The Fresno State Bulldogs gave the Stanford women’s basketball team all it could handle, but the Cardinal prevailed 72-61 to win its home and season opener Nov. 9.
Besides extending the nation’s best home winning streak to 80, the game also was an occasion to honor military veterans for Veterans Day and to honor the San Francisco Giants for its World Series championship.
The Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, was on hand, and many fans wore Giants gear. For example, the Twist Cam winner sported a Giants jersey with Posey – for catcher/slugger Buster Posey – on the back.
During another timeout, Lou and the Tree tossed T-shirts and mini-balls into the crowd.
During halftime, the video board showed World Series highlights, starting with the final out of the fourth game in St. Louis and ending with the Oct. 31 celebration in San Francisco.
Lou and the Tree followed this up by dancing together at center court, where the Tree shed her costume and did the worm.
Before all this fun, veterans in the crowd were asked to come to the court at halftime to accept the fans’ applause. Another veteran in attendance was retired Navy Cmdr. Zoe Dunning, who served as honorary captain for the Cardinal.
According to her website, Zoe, a graduate of Annapolis and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, came out as a lesbian while studying at Stanford and serving in the Navy Reserves to protest Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She won her discharge hearing, served as the only openly gay U.S. service member for 13 years and retired with 22 years’ service. At his invitation, she stood next to President Barack Obama when he signed the repeal of DODT in 2010.
As announcer Betty Ann Boeving read off Zoe’s accomplishments before the tipoff, the crowd’s cheers grew louder and louder.
Stanford’s starting forwards were senior Joslyn Tinkle, junior Chiney Ogwumike and sophomore Taylor Greenfield. At the guard spots were junior Sara James and sophomore Amber Orrange.
Coming off the bench during the game were sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson, redshirt junior forward Mikaela Ruef, redshirt freshman guard Jasmine Camp and junior guard Toni Kokenis, a 2011-12 starter who was seeing her first action of this season.
The game stayed close during the first half, which ended 34-29 in Stanford’s favor. It was tied 42-42 with 15:02 to go in the second half when the Cardinal went on a 14-2 run. One highlight of that run was a steal and score by Toni. Still, Fresno State refused to give up, but Stanford stayed ahead and won.
Playing a huge role in the win were Chiney’s 23 points and 17 rebounds in 40 minutes, along with Joslyn’s 20 points and eight rebounds in 39 minutes. Amber was the only other Cardinal in double figures, scoring 14 along with a team-leading five assists in 36 minutes. She also had five of the team’s 12 turnovers. Fresno State had 14.
Unusual for Stanford, the team was outrebounded 44-41. But Stanford had nine blocks, including four by Chiney and three by Joslyn, compared with the Bulldogs’ one. Steals were even at six each.
After making 27 3-point shots in the two exhibition wins, Stanford was limited to just one – by Taylor.
After the game, fans had a chance to gather for a Behind the Bench session. As Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, was making some introductory comments, freshman guard Denia Ebersole walked across the court and greeted a group of friends with signs supporting her.
Taking note of Denia’s fan club, Eileen said she had attended head coach Tara VanDerveer’s hoops camp in high school. She is among the 36 Stanford players who were former campers, Eileen said.
When associate head coach Amy Tucker arrived with Joslyn and freshman center/forward Tess Picknell, fan Lily Wong gave Amy a T-shirt and plaque to commemorate her induction into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame during the summer.
In keeping with a tradition for freshmen, Tess talked a little about herself. Hailing from Medford, Ore., she said she has an older sister who attends the University of Oregon. Her father was at the game. Her mother teaches at the Southern Oregon University in nearby Ashland. Three dogs complete her family.
Asked what she has been learning as a Cardinal, she said she’s working on defensive techniques and learning new ways to play offense, thanks to Amy.
She started playing basketball in second grade. As for college, “Stanford’s always been my dream school.” She told Stanford of her interest, but when Amy came to a game, her team lost. Tess feared that was that, but then she got a call telling her to try harder. When she learned she had been accepted at Stanford, she stopped considering any other school.
“Tess was quite the enforcer,” Amy said.
When Joslyn got the microphone, she said she had spent most of the summer at home in Missoula, Mont., “good old Big Sky County.” She worked out at the University of Montana, where her father is the men’s basketball coach. He also gave her some tips. She took some breaks to return to Stanford to help at hoops camp.
During that time she also tried to focus on filling the shoes of Chiney’s older sister, Nneka, who graduated in June after a stellar college career. She’s working on rebounding and being more aggressive, Joslyn said, adding, “I know my team relies on me a lot more this year.”
“Joslyn gave us great energy (and) got us going inside,” Amy said.
Now, Joslyn said, she is “trying to slow this year down as much as possible,” since it’s her last at Stanford.
She’s looking forward to the Dec.2 game at Gonzaga, where her sister is a freshman on the basketball team. Her parents are already making “Stan/zaga” shirts, she said.
In the meantime, she’s looking forward to revenge and redemption against Baylor, which defeated Stanford in the semi-final round of the Final Four in Denver and went on to win the national championship. Stanford and Baylor will face off Nov. 16 during a four-team tournament in Hawaii.
After meeting with the media, Tara came out to talk with the fans. “We are obviously a work in progress,” she said, but she cited the contributions made by several players.
“We didn’t shoot well tonight,” she said, alluding to the 49.2 percent rate. And even though Bonnie didn’t score after her 3’s led the team in scoring in both exhibitions, she “did a nice job defensively,” Tara said.
“This is a young team. It’s going to take awhile to gel,” Tara concluded.