One Down, Five to Go, Stanford Defeats South Dakota in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal started what they are hoping to be a long NCAA Tournament run on Saturday afternoon with a win.  They defeated the South Dakota Coyotes by the final score of 81-62.  The Cardinal were given a number two seed after they were defeated by USC in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 tournament.  Their opponent, South Dakota, earned the 15-seed after they won the Summit Conference Tournament.  The Coyotes also had a record of 19-14 coming into the contest.

South Dakota held the game close for the first seven minutes of the game, and actually held a two point lead at the 17:56 mark, but at the 13-minute the Cardinal gained the lead and they kept it for the rest of the game.  The Cardinal led the game 42-27 going into the halftime break.  They then outscored the Coyotes 39-35 in the second half to earn the 81-62 victory.

It was a huge day for Senior star Chiney Ogwumike, as she became the all-time Pac-12 leading scorer in the contest.  She only need one-point to gain the feat, as she finished the last contest tied with Candice Wiggins.  Ogwumike finished the game with 22 points, and eight rebounds in the 35 minutes played.  She led all scorers in the effort.

Bonnie Samuelson came off of the bench to tie her career high, as the Junior Guard sunk six of ten shots from beyond the arc to net 18 points.  Lili Thompson scored 11 points and brought down six rebounds in her first NCAA Tournament contest.  She also went 50% from three-point land, as she went three of six from beyond the arc.  Amber Orrange was the other Stanford player to get into double digits in scoring, as she finished the game with ten points.

South Dakota had a bright spot in the loss, as Nicole Seekamp finished the game with 22 points, shooting 9 of 13 from the field.  She also finished the game with five rebounds.

Stanford only has one more team in front of them before they can return to their home court, Maples Pavilion, as part of Regionals.  The tenth seed Florida State Seminoles will be the Cardinal’s next opponent, as they defeated Iowa State on their home floor earlier Saturday 55-44.  The Round of 32 contest is set for Monday at 3:30 PST.

Blackhawks enjoy home-away-from-home atmosphere in the desert

NHL WEST COMMENTARY

By DANIEL DULLUM

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed their largest crowd of the season Saturday at Jobing.com Arena, with an announced standing-room sellout attendance of 17,321 to watch the Desert Dogs do battle with Chicago.

While good news for the franchise’s bottom line, the bad news was that at least 10,000 of those fans were donning Blackhawks gear, yelling, “Go Hawks, Go.” This scenario left the Coyotes with the odd and frustrating task of trying to take the crowd out of its own building.

“It’s crazy. It seems like it’s always like that when we’re here,” Chicago left wing Brandon Bollis said following the Hawks’ 5-2 win. “I honestly think we had more fans here than (the Coyotes) did.”

To compound matters for the Coyotes, early turnovers and a team penalty for too many men on the ice gave Chicago a 5-on-3 power play less than two minutes into the game. Patrick Kane cashed in on the two-man advantage for the first Blackhawks goal, and by the midway point of the opening period, Chicago had a 12-3 advantage in shots and a 3-0 lead.

Phoenix came back with a pair of goals in the second period, but the damage was done. Bollis’ goal at 10:49 of the third period provided the visitors with some breathing room. An empty-net tally by Marian Hossa in the final minute finished the job for the NHL’s best team (44 points, 20-4-4), as they finished a seven-game road trip 6-1-0.

“It’s frustrating. You feel that, when (Chicago) is at the end of a long road trip, this is a game you can win,” Coyotes Coach Dave Tippett said. “When you’re playing the top team in the league, you can’t come out like we did in the first period.

“This is a good lesson for our team,” Tippett added. “We just have to play better. It’s an attitude.”

Yes, there was some grumbling about Phoenix being a transient sports market and it usually comes up in games like this, or against Detroit, Minnesota, Vancouver and other teams whose fans travel well. The NFL Cardinals have had the same problem for years. But as long as the tickets are sold, there are no complaints from the Bidwell family.

As for the Coyotes, until they start winning more consistently, nights like this will be the norm. But 17,321 is a terrific night at the box office, especially when facing stiff competition from Arizona State vs. University of Arizona football.