December 17, 2012

Pacific helps Cardinal extend streaks

It was cold and rainy outside, but Maples Pavilion was warm and cozy Dec. 15 as the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated University of the Pacific 78-43.

Thus the No. 1-ranked Cardinal extended its season record to 9-0 and the nation’s best ongoing home winning streak to 82.

Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike played a big role in the victory with yet another double-double – a career-high 31 points plus 13 rebounds – to go with two assists, three steals and one block. Despite being double-teamed most of the time, she did all that in only 28 minutes, spending nearly the last seven minutes on the bench, soon to be joined by her fellow starters.

Leading her team in scoring isn’t Chiney’s only good quality. She also cares about her teammates, For example, as the game wound down, she moved to the end of the bench to sit and talk with her two sidelined teammates, freshman forward Aly Beebe and sophomore guard Alex Green.

Aly is out for the season while she recuperates from an ACL injury, but it is hoped that Alex can return to action early next year after missing most of last season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Mikaela contributes career-high rebounds, assists

Also joining Chiney with career highs was redshirt junior forward Mikaela Ruef, who added career highs of 13 rebounds and five assists. She also had three blocks in 20 minutes. Although she scored only 2 points, her other stats reflect her value to the team.

Senior forward Joslyn Tinkle was the only other Cardinal in double figures with 10 points. She also had four rebounds, one assist and one block in her 28 minutes.

The other two starters, junior guard Toni Kokenis and sophomore guard Amber Orrange, had 8 and 9 points, respectively. Toni also had three assists and a steal in 26 minutes. Amber, who played a team-high 30 minutes, had two rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Coming off the bench, junior guard Sara James added 6 points, while sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson contributed 5 and freshman forward/center Tess Picknell added 3. Sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield and sophomore guard Jasmine Camp each had 2.

Despite the lopsided score, the Stockton team played tough defense, especially on the perimeter. Therefore, Stanford had no 3-pointers in the first half, which ended 42-27, and only two in the second. That’s when Sara and Bonnie were successful. As a team, the Cardinal made 18.2 percent of its 3’s.

Another reason why the Cardinal lagged in the 3-point column may have been that Taylor, who has had the hot hand from beyond the arc, was injured when she was fouled under the Stanford basket with 14:49 to go in the second half.

After being attended to by trainer Marcella Shorty and another woman for several minutes, Taylor was able to get up and walk to the locker room with their assistance as the crowd applauded. She didn’t return. There was no official word on her injury or condition.

Fans honor victims of school shooting

Another somber moment came at the start of the game, when announcer Betty Ann Boeving asked the crowd of more than 4,200 to stand for a moment of silence in honor of the 20 children and six adults shot to death by a gunman who then took his own life at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. He had killed his mother before going to the school.

This was followed by the national anthem, sung by sophomore Natasha von Kaeppler, who was the team manager last season and who fulfilled those duties during the game.

Because Stanford was on a holiday break after final exams, the band was relatively small, and the Tree, Dollies and cheerleaders weren’t there.

Dog lovers have their day

Nevertheless, there was still plenty of fun to be had, thanks to the annual Dog Lovers Day. It included numerous funny dog videos, film clips of movie dogs and photos of dogs belonging to fans and some of the coaches and players. Bonnie was shown with her dog, who sported nerd glasses, complete with tape across the bridge.

The highlight of Dog Lovers Day came at halftime with the return visit by eight agility dogs and their trainers from Bay Team. Ranging in size from a Corgi and a Pomeranian to Zoe, a 12-year-old black and white spotted Great Dane, the dogs ran over and through a series of obstacles and tunnels. Several of the dogs are therapy and/or service dogs.

As the obstacle course was being set up, fans honored Mary Cortani, founder of Gilroy-based Operation Freedom Paws. Saluted by CNN as one of its top 10 heroes of the year, Mary said her organization trains veterans to train their own service dogs in a 48-week program. As of last week, the group was serving its 91st vet, she said. The dogs come from shelters and rescue groups.

Alumnae return to watch

Several alumnae were on hand, including Morgan Clyburn, ’09, and Markisha Coleman, ’07, who were leading their Menlo-Atherton High School girls basketball team on a field trip to the game. Morgan is the team’s new head coach, assisted by Markisha and Lindy La Rocque, ’12.

Melanie Murphy, ’11, also was there as a spectator and stopped by the bench before the game. The traditional Twist Cam also focused briefly on her during a timeout.

