March 26, 2013

One down, more to go

As more than 5,000 fans streamed into Maples Pavilion to watch the Stanford women’s basketball team take on Tulsa on March 24, some changes were immediately evident.

First, instead of just having their tickets scanned at the door, they had to open their bags to ensure that they didn’t have any water. Those who did had to dump it – so be forewarned.

Second, the venue has been transformed from all-Stanford to mostly-NCAA with the NCAA logo on the floor and NCAA features on the video board.

Third, the women’s basketball banner in the southeast corner has already been updated to add 2013 to the list of the team’s Pac-12 championships.

Fourth, the band sat in an upper corner rather on the risers at floor level.

Stanford struggles during first half

Fifth, although the faces and names were familiar, the team didn’t seem much like itself or a No. 1 seed during the first half of this first round of the NCAA tournament. Instead, it allowed the No. 16 seed Golden Hurricane to lead several times and to wind up in a 24-24 tie at halftime.

After that, the team that fans had come to see showed up for the second half and finished with a 72-56 victory and the chance to advance to the second round against the afternoon’s other winner, Michigan.

During the first half, the Cardinal had trouble beating the shot clock, either tossing up desperation shots at the last second or letting time expire. That in part explains why Stanford shot only 38.5 percent during that half (compared with 65.5 in the second half). Other turnovers also played a role as the pesky Tulsa defense stole the ball several times.

However, Tulsa’s defense couldn’t contain junior forward Chiney Ogwumike, who had already scored 12 of her 29 points with 7:33 to go in that half. On the other hand, she had to go to the bench with 2:21 to go because she had two fouls.

Three-pointers help the cause

Junior Sara James helped the Cardinal get going in the second half by scoring a quick 3-pointer, the first of two for her. Later, sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore guard Amber Orrange each added another. Sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield had scored the team’s other 3 during the first half.

Besides her 29 points, Chiney had eight rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in 35 minutes. The only other Cardinal in double figures was Amber, who had 14 points to go with six rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in a team-high 38 minutes.

Coming off the bench, Taylor came close with 9 points plus three rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes. In part she was filling for redshirt junior Mikaela Ruef, who started but played only 10 minutes, contributing eight rebounds and one assist.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer later said that Mikaela hadn’t practiced for two weeks because of an undisclosed injury.

When Chiney left the game with one minute to go, she was replaced by freshman forward/center Tess Picknell. Tess made the most of her limited time by scoring 2 points and snaring two rebounds.

After the game, the team gathered at the center circle, then left the court waving to the cheering fans. No victory balls this time – not in this NCAA venue.

Chiney gets hug from Candice

While her teammates left the floor, Chiney went over to TV commentator Mary Murphy for a quick interview, then responded to the crowd’s cheers with waves and a smile. As she neared the tunnel to the locker room, she was hugged by former Stanford star Candice Wiggins, ’08.

Candice was recently traded from the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx to the Tulsa Shock. There she will join two other Stanford greats, Kayla Pedersen, who was drafted by the Shock in 2011; and Nicole Powell,’04, who was just traded from the New York Liberty.

The second game featured No. 8 seed Michigan vs. No. 9 seed Villanova. Watching intently at an official table were associate head coach Amy Tucker and assistants Kate Paye and Trina Patterson, who were scouting their team’s next opponent. Tara came in to watch with about 12 minutes to go in the first half and sat with her sister Heidi in the stands near the Villanova bench.

The Stanford players watched part of the first half from the south stands, then departed at halftime, when the score was 26-24 in Michigan’s favor. While they sat there, Chiney graciously posed for pictures with several children.

Michigan pulled ahead during the second half and finished with a 60-52 victory and the chance to advance to the second game against Stanford at 6:30 p.m. March 26.

The winner joins the ranks of the Sweet 16 and goes to Spokane for the regional starting March 30 with the tournament’s round 3. The round 4 game is April 1.

1 comment:

  1. Second tip to water bottle owners: NCAA rules allow you to bring in an empty water bottle that you can fill at a drinking fountain.