By: Joe Lami
STANFORD, Calif.–The Stanford Cardinal returned to Maples Pavilion, a regional host site for this year’s NCAA Tournament, on Sunday where they took on the Penn State Lady Lions in the regional semi-final. The Cardinal defeated the Lady Lions by the final score of 82-57.
The first half was neck and neck until about half way through. The Lady Lions went on a 7-0 run to get ahead of the Cardinal 23-19. The Cardinal were able to comeback with a 14-0 run of their own spanning a 5:12. The run would end when Ariel Edwards would hit a pair of free throws. Stanford would get five more points until the Lady Lions would be able to hit a field goal, as Edwards would nail a jumper with 2:47 remaining in the first half. Penn State was unable to hit a field goal for 6:48 which gave Stanford a big advantage, as their lead would be 38-27. The scoring drought would begin again until Edwards would be able to get a bucket and a foul with 13 seconds remaining in the half. Stanford went into the halftime break with a 44-30 lead.
After much control of the first half, the second half went fairly easy for the Cardinal, as then only surrendered 27 points to cruise to victory. The final minutes for the Cardinal allowed players that wouldn’t normally see minutes in the NCAA Tournament, as Briana Roberson, Jasmine Camp, Erica Payne and Erica McCall were able to jump in the game.
“Today was an ideal day for Stanford basketball” praised Chiney Ogwumike after the game.
Ogwumike led the way for the Cardinal once again, as she finished with 29 points. She also added 15 rebounds to get her 25th double double of the season, and ups her career total to 83. Amber Orrange was second in scoring for Stanford with 18 points. Lili Thompson and Mikaela Ruef both finished the game with 11 points. Ruef also added 13 rebounds to achieve the double double.
Edwards led the way for the Lady Lions, as she finished with 22 points. Dara Taylor and Talia East were the other Penn St. players to get into double figures, contributing 11 and ten respectively.
The major factor in the Stanford win was allowing Maggie Lucas to only score six points. Lucas, the Big Ten player of the year, was averaging 21.5 points per game coming into the contest. This was only the second time this season where Lucas was held under ten points. The last time occurred when the Lady Lions lost to Notre Dame at home on December 4. Thompson was assigned to defend against Lucas, and she was a major factor. “She was forced to take tough shots all night” claimed Penn State Head Coach, Coquese Washington. Thompson later added that the key to shutting Lucas down was to limit her touches.
The Cardinal will continue their run on Tuesday with hopes of advancing to the Final Four, as they will take on North Carolina, who defeated South Carolina 65-58 in the other regional semi-final.