February 1, 2014

Stanford staves off Cal rally

It wasn’t just the relatively late hour that wearied many Stanford women’s basketball fans after Cal had come calling Jan. 30. It was the relatively close margin of victory as the No. 4 Cardinal survived a No. 21 Bears rally and won 70-64.

While the game was hard on fans, who just had to watch, it was even harder on the players, who had to find a way to win. It wasn’t easy.

Stanford had led by as many as 30 points with 13:35 to go in the second half. That’s when Cal began closing the gap and ended up outscoring the Cardinal 39-27 for the half. However, Stanford had led 43-25 after the first half.

Free throws make a difference

Perhaps the most telling statistic, though, is that Stanford made 11 of 16 of its free throws, or 68.8 percent, compared with Cal’s six of 12, or 50 percent. Without those additional five FTs by Stanford, the score would have been even more uncomfortably close – 65-64.

Despite aggressive Cal defense, leading to perhaps some hurried shots, senior Chiney Ogwumike led her team with 23 points and 12 rebounds for her 16th double-double of the season. She added two assists, two blocks and a steal in 39 minutes.

She had only 11 points in the first half, while freshman guard Karlie Samuelson had 12. Karlie electrified the crowd by hitting a 3-pointer in the last second of that half. She finished the game with 14 points, second only to Chiney, to go with three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

The only other player in double figures was junior forward Taylor Greenfield, who had 10 points along with one rebound and one assist.

Redshirt senior forward Mikaela Ruef and freshman forward Erica “Bird” McCall each had 8 points. Like Chiney, Mikaela had 12 rebounds. She also had two assists and a steal. Bird had four rebounds and a block.

Team makes five from beyond the arc

Karlie and Taylor each had two of Stanford’s five 3’s. Freshman guard Lili Thompson had the other one. Cal had a total of six 3’s.

Stanford committed 11 turnovers to Cal’s nine but had 19 assists (a season-high eight by Lili) to Cal’s five. Rebounds were even at 44 each. Stanford had the edge in blocks, 3-1, and steals, 5-3.

For the game, Stanford shot 42.2 percent, while Cal shot 36.6 percent.

Cal had 17 fouls to Stanford’s 14. One of Cal’s fouls came right about the time it began its second-half comeback. While they were going for a rebound and becoming tangled, Cal guard Brittany Boyd appeared to throw Bird to the floor, leading to a chorus of boos by the crowd. When the referees reviewed the play and stuck with their original call of a foul, rather than anything more serious, the booing continued for several minutes.

Bird wasn’t hurt, but two of her teammates had to go to the bench after mishaps during the first half. One was junior guard Amber Orrange, who apparently got a bloody nose in a collision. The other was Lili, who hurt her knee and limped off the court. Both returned to action after being attended to by trainer Marcella Shorty.

Despite the traditionally intense rivalry between Cal and Stanford, the crowd numbered a surprisingly low 4,228. It included a busload of Cal fans along with the Cal band, cheer squad and Oskie, the mascot.

Toni leads Cal-Stanford effort for equality

Many members of the Stanford band along with a number of fans wore black T-shirts reading “We A.R.E. Pride.” The initials stand for Athletes Reaching Equality, an initiative started by medically retired senior guard Toni Kokenis and Cal guard Mikayla Lyles.

Its purpose is to “promote safe and supportive communities for LGBT athletes as well as to raise awareness of LGBT issues in sports,” according to the Stanford Daily. It involves activities on both campuses.

Halftime entertainment was provided by Alliance Street Dance, a Stanford student group of four men and five women who choreograph and perform their own routines in a variety of styles from hip-hop to ballet.

This game marked the halfway point in the Pac-12 schedule and found Stanford atop the conference with its 9-0 record, 20-1 overall.

Battle of the Bay, Part 2, will get under way at 1 p.m. Feb. 2 when Stanford journeys to Cal. A trip to the Washington schools is on tap for the following weekend.

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