Stanford prevailed in the Sweet Sixteen over South Carolina 76-60, but it was a hard fought contest. South Carolina was undersized, yet they wanted to minimize Stanford’s second chance points, so they won the rebounding game 38-36. They planned on being physical with Stanford sisters Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, and they were, twice knocking Chiney to the ground in obvious pain on her already wobbly knee. They keyed on the inside players wanting to make the outside (read other players not named Ogwumiek) try to beat them. Two out of three ain’t bad.
South Carolina was physical and they keyed on the sisters, but they still could not stop Nneka. Nneka scored 39 and grabbed 10 rebounds, and stayed in the game with 3 fouls. Chiney, not her usual self on rebounds and put-backs due to her knee, had four blocked shots and contributed 11 points, and still managed to get 10 boards. In fact, the sisters scored Stanford’s first 14 points, and 50 of Stanford’s 76.
A the start of the game, Chiney came out of the locker room wearing a huge knee brace, which had C and R speculate there might be a tear in there somewhere. After the game Chiney called the brace more cautionary then necessary, and Tara VanDerveer is paranoid to a fault about knee injuries to players, so we will see. Still, Chiney went down twice. The first time she was undercut as she went up for a rebound and fell hard. The second time she was knocked to the ground and hit the knee full on, which caused obvious pain on her face.
Luckily, the refs called a foul on that play, which was always in question as they let obvious brutal contact go and then would call strange non-fouls. In a word they were horrible. Bonnie Samuelson came in to take Chiney’s shots as she went to the bench with ice on her knee, and made both. Nneka had three fouls, and South Carolina was licking their chops thinking she was going to go to the bench for a long stretch but if there is anyone Tara can trust to not foul, it’s Nneka. She would make her coach look good.
C and R got to see a lot of the contact up close. We did make the pilgrimage to Fresno, and our original seats were up high and off to the side of the basket, behind all the action, so we went down behind the basket where apparently they didn’t sell any seats and had the section to ourselves (we did share with the Stanford band). Unfortunate for us, Tinkle’s wild throw for a three to end the half and make Stanford go into the locker room 36-30 was at the opposite end. BTW, that was Stanford’s only three of the night. We did see Chiney’s second fall and grimaces of pain and Nneka’s concerned handholding. Also saw Chiney get bandaged up twice and blood removed from her jersey as she had actually claw marks on her arm. Guess what, no foul was called.
Then C got food poisoning (thanks Fresno) and barely survived the night.
Monday’s Elite Eight is against Duke, the team the East Coast media at one point said should be seeded higher than Stanford. Duke’s outstanding guard Chelsea Gray is a sorta hometown girl and had 50 of her fans there Saturday. The announced crowd was 3,754, but it seemed like more, still off the type of crowds we see on the East Coast. We can’t go back to Fresno for Monday’s game, what with life and work getting in the way, however the game is televised, and starts at 6:00 PM Stanford time. Go Card, fifth final four and Nneka last are on the line!