April 24, 2013

Thanks for the memories, Part 2 of 3

After compiling an 11-1 record in games against non-conference opponents in 2012, the Stanford women’s basketball team was ready for Pac-12 competition as 2013 began.

Colorado was first on the schedule Jan. 4 as Stanford traveled to Boulder and left with a 57-40 victory. As had been the case in the latter part of 2012, the starters were redshirt junior forward Mikaela Ruef, junior forward Chiney Ogwumike, senior forward Joslyn Tinkle, junior guard Toni Kokenis and sophomore guard Amber Orrange.

All of them played at least 27 minutes and got into the scoring column except for Toni, who played 10 minutes and had no points.

With 20 points and 11 rebounds, Chiney logged her 10th consecutive double-double. The team recorded its 79th conference win.

It extended that streak to 80 on Jan. 6 when it visited Utah and left with a 70-56 victory. Even though she had a team-high 20 points, Chiney had only six rebounds, ending her double-double streak.

The starting lineup featured Mikaela, Chiney, Amber and Joslyn. Sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield started in place of Toni, who wasn’t feeling well, head coach Tara VanDerveer reported later. Coming off the bench, junior guard Sara James was second on the team with a career-high 18 points.

Battle of the Bay, Round 1

Still on the road, the Stanford women crossed the bay to meet traditional rival Cal on Jan. 8. Ranked No. 5 nationally after the Dec. 29 loss to UConn, the Cardinal pulled out a 62-53 win in a seesaw contest.

The first half ended with Cal ahead 31-29 on a fast-break basket at the buzzer. The score continued to go back and forth through about half of the second half when the Cardinal began to pull away for good. For the game, the score was tied 13 times and the lead changed eight times.

Chiney had a game-high 26 points plus six rebounds, while Amber contributed 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. The other three starters – Joslyn, Toni and Mikaela – also scored. On the other hand, the bench added only 1 point, and there were no 3-pointers.

Battle of the Bay, Round 2

In a quirk of scheduling, Stanford and Cal met again on Jan. 13, this time at Stanford and this time with a different result: Cal won 67-55. Thus Cal ended Stanford’s 81-game conference winning streak.

Stanford had an 8-point lead at the 14:38 mark, but Cal began inching up to build a 39-31 advantage at the half.

Playing 39 minutes, Chiney had 18 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Toni was the only other Cardinal in double figures, tallying 12 points plus six rebounds in her 37 minutes.

The only other players to score were the other three starters – Amber, Joslyn and Mikaela – plus Taylor, Sara and sophomore forward Erica Payne off the bench.

At the half, fans saluted the Stanford football team for its Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin on New Year’s Day, its defeat of Cal in the traditional Big Game and its Pac-12 conference championship.

The post-game Behind the Bench featured a visit by Jayne Appel, ’10, who had recently returned to her East Bay home after playing professionally in China. Jayne will return to her American team, the San Antonio Silver Stars, for the WNBA season, which starts in May.

Commenting on the game, associate head coach Amy Tucker cited the team’s lack of aggressiveness in the first half and noted that “the game was very physical. …This was a tough wake-up call,” she said, but several issues are correctable.

Back on the victory trail

Shooting 52.9 percent, the Cardinal rebounded from the Cal loss by giving the visiting UCLA a 75-49 shellacking Jan. 18.

Tara tweaked the starting lineup, inserting Sara in place of Mikaela at the small forward spot. Sara played 17 minutes and contributed 7 points and three rebounds. Coming off the bench, Mikaela played 28 minutes and added 3 points and seven rebounds.

The biggest numbers came from Chiney, who led both teams with 25 points and 13 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. Unlike some other games, she often faced only single coverage, which she outmaneuvered. Other times, her teammates saw her alone under the basket and passed her the ball for an easy score.

Joslyn added 16 points and six rebounds. She made a 3-pointer early in the game, then sent the crowd aroar with three in succession during its final minutes. Amber had 15 points and one rebound.

After a relative dearth of 3’s, the team scored on six of seven attempts for an 85.7 percent average. Besides Joslyn’s four, Toni and sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson each had one.

As the team warmed up before the game, redshirt freshman guard Alex Green was in uniform for the first time. She had missed much of the previous season with an Achilles injury.

A week later, USC came calling and left with a 75-66 defeat. Fans already were in a good mood because the San Francisco 49ers had secured a Super Bowl berth with a 28-24 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Once again, Tara went with a starting lineup of Chiney, Joslyn, Sara, Toni and Amber. All except Toni, who had 5 points, scored in double figures.

The Cardinal had more or less cruised to a 33-20 lead over USC at the half and led by as much as 19 points, 43-24, at the 17:10 mark in the second half. The Women of Troy tried to come back and pulled to within 5 points twice, but Stanford prevailed.

Chiney was the standout again with 29 points and 16 rebounds. Joslyn made all three of her 3’s and finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Also scoring 3’s were Sara, Toni and Amber, all with one each.

