December 23, 2013

Holiday cheer prevails as team beats Tennessee

There were plenty of presents under the Tree for the Stanford women’s basketball team and its fans when the Tennessee Lady Vols came to Maples Pavilion on Dec. 21.

First – Stanford, ranked No. 6 at the time, upset No. 3 Tennessee 76-70.

Second – Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike had a dominating game, playing all 40 minutes, scoring 32 points and snaring 20 rebounds to go with one assist, three blocks and one steal. When she scored her 14th point with about 6:38 to go in the first half, she surpassed Jeanne Ruark Hoff, ’83, to rank seventh on Stanford’s all-time scoring list. Two days later, on Dec. 23, Chiney was unanimously named espnW's National Player of the Week.

Third – All 15 players were in uniform for the first time this season. Because the Lady Vols remained within striking distance throughout the game, however, only nine players had any playing time.

Fourth – Wearing “Fear the Tree” sweatshirts, Stanford football players were in the northeast bleachers to cheer their fellow nerds and to show their moves for the Dance Cam. The men paraded onto the court during halftime with their Pac-12 Conference championship trophy and the Axe trophy, which goes to the winner of the annual Big Game against Cal.

Fifth – A reported 6,044 fans were on hand despite competition from shopping and other holiday activities. Only a smattering of them wore Tennessee orange.

The list could go on from there, but suffice it to say that this was indeed a gift-wrapped victory.

Fans get rally towels with slogan

Upon entering Maples, many fans received red rally towels with “WHOSE HOUSE? C-HOUSE” in prominent white letters.

This slogan comes from a football team tradition. As senior free safety Ed Reynolds explained at halftime, the team chants this question and response at every game, starting softly and building to a roar. He then led his teammates and fans in the chant.

C-House also is the name given to a Stanford football video series that began just before the 2013 season. C-House stands for Cardinal-House.

The gridders’ halftime appearance included comments from senior running back Tyler Gaffney, the team’s MVP. He noted that some 30,000 Stanford fans are going to Pasadena on New Year’s Day for the team’s second consecutive Rose Bowl appearance. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the game.

Head coach David Shaw thanked Tyler for deciding to return to Stanford after a year away to play professional baseball.

Starters carry the scoring load

When the game began, head coach Tara VanDerveer used a familiar starting lineup of Chiney, redshirt senior forward Mikaela Ruef, senior guard Sara James, freshman guard Lili Thompson and junior point guard Amber Orrange. They accounted for 65 of the team’s 76 points.

The only bench player to score was junior forward Taylor Greenfield, who played 30 minutes. She had 11 points, 9 of them from three 3-pointers. The third of those 3’s came just 3 seconds before the halftime buzzer to put the Cardinal up 37-29.

Also seeing action were redshirt sophomore guard Alex Green and freshman forwards Erica McCall and Kailee Johnson. Kailee was wearing a face mask after suffering a nose injury in the New Mexico game on Dec. 16.

Stanford’s total of seven 3’s included three from Lili, who had a career high 14 points in her 35 minutes. Amber, who had 9 points in 34 minutes, made the other 3.

Stanford never trails after opening minutes

After Tennessee had scored the game’s first 4 points, the Cardinal went to work, pulled ahead and never trailed.

Even though Tennessee had 18 fouls to Stanford’s 16, the Lady Vols were more successful at the free-throw line, making 18 of 25, or 72 percent. Stanford cashed in on only 13 of 21 free throws for 61.9 percent.

On the other hand, Stanford out-rebounded Tennessee 43-40 and had five blocks to the opponent’s two.

Stanford maintained an edge of around 8 or 9 points for most of the game, but the Lady Vols made the score uncomfortably close, 70-68, with just over a minute left.

That’s when Amber made one of her signature drives to the basket, scored and was fouled. Her successful free throw, followed by two from Mikaela and one from Chiney put the game on ice for the Cardinal.

Now the team has a short break before returning right after Christmas to prepare for its game at Fresno State on Dec. 28. That will be its last non-conference game before Pac-12 competition starts Jan. 3 with a visit from Oregon.

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