Image: Ben Margot/AP
Finally, a well-hyped game that lived up to its promise!
C and R are, of course, talking about the Stanford-Cal women’s basketball game.
It featured freshmen vs. freshmen, a career high scoring and rebounding night for one player, tough rebounding, one team clawing back to force overtime and one Hall of Fame coach and one who executed a great game plan and put her team in position to win.
Of course, it’s easier to enjoy the game after the fact when your team wins, as Stanford did, beating Cal 74-71 in OT. Let’s get to the highlights (or low lights, in some cases).
Freshman vs. Freshman:
This game featured two starting freshman guards, one for each team.
For Stanford, Amber Orrange and for Cal Brittany Boyd. Brittany Boyd was talked about the most in the press, and they kept emphasizing she is not a scorer but a playmaker, she gets others involved and leads the way with assists. Today she channeled another great Cal guard, Alexis Grey-Lawson, who was a point guard who drove to the basket and scored, sometimes to the detriment of a pass. Today Boyd was that scorer.
She drove the lane and went inside and scored 14 first half points. The two freshmen were guarding each other for the first few minutes but then Orrange fouled and went to the bench. She came back in and fouled again and went to the bench again, where she stayed for the rest of the first half. She came in briefly in the second half, disappeared and then came in to a tight game with a minute and a half left where she got a block but made a crucial turnover, then got yanked and did not return for the rest of the game.
Orrange’s stat line: 10 minutes, no points, one assist, one block. C and R wonder had she stayed in longer, she could get into a rhythm. In the second half, Brittany Boyd drove the lane but pulled up and made some impressive shots. She would finish with 19 points. She was full of confidence and shot the ball almost every time she touched it, and kept Cal in the game.
Career high scoring night and rebounding night for one player:
First, let’s talk about who it was not. It was not Stanford’s all-everything Nneka Ogwumike. She had what you might call an off night, and we will get to why she had such an off night in a moment.
She “only” scored 12 points for the game, 8 in the first half. More importantly, she shot 6-18, read, she missed a lot of shots she normally makes. And she “only” got 9 rebounds (we say “only” because that would be a great night for a sixth man, but all year Stanford has lived by Nneka’s ability to rebound and score in the 20’s, and not many have stepped up to help her). Would someone help her tonight? Yes they would – enter her sister, Chiney. Or as C and R like to say, Chin-nay saves the day.
Chiney scored a career high 27 points, 13 in the first half, and most importantly, was the only Stanford player to score a basket in the five minute overtime period. She also was a beast on the boards, grabbing a whopping 18 of them. Which leads us to…
Cal came into the game second in the nation in rebounding and first in the conference during conference play, according to Nate at Swish Appeal, which surprised the heck out of C and R. Because every Stanford game we’ve seen, including conference play, Stanford out rebounded everyone, especially the sisters Ogwumike (Ogwumikii, nicknamed by Cal Golden Blogs). Something had to give.
Cal did an outstanding job boxing out and establishing position under the basket on both ends and keyed on keeping Nneka off the boards. When she did grab a rebound on offense, two players swarmed her and stripped her of the ball numerous times, taking away her ability to score. But Cal did such a great job keying on her, they left Chiney open to gobble up boards and put them back for points, hence the 27 points and 18 boards. The rebounding totals for the game were 47 for Cal and 51 for Stanford. From the stands, we thought Cal had the rebounding edge.
One team clawing back to force overtime:
That team was Cal, if you haven’t figured that out. The game was back and forth, and around the 12-minute mark in the second half, Stanford did their usual “take over” at Maples. Toni Kokenis hits a three pointer, the crowd of 6,000 goes crazy, steal and quick pass to Chiney for a lay up, crowd on their feet, time out by Cal Coach Lindsey Gottlieb, now fans giving energy and love communicating, oh yeah, we go this! But red Stanford hats off to Cal, they didn’t back down. Brittany kept driving and now she got help from Layshia Clarendon, who would drive in and pull up for a jumper near the foul line. In fact, that seemed to be the only play Cal could make, but it worked every time. And our guards can’t seem to jump to contest that shot, so they both scored that way. Clarendon scored 17, including a three-pointer with 36 seconds left to evaporate Stanford’s 11-point lead down to 2, 69-67. She also hit 2 free throws to send the game into overtime at 69.
But it was only her and Brittany in double figures; they needed one more scorer. Ditto for Stanford, the Ogwumikes were doing their part, and Toni Kokenis used her quickness to drive in and hit pull-up Js of her own and she scored 18. Again, 3 players scoring 57 of 74 points is troublesome. We need more balance. Quick side note, Stanford’s Hall of Fame Coach Tara VanDerveer inserted freshmen three-point specialist Bonnie Samuelson at the five-minute mark in the second half and she hit two three-pointers in a span of 30 seconds to put Stanford up by 9 with 3:14 left. Unfortunately, it would be the last basket of the half for Stanford, letting Cal come back to force overtime, where Chiney’s basket and a free throw by her and one by Toni would hold up to just a 2-point basket for Cal. ‘Nother side note, why did Claredon get off two three-point shots in 9 seconds that would have forced a second over time? Someone guard her, please.
Cal’s rookie coach impresses:
Her game plan was to limit all-star Nneka Ogwumike and dare Stanford to beat them with other players. It almost worked. It wasn’t so much that Nneka had a bad game; it was that three blue shirts surrounded her at all times. They also stripped her off the ball if she grabbed a rebound, as we mentioned, and they did not let her get untracked near the basket on offense. Thank goodness for Chiney doing the heavy scoring and Toni being our third scorer. Third side note, Nneka came out for autographs and we asked her what Cal did to limit her game. She said they had three people on her at all times, but she was proud of the way Chiney stepped up. Then she said, she would rather take Chiney scoring all the points then a loss any day. Oh, BTW, Nneka moved past Val Whiting into fourth place on the Stanford all-time scoring list.
Whew, great win at Maples, but we can’t help but feel anxious for when we play Cal at their home the last game of the season.