Prior to this game, Stanford, Cal, USC and UCLA were all atop the Pac-12 with 4-1 records. However, Cal had beaten UCLA earlier in the day, so the Golden Bears and Cardinal moved to the top with 5-1 records as the first third of the conference season wrapped up.

Utah, Colorado visit Maples

Chiney and Joslyn led their team to a 65-44 home victory over Utah on Jan. 25. Chiney tallied 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Joslyn had 16 points and eight rebounds. She had scored the team’s first 7 points, all unanswered, and later knocked in two 3’s.

Joslyn also displayed sportsmanship about halfway through the first half when a Utah player crumpled to the floor under the Utah basket while everyone else ran the other way. When play stopped, Joslyn ran back to her and began helping her off the court until others from Utah arrived.

The evening had begun on a somber note with a moment of silence to honor John Pohlen, father of Jeanette Pohlen,’11. His memorial service had taken place earlier in the day. He died Dec. 23 at the age of 54. John and Jeanette’s mother, Cindy, attended nearly all of her games and endeared themselves to everyone. During the moment of silence, the video board showed a photo of Jeanette and her parents during the 2011 Senior Day.

The Colorado game on Jan. 27 ended with a 69-56 win for Stanford, but not before the host Cardinal overcame two scares.

Just as it seemed the fans could relax and soon see bench players take over, the then-No. 20 Buffaloes began chipping away at Stanford’s comfy 21-point lead about 5 minutes into the second half. Colorado narrowed the margin to 7 points with slightly more than 7 minutes to go, but the Cardinal began to get the upper hand and emerged with the win.

The second scare came at about the 8-minute mark in the second half when Chiney 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.

She finished the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Joslyn added 16 points and five rebounds, while Toni had 15 points and two rebounds, and Amber had 10 points and two rebounds.

For the first time this season, Amber didn’t start, but she played 36 minutes. Instead, Mikaela returned to the starting lineup, adding 2 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.

As they did in the Utah game, Mikaela and Joslyn got the crowd cheering with a slick in-bounds play. With about 2 seconds left on the shot clock, Joslyn inbounded the ball to Mikaela, who in turn passed it to Joslyn for an easy bucket.

“Mikaela and Joslyn invented that out-of-bounds play,” Tara said during the Behind the Bench.

Since it was Women in Sports day, the afternoon began with players from 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, it was announced that over the years, Stanford women’s teams have amassed 42 NCAA championships and 52 national championships altogether.

Then new athletic director Bernard Muir presented the school’s second consecutive Capital One Cup for best overall women’s record to seniors from the golf, soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse, volleyball, track and field, softball and field hockey teams.

The guest speaker for Behind the Bench was TV commentator Mary Murphy, who had just covered the game for the new Pac-12 Network. “This is a crew that’s committed to women’s basketball,” she said.

Tara praised the team’s unselfishness and improvement. She also pointed out an interesting Pac-12 fact: “We are the team that has won more road games than anyone else,” she said.

Road warriors

The team improved its road record with an 86-62 victory over Oregon on Feb. 1 and a 65-45 victory over Oregon State two days later. The Oregon game marked Tara’s 400th conference win.

Chiney added to her double-double record with 22 points and 13 rebounds against Oregon. The only other players in double figures were Joslyn with 16 and Sara with 11. The three of them had started, along with Amber and Toni.

Chiney scored a career-high 32 points against Oregon State and added 18 rebounds for yet another double-double. As a result of her play in the two Oregon games, she was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the fifth time this season, tying a record.

Also in double figures were Amber and Bonnie, each with 12. Bonnie’s points came on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Toni played 27 minutes without scoring in what would prove to be her last game of the season because of an undisclosed medical condition.

A weekend for milestones

Back at Maples the following week, Stanford defeated Arizona 73-43 on Feb. 8 as Chiney registered her seventh consecutive double-double and her 18th of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

This time, though, she had lots of help from her teammates, as Mikaela recorded the first double-double of her career with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Joslyn added 15 points and four rebounds.

Once again, the starting lineup was tweaked. This time, Chiney, Joslyn, Amber, Sara and Mikaela got the nod. It turned out that this lineup would continue for the rest of the season.

After Mikaela’s first double-double in the Arizona game, more milestones were reached in the 69-45 victory over Arizona State on Feb. 10, Breast Cancer Awareness Day. In addition to the pink seen on players, cheerleaders, Dollies, Tree and even the referees’ whistles, Sara’s father, Mike, wore the pink tutu that had been handed down by several dads before him, starting with Jayne’s dad in 2010.

It didn’t take long for Stanford to establish its dominance. With about 6 minutes to go in the first half, the score was 22-16, and Chiney had already racked up 10 points. She finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds for her eighth straight double-double, her 19th of the season. Her point total included 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Another game milestone came from Bonnie, who scored a career-high 19 points. She made 15 of those points from beyond the arc, her highest number this season.

Yet another milestone was reached when Alex got her first playing time in 15 months. Playing 3 minutes, she had one rebound and took one shot, which she missed. As the ball left her hands, her teammates jumped from the bench, waiting to cheer for her. It didn’t happen this time, but when the final buzzer sounded, several of them gave her a big hug.

