March 23, 2015

Milestones mark start of March Madness

Defeating Cal State Northridge in the first round of the NCAA tournament March 21, the Stanford women’s basketball team achieved two major milestones.

First, the 73-60 victory marked the 800th at Stanford for head coach Tara VanDerveer. Thus she became only the 10th Division 1 men’s or women’s coach to amass that many wins at one school. Her overall Stanford record is 800-165. Her career record stands at 952-216. 

Second, the tournament-advancing win was the 500th for the program in Maples Pavilion against 87 losses. On top of that, the team improved to 31-4 in NCAA games at home.

Amber, Lili, Brittany, Bonnie, Bird start 

As she had for the team’s successful run at the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle, Tara gave senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guard Lili Thompson, freshman guard Brittany McPhee, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall  the starting nods.

Only 12 players were available. Sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson has been out for several games and will be out the rest of the season because of a broken finger. Appropriately, she sported a red cast on her right hand, minus the sling she had used in Seattle. Also out of action for undisclosed reasons were sophomore forward Kailee Johnson and redshirt junior guard Alex Green.

Stanford jumped out to an 8-0 lead, not allowing CSUN to score until just after four minutes into the game. The lead ballooned to 20-7 at the 11:28 mark, but CSUN made a run that put it ahead 29-28 at the half.

During halftime, the crowd of 2,830 applauded Stanford’s national champion women’s water polo team. They also had a chance to admire the addition of 2015 to the Pac-12 section portion of the WBB championship banner in the southeast corner. 

Lili, Taylor spur second-half recovery

It seemed that the Cardinal players stayed in the locker room a bit longer than usual. Once the second half got under way, though, the tide began to turn, thanks in part to Lili and to senior forward Taylor Greenfield. 

Lili had spent part of the first half on the bench with two fouls, but she returned to score 7 quick points, including a 3. She finished second in scoring with 17 points and four each in rebounds and assists in 30 minutes.

Continuing the fine play that won her the MVP trophy in Seattle and the nickname “Tournament Taylor” from her teammates, Taylor scored 13 of her team-leading 19 points in the second half to go with four rebounds and one assist in 32 minutes. Playing virtually the entire game, Bonnie added 14 points from three first-half 3’s and five free throws along with five rebounds and one block.

Also in double figures, Bird had 10 points plus three rebounds and three blocks in 17 minutes.

Freshman forward Kaylee Johnson led the team with 10 rebounds while contributing four points, two steals and one block in 23 minutes.

Playing 38 minutes, Amber had 6 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal. She figured in a game highlight in the second half when she scrambled for a loose ball on the floor and flipped it to Lili, who sped to the basket for an easy layup.

Memories of Lindy’s hustle play

That play brought back memories of the time when Lindy La Rocque, ’12, then a freshman, dove for a loose ball against Cal and flipped it to Jillian Harmon, ’09, who also scored.

The memory may have been especially sharp for Lindy herself. She was in the stands watching with players from the University of Oklahoma, Stanford’s next opponent by virtue of its 111-84 victory over Quinnipiac in the earlier game.

Lindy is completing the second year of an internship with the Sooner team while earning her master’s in intercollegiate athletic administration. Sitting elsewhere in the stands were her parents, Alan and Beverly, visiting from Las Vegas. They said Lindy hopes to become a coach.

Free throws contribute to win

Accounting for part of Stanford’s 13-point margin of victory were 19 of 25 free throws, compared with four of five by CSUN. Stanford had only nine fouls, while CSUN had 19. Many of those fouls came intentionally in the final two minutes, even in the final few seconds when CSUN had no chance of winning.

Before Oklahoma’s blowout win over the Quinnipiac Bobcats from Connecticut, Lindy walked past the scorers’ table to greet Tara’s mother, Rita, and sister Heidi, who sat behind the other bench.

As the game started, Tara and associate head coach Amy Tucker sat in the south stands several rows below the Cardinal players. Assistant coaches Tempie Brown and Kate Paye sat at the nearby sideline table. All were scouting their potential opponent.

Most of the players left well before halftime, but Amber, Taylor, freshman guard Taylor Rooks, Bird and senior forward Erica Payne stayed behind. Soon Taylor G. was the only one left, sitting by herself until leaving with 1:45 to go.

Early in the second half, three of the coaches left, leaving Kate there to scout.

With its strong post play and ability to score from beyond the arc, Oklahoma could be a formidable opponent. That game will begin at 3:30 p.m. March 23.

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