The name of Jayne Appel, ’10, came up via 6’5” Tess, who was the focus of the game’s “Get to Know the Freshmen” video feature. Besides brief answers about things like her dorm and favorite food, Tess named Jayne as her favorite athlete. Jayne, one of Stanford’s all-time greats, plays for the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars. During this WNBA off-season, the 6’4” center is playing in China.

Next on the Stanford schedule is a week-long road trip that will find the team facing No. 24 South Carolina on Dec. 19 and No. 13 Tennessee on Dec. 22. After a three-day break for Christmas, the players will return to the Farm to prepare for the much-anticipated match against No. 2 UConn on Dec. 29.

December 3, 2012

Stanford, Chiney dominate Davis

Even if junior forward Chiney Ogwumike hadn’t scored a career-tying 27 points at UC Davis on Nov. 30, the Stanford women’s basketball team still would have won – a tribute to the Cardinal’s depth and teamwork.

Stanford won the game 87-38, a 49-point margin. Subtract Chiney’s 27 points, and the score is 60-38, a 22-point margin as the team wrapped up the month with a 7-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in national polls.

Moreover, Chiney didn’t score her first basket until the 15:33 mark in the first half. Instead, junior guard Toni Kokenis started the scoring parade with a 3-pointer, followed by a 2 from senior forward Joslyn Tinkle, another 3 from Toni, a 2 from sophomore guard Amber Orrange and yet another 3 from Toni at the 16:45 mark, when Stanford led 13-6. Chiney’s first basket made the score 15-6.

After that, there was little that the hard-playing but outmatched Aggies could do against the onslaught by Chiney and her teammates. At the half, the score was 46-19, and Chiney had equaled Davis’s output with 19 points of her own. She also had 11 rebounds for a double-double in just one half.

Besides her 27 points, Chiney contributed 13 rebounds, two assists, three blocks and a steal in 31 minutes. Toni, who had gone three-for-three on 3’s, finished with 11 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal in 22 minutes. The only other player in double figures was junior guard Sara James, who tallied 10 points to go with two rebounds, three assists and two steals in 19 minutes.

Everyone gets in on the action

Head coach Tara VanDerveer used all 13 available players. With about 7 minutes to go in the game, the starters were done for the night.

The only player who didn’t show up in any statistic was sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson, who had played only three minutes in the first half before heading to the locker room with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Fans were relieved to see her walk back into the gym shortly after the second half had started, but she remained on the bench.

Otherwise, everyone else made some kind of contribution. Even freshman guards Kiran Lakhian and Denia Ebersole, who don’t get much time, got into the act. Kiran had 2 points and three rebounds in four minutes. Denia capitalized on her three minutes by making both of her 3-point shots for 6 points – her first points in a game that counts – much to the delight of her older teammates on the bench.

Another noteworthy bench contribution came from sophomore forward Erica Payne, who was second on the team with nine rebounds in addition to 7 points in 15 minutes.

Altogether, the team made nine of 21 3’s. Besides Toni’s three and Denia’s two, the others came from Sara and sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield with two each.

The Cardinal dominated the boards with 62 the to UCD’s 24. Stanford held the advantage in assists with 18, compared with UCD’s six. Likewise, Stanford had 12 blocks to UCD’s one.

Turnovers a minus for the team

The one blemish on the stat sheet was that Stanford had 17 turnovers, while Davis had 10. Part of the turnover advantage came from a tight Aggie defense that netted 11 steals, while Stanford had seven.

Despite the rainy weather, the game drew an official attendance of slightly more than 2,600. The majority of the fans appeared to be Davis students, most of whom remained standing throughout the game. Several dozen Stanford fans also were there. The team smiled and waved at them upon leaving the floor.

The Davis scoreboard doesn’t show individual stats. However, the announcer was quite informative, starting when Stanford took to the floor. He talked about the team’s No. 1 ranking and many of its accomplishments thus far. Introducing the UCD starting lineup, he included their majors in addition to their position, academic year, height and hometown. He also kept fans informed during the game.

Right before the game ended, word spread among Stanford fans that the school’s football team had defeated UCLA 27-24, thus winning the Pac-12 championship and securing a berth in the venerable Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day.

As fans were leaving after the game, they were serenaded in the drizzle by the Davis band, perched on and around an old fire engine just outside the gym.

In the meantime, Erica was inside being interviewed by the announcer for KZSU radio. Her mother, Laurie, sat nearby taking photos of her media star daughter.

The spotlight was back on the team Dec. 2 when Stanford defeated Gonzaga 69-41 in Spokane.

After a break for finals, the Cardinal return to action at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 when University of the Pacific comes to visit. It’s also Dog Lover’s Day, featuring agility dogs at halftime – always a big hit with fans.