And the final milestone – Joslyn had her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

At the Behind the Bench, Tara commented, “We’re getting a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. They’re like an orchestra. Different nights there are different solos.”

Off to Los Angeles

Visiting Los Angeles, Stanford added a 79-55 victory over USC and a 68-57 win over UCLA to its resume.

The USC game on Feb. 15 saw Chiney earn the 50th double-double of her career and her 20th of the season, a record, as she amassed 26 points and 15 rebounds. Joslyn also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Mikaela scored a career-high 12 points and contributed eight rebounds. Her scoring included her first 3-pointer this season.

The players were wearing their new black uniforms with CARDINAL instead of their names on the back.

Against UCLA, Chiney had 26 points and seven rebounds, but Mikaela had 10 of each, while Joslyn was close with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Easy win over Oregon State

With 6:39 to go and the score 78-39, the five starters relaxed on their home bench while their teammates closed out the game to help defeat Oregon State 90-53 on Feb. 22.

None of the starting five played more than 31 minutes, yet during that time, several more milestones were achieved.

For example, less than 2 minutes had expired in the second half when Joslyn became the 34th member of Stanford women’s basketball’s 1,000-point club. She finished the game with 11 points and four rebounds.

Chiney tied a Stanford record with her 51st career double-double by scoring 19 points to go with 12 rebounds. She scored 11 of her points by hitting a career-high 11 free throws (of 13 attempts).

She also made a play that could become the stuff of legend. While falling toward a photographer under the basket in the second half, she tossed the ball up in a wild shot that somehow went through the hoop.

She didn’t realize she had scored until her teammates pulled her up and told her. Her joy became even greater when she realized she would get a free throw, which she made. In the meantime, the team and crowd went wild as the video board ran several replays of those moments.

Taylor came off the bench to have the team’s second-highest point total with 18, matching her career high. Also in double figures was Amber with 15.

The Cardinal made 10 of 22 3-point attempts, led by Taylor’s four, plus two each from Sara and Joslyn and one each from Amber and Bonnie.

Mikaela, Joslyn honored at Senior Day

It was the last home game of the regular season, so it was time to honor Mikaela and Joslyn for Senior Day. Having been accepted in a Stanford graduate engineering program, Mikaela will play another season after red-shirting her junior year. However, she and Joslyn were both honored because they arrived at the Farm together in 2009.

The celebration followed the team’s 74-50 victory over Oregon on Feb. 24.

That game saw Chiney shatter two Stanford records held by her older sister, Nneka, who graduated in 2012. Chiney recorded her 52nd career double-double with 27 points and 24 rebounds. Her rebound total set the team’s single-game record.

She also became the sixth player to snare at least 1,000 career rebounds (1,010 to that date) and 1,000 points (1,600 to that date). Others who have achieved that milestone are Nneka; Jayne; Kayla Pedersen, ’11; Nicole Powell, ’04; and Val Whiting, ’93.

Amber was the only other player in double figures with 12 points plus one rebound.

Senior Day festivities followed the game as the video board showed highlights from Joslyn’s and Mikaela’s careers set to “Thank You for Being a Friend,” TV’s “Golden Girls” theme song.

Their teammates formed a reception line as Joslyn with her parents and Mikaela with her parents and grandparents walked to center court to receive flowers and hugs from Tara.

As of that game, Mikaela had played in 88 games and started 21. She had missed all but three games the previous season because of a foot injury. The game was Joslyn’s 134th.

Speaking for the team, Sara said she had become good friends with Mikaela and then Joslyn during her freshman year. “I’m really excited that she (Mikaela) is coming back next year,” Sara said.

Mikaela’s father, Mike, speaking for himself and her mother, Katie, said, “To raise a daughter like Mikaela is, in a word, challenging,” noting he had once lost an argument with her when she was 3 years old.

Tara praised Joslyn’s basketball instincts, energy and enthusiasm. Chiney, speaking for the team, said Joslyn is “such a special person.” Chiney said she wanted to frame Joslyn’s trademark red hair ribbon.

Washington trip completes conference season

Stanford wrapped up its Pac-12 season in fine style by going on the road to defeat Washington 71-36 on Feb. 28 and Washington State 72-50 on March 2.

Washington was missing two starters and one bench player who had been suspended for one game for violating team rules. Hence, only seven players were available.

Stanford fielded 10 players, led by Chiney with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Amber and Joslyn each had 12 points. Coming off the bench, Bonnie was second in scoring with 15 points, all from 3’s.

Against Washington State, 12 players got onto the court, led by Chiney with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Joslyn was the only other player in double figures, scoring 13 points plus three rebounds.

This game brought Chiney’s season total of rebounds to 381 to date, surpassing Nneka’s record of 376 in the 2009-10 season.

The win also left Stanford atop the Pac-12 conference with Cal. Each finished 17-1 in the conference, but Stanford secured the top seed for the upcoming conference tournament because it had one more season victory than Cal, thanks to the three-game tournament in Hawaii.

Next: the tournaments

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