By: Joe Lami
The Stanford Cardinal (23-2,12-1) returned to Maples Pavilion on Friday night, just five days after their disappointing loss in Seattle, to Washington on Sunday. The Cardinal made up for it with a dominating performance over the Arizona State Sun Devils (20-5,9-4) with a 61-34 victory.
The Cardinal held the Sun Devils to one of the lowest scoring totals in Pac-12 history, with Arizona escaping that mark by one point. The Cardinal’s impressive defense started early, as they held Arizona State to without a field goal until eight minutes into the first half. This gave Stanford 14-3 lead, following a field goal and a free throw. “They had great defensive energy early, we never got into the flow of the game” said ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
The dominance continued as Stanford went into halftime leading the Sun Devils 32-12. This is the 2nd time in Pac-12 history that Stanford has held an opponent to the least amount of points scored in a first half. Arizona State shot 17% from the field in the first half, and it didn’t get much better from the charity strike, as they went two of seven from the line.
The second half wasn’t much better for the Sun Devils, as they continued to struggle shooting 30% from the field for a total game percentage of 24%. The Sun Devils also finished the game shooting 8% from beyond the arc, as they only hit one shot in the 12 shots attempted. It was an overall great defensive performance for the Cardinal, especially coming off of only their second loss of the season. “We haven’t been this excited to play defense in a long time, and I’m excited that we are again” said star Chiney Ogwumike.
The Stanford defense kept the Sun Devil players from getting into double digits, as both Promise Amukamara and Sophie Brunner led Arizona State in scoring with nine points. The leading scorer for the Sun Devils in the first meeting between these two top 15 opponents, Quinn Dornstauder, was held to only six points.
The offense was no slouch either for the Cardinal, as they had an impressive game on that side of the ball as well. Stanford finished the game shooting 54% from the field. Ogwumike led all scorers with 20 points in only 27 minutes of playing time, as she sat on the bench for the final 13 minutes of the game. The player of the year candidate also finished with 13 rebounds, all of which came in the first half. Amber Orrange had another amazing performance, as she finished the game with 14 points, five steals, three rebounds and three assists. “Amber took it upon herself to be the engine of the train” praised head coach, Tara VanDerveer, on Orrange’s performance.
The minutes were passed around equally for one of the first times this season, as 14 different players got into the game. Out of those 14 players that saw time, ten of them got onto the scoring sheet.
With Friday’s game being one of the best performances of the season, there was still some criticism that came out of it. One of which was the fact that Stanford had 17 turnovers. “We have to play better, we have to take care of the ball better” commented VanDerveer. Another problem that has been reoccurring all season is that Stanford has been giving up way too many offensive rebounds. That trend would continue on Friday, as Arizona State had 12 offensive boards. Of the 12 offensive rebounds, Arizona State was able to have eight second-chance points off of them.
Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, Arizona State more so than Stanford. The Sun Devils shots one of 12 from three. Stanford finished scoreless, but only had four attempts. The three-pointer was not in the game plan mentioned VanDerveer after the game.
Stanford bounced back great, as they up their record to 23-2, 12-1. Thus almost clinching the Pac-12 regular season title. As long as they don’t fall off of the wagon, they will get the title. Stanford looks to make it once step closer towards the regular season title, as they host the Wildcats of Arizona.