Cal did its best to try and intimidate the “Nice Girls from Stanford.” The Stanford women’s Basketball team, on the other hand, would have none of it. They showed up in the enemy territory of Haas Pavilion in their black uniforms and gave as good as they got.
Well, Cal did intimidate a little in the first few minutes. They did have a loud crowd and scored the first four points. All four came courtesy of Cal’s Brittany Boyd. The media (okay, C and R and Cal Golden Blogs) played up the freshmen match up of guards, Cal’s Boyd and Stanford’s Amber Orrrrange. They did indeed match up across from each other and Boyd was fired up. She hit two free throws to open the game and then got a steal and just took it down Stanford’s throat for a lay up. Amber took her shots, too, and they were good looks, but nothing fell. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Cardinal.
To make mattes longer, er harder, Cal opens with a full court press, and Stanford can get easily rattled. Stanford would turn it over seven times in the first half alone.
But then Stanford gave Cal notice that they had a different weapon then their inside game, namely the outside game. Jos Tinkle hit a three, all 6’3 of her. Then they went inside to all-everything Nneka Ogwumike, who got Cal’s centers into foul trouble. A couple of free throws later and Stanford is up 8-6 with 14 minutes to play. Then Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer unleashed the big guns, and subs in freshmen three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson. She quickly hits a three. Toni Kokenis follows shortly after, then Bonnie again and in the space of 3 minutes Stanford is up 24-13. Stanford already had more made threes at this point (3 of them) then made all game the first time these two teams played.
A word about Bonnie’s threes. They ain’t pretty. They have no arch and she releases more from the shoulder with a little hop than a pure straight-up jump and shot from the shoulder. C and R are always worried it would be easy to block, but here’s the thing: she releases so darn quickly no one can block her. And Cal did keep leaving her open, much to Cal head Coach Lindsey Gottleib’s dismay.
Then Cal couldn’t stop Toni. At one point her defender played off of her and begged her to shoot the three. She did and she made it. She also had some nice drives to the basket and some nice pull-ups. She kept Cal off balance, and had 11 points at the half.
The half time score was 43-24. Granted, Cal’s post players went to the bench and let Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike get some baskets. However, Cal did not play team ball. When they got a defensive rebound, which they got a lot of, hats off to them for keeping Chiney Ogwumike off the O boards, Cal would put their head down and go coast to coast. Trouble is 2 or 3 black uniforms were back there waiting, forcing bad shoots instead of an easy lay up. Cal really dug themselves a big hole. Cal would shoot 9-32 in the first half. And Brittany Boyd, who scored the first four points for Cal, held scoreless the rest of the half.
Okay, we have heard of the three-point play (foul, made basket, made free throw) and a four-point play (fouled on a three point shot, made the three, made the one foul shot), but a five-point play? In the first, Toni made a two point shot and Cal got called for throwing Nneka around, so Stanford got the basket and the ball out of bounds under their basket. Nneka fought off her man and caught the inbound pass at the block and put it back for two more points, and was fouled. She made the free throw. Five total points.
Also in the first, Nneka blocked a Brittany Boyd lay up so hard the ball flew off the court and down the exit aisle, heading for the door, along with Cal’s hopes of winning this game. No soup for you! Now that’s intimidation! The announcers said the first time these two teams played at Maples, Nneka had the flu and had been in bed for four days before the game, no practice. She played and only scored 12 points and didn’t look like “Nneka.” Tonight, they concluded, she looked like Nneka.
Speaking of blocks, Stanford had 10 total. Jos Tinkle had five, two coming on one play, although how did the Cal player get the ball so many times.
Being down by 19 is hard to come back from, and Cal did a better job in the second half with their centers taking it to the Ogwumikes on offense and getting them in foul trouble. But it was too little, too late. Brittany Boyd did not score in the second half. Cal also stuck with the full court press, and this time Stanford solved it with long passes down court. Stanford then had three-on-one type numbers and easy lay ups. Stanford would limit their turnovers this half to five. The final score would be 86-61.
Nneka would finish the game with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assist and 2 blocks. For once, she is not Stanford’s high scorer, and no, the high scorer was not also named Ogwumike, which is often the case. High scorer was guard Toni Kokenis, with 23. As we mentioned, she had a wide variety of moves to go to, including three from behind the line. (Stanford would make 8-14 of their threes for the night. Cal by contrast would make 1 on 9 attempts.). Toni might have scored more, but had to leave the game with a few minutes left due to collision with a Cal player’s shoulder and subsequent bloody nose. Chiney would square out at 12 points and 12 rebounds, for her 14th double-double of the season. Jos Tinkle rounded out the quartet of Stanford players in double figures with 16 points. And Bonnie? She made 3 threes for 9 total points.
The announcers said Stanford looked like a #2 team, and that they came out and owned this game, they took control and they never let it out of their grasp. Pretty intimidating.