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.

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.

Trojans Upset Cardinal on Ogwumike’s Record Setting Night

By Joe Lami

For the first time ever the Stanford Cardinal will not be going to the Pac-12 Tournament championship game, as the USC Trojans defeated the Cardinal 72-68 in the semi-finals on Saturday night.  Stanford the number one seed and the favorite to win the Pac-12 Championship, is now unsure of how their NCAA Tournament is going to look.  If the Cardinal came out of the Pac-12 Tournament unscathed, they would have received an almost sure bid to a number one seed in their host west region.

The first half ended with the score tied at 32.  Stanford dominated the paint in the first half, with 18 points.  However, the Trojans led the first with points off of turnovers, bench points and 2nd chance points.

Coming out of the half, the Trojans jumped on the Cardinal early, going on a 14-4 run in the first 5:30.  Stanford would be able to crawl back slowly, and would eventually take the lead back with 6:46 remaining.  The Cardinal would push the lead to three, at 60-57 with 5:06 to go and be able to hold it for a couple of minutes.  However, the Trojans would once again march back, much in part to Cassie Harberts’ ten straight points.  This would get the USC lead to as high as seven before the Cardinal would find another bucket with 61 seconds to go.

The Cardinal pressed in the final minute to get the deficit as low as two, but the Trojans would be good enough at the foul line to be able to ice the game away and advance to the Pac-12 Championship game, where they will face the Oregon State Beavers.

Chiney Ogwumike led the way for the Cardinal with 30 points and 21 rebounds.  The 30 points ties her with Stanford Alum, Candice Wiggins as the all-time Pac-12 scorer with 2,629.  Unfortunately for Ogwumike, she scored career point 2,629 with over seven minutes remaining in the game, and couldn’t find another to break the record in game where every point mattered.

Stanford had an awful day from the field, finishing the game at just 32%.  Lili Thompson finished with 13 points, going 4 of 11 shooting.  Amber Orrange was the only other double digit scorer for the Cardinal, as she finished the night with 11 points and 3 of 11 shooting.  Mikaela Ruef was held scoreless for the first time in recent memory, as the fifth year senior went 0 for 8 from the field, but she did bring down five rebounds.  Taylor Greenfield was the only Stanford player to come off of the bench and contribute points, as she finished the game with five.

The Trojans didn’t shoot that much better, as they finished the game shooting just 39%.  USC also saw three different players get into double digits.  Alexyz Vaioletama led the way with 19 points.  She also contributed 15 rebounds, with five of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.  Guard, Ariya Cook, finished the game with 15 points.  Game MVP, Cassie Harberts only had 13 points, but ten of them came at the most opportune time, as she scored ten straight with under three minutes to go to give the Trojan’s a lead good enough to win the game.

The win for the Trojans gets them that much closer into the NCAA tournament, as ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the ladies of USC on his first four teams out of the tournament.  However, with this win it might just be enough to break the bubble and earn a bid.  That is if they don’t receive the automatic bid on Sunday afternoon by winning the Pac-12 Tournament.  Oregon State, their opponent on Sunday is looked at as already in the NCAA Tournament according to Creme.

Number four-ranked Stanford has their record drop to 29-3, and now they are a little unsure on how they will be entering the NCAA Tournament.  Some questions arise, is Stanford still a number one seed?  Does Stanford still deserve to be in the west region, their host region?  Only time will tell what the selection committee decides, but for now we sit back and prepare for another great day of Championship basketball on Sunday.

Stanford Starts Pac-12 Tournament with Victory, Moves on to Semi-Finals

By Joe Lami

After a first round bye, the Stanford Cardinal started their weekend in Seattle with a win.  The top-seeded Cardinal beat the Buffaloes of Colorado by the final score of 69-54 on Friday afternoon to move on to the semi-finals in the Pac-12 tournament.

The Buffaloes earned their contest with the Cardinal by beating the UCLA Bruins by the score of 76-65 on Thursday. They came out to play on Friday, as they held the Cardinal to it’s worst scoring first half of the year at 21 points.  The Buffaloes went into halftime leading 23-21, however a strong second half performance for the Cardinal would earned them the victory.  The key difference for Stanford was starting the second half on a 16-2 run, which was good enough for them to hold the lead the rest of the game.

The starters for the Cardinal were extremely impressive, as four of them got into double digits in scoring.  The Pac-12 player of the year, Chiney Ogwumike, paved the way for the Cardinal putting up 19 points and rebounding 11.  This was after Ogwumike was held to only six points in the first half.  Bonnie Samuelson and Lili Thompson each added 15 points.  Mikaela Ruef had another amazing performance and has a double double to show for it, as she scored ten points, and led the team in rebounds, bringing down 16.  After Amber Orrange had one of her most impressive performance of the year this previous Sunday, Friday afternoon was a way different story.  The Junior Point Guard scored three points on four shot attempts.

The Buffaloes were led by Brittany Wilson, who notched 16 points, with 12 of them coming from beyond the three-point line.  Wilson also put up the most shot attempts of any Colorado player, as she went 5 of 20.  11 of the 20 shots came from three-point range.  Haley Smith was the only other Colorado scorer to get into double digits with ten.  Arielle Roberson led all players in rebounds with 17, she would end just two points shy of the double double.

With the win, the Cardinal are unsure of their next opponent, as they will find out in the upcoming hours. They will take on the winner of the contest between Southern California and Arizona State for a chance at the final on Sunday.

Stanford Women’s Hoops gets the Win to Start the Season

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By: Joe Lami

The Cardinal took to the road to start the 2013-2014 campaign, and they start it with a victory, beating the Boston College Eagles by the final score of 83-70.

The Cardinal were led by non other than their pre-season All American center Chiney Ogwumike scoring 30 points and picking up 14 rebounds.  Stanford also had some amazing help from Junior point guard Amber Orrange who scored 19, dished 10 assist and was just one rebound away from accumulating the triple-double.  Bonnie Samuelson came off the bench to score 15, with nine of those coming from beyond the three-point line.

Boston College was led by their senior forward, Kristen Doherty, who scored 16 points. Right behind her and coming off the bench putting up15 points was Shayra Brown.  Stanford dominated the boards, out rebounding the Eagles 44-26 with the offensive battle going in Stanford favor as well 17-11.  Though Stanford did lose the turnover battle by four, they were still able to squeak out the 13-point victory.

This win, for the Cardinal, brings coach Tara VanDerveer, to win number 895, just five away of the prestigious 900 mark.  She would become just the fifth coach in women basketball to do so as well, joining the ranks of legendary coaches Pat Summit and Jody Conradt.

Up next for the Cardinal is what very well could be their toughest challenge of the entire season, as they travel to Storrs, Connecticut , to go up against the number one team in the country, UConn.  Stanford will look for its’ revenge after last season’s 61-35 embarrassing loss against the Huskies breaking its 82 home game winning streak.  The game is on Monday, November 11, and can be found on ESPN 2 as a national broadcast.  Tip-off is set for 4pm.