Image: Deirdre Hamill/The Arizona Republic
Once again, the sisters Ogwumike lead the way and saved the day. And once again a Pac-12 team holds the Stanford’s Women’s Basketball Team close well into the second half and then the sisters get untracked. This time Stanford’s victim was Arizona State, who the Cardinal will only see once this year, thanks to the new Pac-12 alignment. And C and R area betting once was enough for the Cardinal.
Coming into the game, Arizona State lead the Pac-12 in defense, meaning holding teams to around 52 points per game. Stanford came into the game leading the Pac-12 in offense. What was it, 80 some points per game? Something had to give.
Due to the magic of television, Bay Area fans actually got to see this game, so thanks Comcast Sports Net or whatever channel that broadcasted the game. And how is that Pac-12 channel coming along? No rush or anything.
Anyway, at first we weren’t so happy to see the game. In the first few minutes, Arizona State slowed the tempo of the game down and pressured the guards. It worked. Stanford had 5 turnovers in 7 minutes. The announcers said Stanford looked out of sync and flat-footed (being flatfooted all the time myself, I take umbrage to that comment, but I digress) Arizona State’s Kali Bennett was a monster with blocks, having 6 for the game, at least 3 in the first 5 minutes. ASU’s defense helped their own cause by forcing Stanford into 2-12 shooting in the first 8 minutes.
It also was tough in that stretch that the refs were not calling any contact fouls, and ASU was definitely the aggressor. At one point, Kali Bennett leg whipped Nneka and knocked her to the ground as she lost the ball out of bounds. No call. (Don’t worry, Stanford got their revenge later on in the second).
Also, Stanford wasn’t boxing out and ASU was definitely taking advantage of that, building an 8-point lead with 9 minutes left in the first, making it 15-7 before the Cardinal woke up and fought back. Taylor Greenfield hit two quick threes and like that (snapping fingers sound) it was 14-15, ASU clinging to that one point lead.
When the dust cleared and it was half time, the score was 28-28 and C and R were not looking forward to the fact the game might go into overtime. Again. As the teams were going into the locker room to get feedback/yelled at, Tara told the announcer that Stanford had to be more aggressive, and she was actually excited that they had played so poorly and were just tied. The first part of the sentence threw us, but then we got the Hall of Fame coach’s drift. She also added prognostication to her long list of talents by predicting Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike (the aforementioned sisters) WILL have a great second half. And boy was she right.
The half opened and each team went on their own little tears. Then the score was tied again for the fifth time at 40-40 at the 12:15 mark and about 15 seconds later, a little something happened. We saw the replays, and we weren’t sure how, but Chiney somehow hit Kali Bennett in the face when she corralled a rebound and put it back. Kali went to the bench with a bloody nose, and that’s when Stanford decided to make their move. Actually, Kali came back to the game, but she was never the same and the sisters Ogwumike took over, stretching the lad to 3, 5, 7, 9, then Stanford hit 12 on Taylor Greenfield’s third and finally three of the night. She would finish with 10 and Toni Kokenis with 7 to augment the sister-scoring machine.
ASU did not score a basket until nearly 5 and a half minutes later, when Deja Mann made 2 free throws. Then a short while later with a 15-point lead, Lindy LaRocque threw an alley oop pass to Nneka, who skied high and put it in the basket without touching the ground. Unfortunately Kali Bennett, she of the cotton stuffed up her nose, tried to stop it and not only got called for the foul on Nneka, she had Nneka land on her as she pulled her down and she hurt her back, subbing out for good at the 5:22 mark. Nneka made the free throw to put her team up by 15.
Nneka would finish with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Sister Chiney would have 20 points and an identical 16 rebounds. ASU would only score 9 points from the 12 minute mark to the end, with the final score 62-49, Stanford. Guess good offense beats good defense every time. Well, Stanford also plays some really good defense as well, as the rest of the Pac-12 has found out.
We just found out Nneka had the flu the week before the CAL game and didn’t even practice Thursday and Friday leading up to the game. She was held to “only”12 points, missing a bunch of shots. We uncharacteristically credited Cal and their defense. Now we find out superman was just a little sick, hee hee!
Another Arizona game Saturday, not televised.