After the Stanford women’s basketball team’s home loss to Cal on Jan. 13, head coach Tara VanDerveer said she wanted her players to be more aggressive.
Five days later, on Jan. 18, they responded, giving UCLA a 75-49 shellacking at Maples Pavilion. Although the Bruins led during the early going, Stanford pulled ahead and never looked back. Connecting on 52.9 percent of its shots, Stanford held the visitors to a season low for points scored and shooting percentage, 31.4.
Tara tweaked the starting lineup, inserting junior guard Sara James into the small forward spot in place of redshirt junior Mikaela Ruef. Sara played 17 minutes and contributed 7 points, three rebounds and one assist while showing a lot of hustle.
Mikaela came off the bench to play for 28 minutes, recording 3 points, five rebounds, three assists and one block.
As usual, junior forward Chiney Ogwumike led all scorers with 25 points plus 13 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. During her team-high 37 minutes, she added two assists, one block and one steal to the stat sheet. Unlike the smothering defenses she faced in recent games, she often seemed to draw only single coverage, which she easily outmaneuvered. A few other times, her teammates found her alone under the basket for an easy score.
Sophomore point guard Amber Orrange stepped up on both ends of the court, recording 15 points, one rebound, one assist and five steals in 24 minutes.
Senior forward Joslyn Tinkle delighted the crowd of 3,606 by making a 3-pointer early in the game, then making three in succession during its final minutes. Playing 30 minutes, she finished with a total of 16 points plus six rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Ten players saw at least three minutes of action, and seven of them scored. After a relative dearth of 3-pointers in recent games, the team scored on six of seven attempts for an 85.7 percent average. Besides Joslyn with four, sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson and junior guard Toni Kokenis had one each.
Stanford won the rebounding battle, 36-25. It also had more assists, 17-6, and fewer turnovers, 17-19. The two teams were even on fouls, 19 each, as the officiating was called more closely than in some recent games.
Toni was the game’s featured player, appearing on the tickets and in videos throughout the game. Two of them made reference to her playing in the band. In a video seen on the Fast Break Club site before the game, she asked fans to wear tie-dye in honor of one of her hobbies. A number of fans responded, including some youngsters in the family section, where they danced with the Tree near the end of the game.
As the team warmed up before the game, redshirt freshman guard Alex Green was in uniform for the first time. She had been sidelined by an Achilles injury since early last season. She sat at the end of the bench during the game and didn’t play, but it was good to see her progress. When the team lined up for introduction of the starters, sophomore forward Erica Payne gave her a quick hug.
Halftime featured the Stanford Bloomers, two six-woman teams ranging in age from 53 to 81. They played by 1949 rules that allowed only six players – three forwards and three opposing guards -- on each side of the court. Each player could dribble only twice in a possession, and guards couldn’t shoot. The players in red were all Stanford grads.
They were followed by introduction of the women’s water polo team, which has won two consecutive national championships and is hoping for a third this season. As the players left, they tossed mini-balls into the stands.
The victory over UCLA returned Stanford to the top of the Pac-12, tied with UCLA, USC and Cal with 4-1 records. The pecking order was due to change over the weekend with UCLA visiting Cal and USC visiting Stanford on Jan. 20.