveer was presented with a plaque honoring her as the national Women’s Coach of the Year.

In the meantime, Old Dominion got off on the wrong foot before the game started when a technical foul was assessed for failure to report its starting lineup on time. (The same thing happened when Texas visited last year.) Toni made both free throws, making the score 2-0 before the first whistle.

When Nneka went for the opening tipoff, the play was somewhat different but quite effective. Rather than tipping the ball to Toni, who then would set up the half-court offense, Nneka tapped it to Chiney, who scored an easy layup. Shortly after that, Taylor made two consecutive 3s, making the score 10-4. There was no looking back after that. The score was 56-24 at the half.

All of the game stats indicate that the starters could sit back and enjoy the game while head coach Tara VanDerveer could allow their teammates, especially the other five freshmen, to gain valuable experience. They’ll need it with the Cardinal headed into a tough stretch of games, starting with Thanksgiving week on the road against UConn on Monday and Xavier on Friday.

The team reportedly was scheduled to fly to Connecticut on Nov. 19, giving it a day to adapt to the three-hour time difference before facing the Huskies. Geno Auriemma’s team will no doubt be seeking revenge for the way that Stanford snapped its unprecedented 90-game winning streak 71-59 when the Huskies visited on Dec. 30, 2010.

Rather than flying back to California after that and then back to the Eastern Time zone later in the week – a grueling prospect - the team will go to Ohio to prepare for its meeting with Xavier in Cincinnati on Friday. The team will celebrate Thanksgiving at the home of junior forward Mikaela Ruef in Beavercreek, Ohio, a Dayton suburb that’s some 52 miles north of Cincinnati. I can just imagine the look on the Ruefs’ neighbors’ faces when a bus pulls up in front of the house and 15 female athletes plus coaches and staff members file out.

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