Cardinal Season Comes to an End, Losses to Connecticut in National Semi-Finals

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal played their final game of the 2013-2014 season on Sunday night after they were defeated by Connecticut 75-56 in Nashville.  The Cardinal were seeking their third National Championship in school history and their first one since 1992, however they fell short in their sixth trip to the final four in the past seven years.  Sunday also marks the third time in four years that the Cardinal have fallen in the National Semi-Final.

The Cardinal controlled much of the first half.  The Huskies got on the board first with buckets from Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson to go up 4-0.  Chiney Ogwumike got on the board first for the Cardinal with a jumper of her own.  Connecticut would get the lead back up to four, until Stanford went on a 7-0 run to give them their first lead of the evening with 16:09 remaining in the half.  The Cardinal held the lead for 12 minutes until Stephanie Dolson tied it up at 22 with four minutes remaining.  The 12 minutes marked the longest stretch of time this season that Connecticut had trailed.  Stanford pushed their largest lead to six, marking the second highest lead a team had on Connecticut all season.  The Huskies continued their run, extending it to 14-0 before Stanford was able to answer with a bucket of their own.  UConn went into the half with a 28-24 lead.

Stanford fell apart in the second half, as Connecticut started the second half with a 5:46 16-3 run.  The three points came from a rare three-pointer from Ogwumike.  The run would be give enough of a lead for UConn to ride out the win.  The Cardinal wouldn’t be able to fight their way back.

Amber Orrange led the way for the Cardinal with 16 points, she also added five assists in the losing effort.  Ogwumike wrapped up her Stanford career with her 25th double double of the season, as the expected 1st overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft finished the game with 15 points and ten rebounds.  Lili Thompson wrapped up the double figure Cardinal scorers with 12 points, eight of which came in the first half.

The Huskies saw all five of their starters get into double figures.  Player of the Year nominee, Brianna Stewart led the way with 18 points.  Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis contributed 15 points, all of which came in the second half.  Hartley shot four of 12 from the field to finish with 14 points.  Both Jefferson and Dolson finished the game with ten points each to cap off the double digits scorers.  Kiah Stokes also came off of the bench to add nine points in 22 minutes played, as the Huskies used only six players in 39-minutes of the game.  In the last minute, substitutes Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Briana Pulido and Brianna Banks replaced the starting five.

Connecticut remains undefeated at 39-0 and advance to their school’s ninth National Championship.  Next up for the Huskies is another undefeated team in Notre Dame (37-0), who beat Maryland 81-67 in the other National Semi-Final game.  Tuesday will mark the first time ever, where two undefeated teams will battle it out for the National Title.  Connecticut also joins their men’s team in the National Championship, as the men’s team will be going up against Kentucky for the men’s title.  Both Connecticut team’s won the title in 2004, and have a chance to do it again just ten years later.  They remain the only school to accomplish the feat.

Stanford finishes their season with a record of 30-4 and some uncertainty in next season, as it will be the first one since 2008 where an Ogwumike will not be on the team.

 

Cardinal Keep Dancing, Advance to Regional Final with Win Over Penn State

Photo Credit: gostanford.com
Photo Credit: gostanford.com

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.

Sweet Sixteen Bound Cardinal Punches Ticket to Regionals With Win Over Florida State

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal will be returning to Maples Pavilion next weekend as they will be continue on to the Sweet Sixteen, after a victory over the Florida State Seminoles on Monday afternoon.  The second-seeded Cardinal defeated the tenth-seeded Seminoles 63-44 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Seminoles grabbed an early seven-point lead, as they went on a 7-0 run to start the game in the first 1:52.  It wasn’t until the 18:08 mark where Amber Orrange was able to get things started for Stanford with a field goal.  The largest lead for Florida State was stretched to eight points at the 12:31 mark, when the Seminoles had the 14-6 lead.  However, this is when the Cardinal were able to turn the game around, as Stanford went on a 26-2 run, including a 13-minute scoring drought for Florida State to end the half.  Stanford went into halftime with a 32-16 lead.

Stanford would also control the second half as well, outscoring the Seminoles by three points to complete the victory.

All-time Pac-12 leading scorer, Chiney Ogwumike, led things for the Cardinal as she finished the game 8 of 11 from the field for 21 points.  She ended the game just one rebound shy of the double double.  Lili Thompson had another outstanding performance, as she contributed 14 points in the win, including a perfect 4 for 4 from the charity strike.  Bonnie Samuelson completed the list of players that got into double figures, as she came off the bench to score 11, with nine points coming from beyond the arc.

Florida State was able to achieve something that few teams have been able to do against Stanford this season, and that is to out-rebound the Cardinal.  The Seminoles won the rebound battle  35-32 with 12 of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.  Natasha Howard, Brittany Brown and Kai James all finished the game with seven rebounds for FSU.  Howard was also the Noles leading scorer, as she finished the game with nine points.

The Cardinal will be returning to the Sweet Sixteen for the seventh time in a row, and now they will be coming back to their home floor for possibly the next two games.  Up next for the Cardinal will be the winner of Penn State and Florida, before what is expected to be an Elite Eight matchup with the number one seed in the region, South Carolina.

Ogwumike Shines in Final Game, Cardinal Beat Cougars to Finish Undefeated at Home

By: Joe Lami

Chiney Ogwumike enjoyed her final regular season game at Maples Pavilion.  As she led her team to victory over the Washington State Cougars by the final score of 84-64.  Ogwumike finished her Cardinal career with a new career high 37 points, 21 of them came in the first half.  Ogwumike also added 13 rebounds to achieve her 22nd double-double of the season.  She also achieved her 30th double figure scoring game of the year and later achieved her 13th 30-point game of the season.  She stated after the game “I really don’t care about points and statistics, all I care is that I do enough for us to win, even if I only score two points.”   She later added on her feelings of Saturday’s game “It just felt like another game.  I just care that we won, and that we are playing better basketball going into the post season.  We are growing as a team and that’s what matters.”

The Cardinal started the first half strong, getting the first five points of the game and forcing Washington State to call an early timeout.  Stanford led the entire first half, but did have struggles shooting from beyond the arc.  Stanford went 3 for 13 from three-point range in the first half with Bonnie Samuelson knocking two of them down.  Brianna Roberson drained the other.

Roberson, a freshman, had her most impressive half of her young Cardinal career.  She finished the first half with eight points, a new career high.  Roberson also added a rebound and an assist in the seven minutes that she played.  She finished the game with eight points, as she didn’t see much playing time in the second half.

The Cardinal shot the lights out from the free throw line, as they finished the first half going 14 of 15, for a 93%.

Stanford came out of the second half strong, as they went on a 10-0 run to start things up in the first 4:47.  The Cardinal defense came to play in the second half only allowing 23 points, forcing the Cougars to shoot a dreaded 28%.

Even though the Cardinal held Washington State to 64 points, three different Cougars got into double figures.  They were led by Lia Galdeira, who finished with 16 points.  Both Tia Presley and Sage Romberg finished the game with ten points each.

Amber Orrange went under the radar once again, but had one of her best performances of the year.  The Junior Point Guard finished just two points shy of her career high, scoring 20 points.  She also finished the game with eight rebounds.  “This was one of Amber’s best nights she’s ever had for us” stated head coach, Tara VanDerveer.  VanDerveer also pulled Orrange aside and congratulated her on a great performance.  The key to Orrange’s night “I was being a lot more aggressive.”

The Cardinal finish the year undefeated at home going into the Pac-12 tournament next week.  They will be ranked the first seed and will get a first round bye, and will play their first game on Friday, March 7.