By: Joe Lami
Saturday marked the second time that two top ten teams matched up against each other this week, as number one Connecticut defeated number two Duke earlier in the week. On Saturday it would be number six Stanford defeating number three Tennessee 76-70.
“It was a great environment” losing coach, Holly Warlick stated, as 6,044 were on to see two great rivals match-up once again.
Tennessee started the game on a 4-0 run with buckets from Isabelle Harrison and Bashaaara Graves. Stanford would answer back with a run of their own, scoring 13 straight, eight of which came from Chiney Ogwumike. The other five points from freshman, Lili Thompson.
“We dug ourselves a big hole early, and it was tough to get out of” said a Warlick after the game.
Stanford would hold the lead for the rest of the game, with their biggest lead getting to 12 points multiple times. The game would tighten up towards the end as Tennessee made a really strong push, cutting the lead to two with only a minute to go. However, Junior Guard, Amber Orrange would come up huge for the Cardinal getting a lay-up and a foul shot to extend the lead to five and really put the game away.
Stanford was led by Ogwumike who registered 32 points for the second straight contest, this time however she did it while playing all 40 minutes. Ogwumike also had 20 rebounds, with 11 of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.
“She doesn’t take a possession off, we had trouble with her all night” said Warlick on the play of Ogwumike.
Stanford had a strong performance as well from Freshman Guard, Thompson, who scored 14 points, while bringing down two rebounds in the 35 minutes that she played.
Stanford head coach, Tara VanDerveer had nothing but praise for Thompson’s play “Lili isn’t a freshman for us, and this isn’t the type of game for freshman, you can’t make freshman mistakes.”
Mikaela Ruef had eight points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal. Coming off of the bench huge for Stanford was Taylor Greenfield scoring 11 points, with nine of them coming from beyond the arc. The junior also brought down a single rebound.
“Taylor’s threes were huge for us today, it seemed like they were always falling at the right time” VanDerveer commented on Greenfield ‘s play.
On the other side of the ball, Tennessee was led by Ariel Massengale with 17 points. Meighan Simmons was right behind her with 15 points, and Graves scored 14. Harrison was on the only Lady Vol to record a double-double as she scored ten points, and added 13 rebounds.
The biggest stat of the night would have to be that of the rebound, as Stanford out-rebounded Tennessee 43-40. VanDerveer praised the teams rebounding performance as she said to the team before the game, “If you win the battle on the boards, you will win this game.” Though Stanford did give up 21 offensive rebounds to the Lady Vols that led to 24 second chance points, the head coach was still thrilled about the performance. She also said that rebounding and boxing out needs to be constantly worked on throughout the season, as Cal will be a very similar team to Tennessee.
With the win, Stanford has beaten the Lady Volunteers in three consecutive contests for the first time in series history. Stanford also defends Maples Pavilion, as Tennessee has been unsuccessful there since the 2005-06 season.
Tennessee is handed their first loss of the season and moves to 10-1. They will go on a holiday break and return to the floor on December 29th for the last time of 2013, as they host Lipscomb. After the New Year, they will then start SEC conference play with their first game against LSU.
Stanford keeps their winning streak alive and moves it up to nine games, and ups their record to 10-1. The Cardinal will also go on holiday break and return to action December 28th against the Fresno St. Bulldogs in Fresno. After the New Year, Stanford will also start their conference play with their next home game against the Oregon Ducks on January 3rd.