Just when it seemed that fans could relax and soon see younger players take over, Colorado began chipping away at the Stanford women’s basketball team’s comfy 21-point lead about five minutes into the second half on Jan. 27.
The then-No.20 Buffaloes narrowed the margin to 7 points with slightly more than seven minutes to go, but the Cardinal began to get the upper hand and came away with a 69-56 victory to survive one scare.
The other scare came at about the eight-minute mark in the second half when the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, junior forward Chiney Ogwumike, fell and stayed on the floor for a few moments.
However, she got up to shoot her foul shots before going to the bench. With her ankle taped, she returned to action, much to the relief of the 3,904 fans at Maples. Head coach Tara VanDerveer said later that she had tweaked her ankle. “Chiney’s a warrior,” she said.
“We kept it interesting for you,” associate head coach Amy Tucker quipped during the post-game Behind the Bench session.
Chiney finished the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds, plus one assist and three blocks in 36 minutes.
Also scoring in double figures was senior forward Joslyn Tinkle, who had 16 points plus five rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal in her 36 minutes. Junior guard Toni Kokenis was right behind her with 15 points, two rebounds, five assists and two steals, in 36 minutes. Toni’s points included three 3’s.
Joining the double-figure group was sophomore guard Amber Orrange with 10 points, two rebounds, three assists and four steals also in 36 minutes.
For the first time this season, Amber did not start. Instead, redshirt junior forward Mikaela Ruef returned to the starting lineup. She had 2 points plus four rebounds and one assist in 21 minutes.
Mikaela, Joslyn come up with slick inbounds play
As they did in the Utah game, Mikaela and Joslyn got the crowd to cheering when Joslyn was to inbound the ball near the basket with about two seconds on the shot clock. She tossed it in to Mikaela, who in turn passed it to Joslyn, who scored an easy bucket.
“Mikaela and Joslyn invented that out-of-bounds play,” Tara said during the Behind the Bench.
Sophomore Bonnie Samuelson got her 3-point touch back as she connected on two in a row to help Stanford stave off the Colorado rally. She finished with 6 points and a rebound in eight minutes.
The aggressive Buffaloes won the rebounding and steal battles, 39-33 and 8-7, respectively, but Stanford led in blocking, 6-3. Stanford had fewer turnovers, 13 vs. 18, and fewer fouls, 12-18. Stanford shot at a 49.1 percent clip, while Colorado averaged only 36.1 percent.
Women in Sports celebrated
Since it was Women in Sports day, the afternoon began with players from several other women’s sports overseeing skills sessions in the west concourse before the game. Just a few steps away, fans could admire three women’s basketball trophies: the 2012 Pac-12 championship, the 2012 NCAA regional championship and Tara’s Hall of Fame trophy.
At the half, announcer Betty Ann Boeving said that over the years, Stanford women’s teams have amassed 42 NCAA championships and 52 national championships altogether.
Then athletic director Bernard Muir presented the school’s second consecutive Capital One Cup for overall best women’s record to seniors from the golf, soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse, volleyball, track and field, softball and field hockey teams as their teammates joined them on the court.
Participants in the Stanford Teacher Education Program, or STEP, also were honored during the half.
Mary Murphy speaks to fans
The guest speaker for Behind the Bench was TV commentator Mary Murphy, who had just covered the game for the Pac-12 Network. The first question she faced was when or if DIRECTV and AT&T’s U-Verse would carry the networks. She advised the fan to be patient. “I’m confident it will happen.”
She continued, “We’re in the infancy of this network,” which just got going in the fall. “This is a crew that is committed to women’s basketball,” she said.
Commenting on the game, she said she thought it was well balanced offensively. She also praised the play of Joslyn and Amber.
Tara lists her likes
When Tara emerged from post-game media interviews to speak at the Behind the Bench, she started with “This is a great weekend for us,” referring to the Colorado and earlier Utah wins.
“This was a great game by Toni,” she said, and “Bonnie’s 3’s were huge.” So far, “different people different nights” are stepping up, but “we’re going to need everyone playing well.”
She praised the team’s unselfishness, and said, “I’m real excited about the improvement our team is making.”
She also pointed out an interesting Pac-12 fact. “We are the team that has won more road games than anyone else.”
And in fact, the team will go on the road for games against the Oregon teams Feb. 1 and 3 before returning home to host the Arizona teams.