Editor's Note: Another great FanPost here, and on the cover.
Subtitled: Don’t Mess with Texas, Just Beat ‘em
The Stanford Women’s Basketball team played Texas, and it was a home coming of sorts with four former Texas players for Stanford, three on the starting roster.
Texas had some interesting players, too. One was a Nneka, Nneka Enemkpali, who shares the unique name with Nneka Ogwumike, who had a stellar career for Stanford and graduated two years ago and is sister to current Stanford starter Chiney Ogwumike. And it was Chiney vs. Nneka as they took turns guarding each other. C and R have never cheered against a Nneka so it was new territory for all of us.
Texas also has Imani McGee-Stafford, who is 6 foot 7 inches. It’s like playing another Brittney Griner. Her mother is basketball standout Pam McGee, who played in the WNBA, won two national championships at Southern California and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, and her brother is JaVale McGee currently plays for the Denver Nuggets. Wowza!
The game opened with Stanford in their black uniforms that C loves. Freshmen Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson (now nick named KSam to differentiate her from her sister, Bonnie, BSam) got the start, to compliment veterans Amber Orrrrange, Mikalea Ruef and all-everything Chiney Ogwumike. (Ogwumike, Thompson and Orrrrange are the three from Texas).
Then 6’7" (sorry, takes too long to type her name) is blocking and shooting threes. Which brings an interesting point, why is she at the high high post at the three point line? C and R see she is setting screens out there but then she is so out of place for rebounds. Good thing she missed a lot of open shots close to the basket when she did move inside, going 4-14 for the game.
On one play 6-7 split two Stanford defenders and went straight to the basket and no one in a black uniform could stop her. Her lay in is practically a dunk. Good thing she did not do a lot of that and good thing her jump shot is suspect, because when she did shoot, she missed. She also traveled a lot when she put the ball on the floor. As we have said about Brittney Griner in the past, just have her stand on the low block and throw her the ball to her outstretched hands. No one can stop that without fouling. Good thing this was not in the game plan for Texas. And when she did screen, she shifted and stuck out elbows. Stanford finally got a call when she elbowed Lili, who at 5’7 gives up a foot off height to her.
Early in the first half, it was Mikaela Ruef stepping up and scoring. Ruef was guarded by 6-7, and when the Texas center stayed in the paint to help against Chiney, Ruef was left open. Ruefie was the lone bright spot in first half with 10 points.
Texas also got to the free throw line a lot more than Stanford in the first. It was 16 free throw attempts for Texas vs. three for Stanford, with Texas getting 10 points off of the FTs. Stanford did not go to the free throw line in the first 17 minutes.
In the first half, Stanford was missing rebounds. The announcers did point out at the top of the show that Texas is also a good rebounding team, and dang they were. Texas dominated the offensive glass, getting 10 points off of second chances. Texas was beating Stanford at its own game with offensive rebounds, and the first half stats were 28 rebounds for Texas, 17 for Stanford. The second half wasn’t better, Stanford getting out-rebounded 55-40.
So that brings us to Chiney. First of all, through no fault of her own, Chiney couldn’t get her usual traction around the basket due to 6’7. UConn proved in two games in two years that if you push Chiney off the low block, she doesn’t do well. Texas saw this tape and kept Chiney out of the paint. Stanford would have NO points in the paint in the first half. That’s right, not a typo, no points in the paint in the first.
Chiney said she is working on her outside game, just as her sister Nneka before her. So this was as good as time as any to use it. Except, it wasn’t quite ready for prime time, at least not in the first half. Chiney shot a long two, not even close, air balled a three, and consistently hit the front of the rim on her long shots. In Stanford’s final possession, she had to throw up a quick three with time running down, her second air ball of the half, much to the amusement of the Texas student body.
Lest you think C and R are picking on our Chiney, here is her post game quote: "This game forced me to be outside, and it was a little uncomfortable at times," Ogwumike said.
Chiney was held to just four first half points.
To be sure, Stanford was lucky to "only" be down 37-30.
But we would be remiss to point out that Chiney still contributed in the first. She set up a screen to free up KSam that allowed her to knock down a three. Had a block. And then after (we are sure) a verbal tongue lashing from Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer in the locker room at half, (we’ve been inside those lockers a half, we know), came the second half.
The second half started and here comes Chiney, or "You can’t keep an Ogwumike down" (for long). Chiney opened the second half with another perimeter shot and missedThen the next time she touched the ball she drove in, pump faked and got the basket over 6’7, like old times. Then back to the outside jump shot and a miss. Ugh. She was 3-13 from the field after 23 minutes. Settling for jumpers instead of attacking the rim.
Then the announcers decided to interview Jody Conradt, the long time University of Texas coach who has 900 wins. They let her talk while the action was going on. In fact, the more she talked, the better Stanford seemed to do. Stanford got the lead for the first time in 10 minutes with a wild back and forth fast breaking and stealing and stealing back and Amber finishes for the 41-40 lead. Then Chiney gets a steal and a lay up. Then she hit one from outside, and she could do no wrong.
In fact, Stanford went on a 15-0 run to go up 47-40 as Jody is talking. Chiney scored 10, had 2 steals and a block in the seven and a half minute stretch. Amber Orrange provided five of the 15 during that run. Amber would have 13 points and eight rebounds for the game, including five in the final 60 seconds of the contest.
Stanford held Texas without a field goal for the opening 9:20 of the second half, and to just five field goals and 17 points in the final 20 minutes. The five field goals were a season-low for any half this season by a Cardinal opponent.
Chills when Chiney fouls out with 2 minutes to play and Stanford leading 56-47. Hang on Stanford! (Their Nneka fouls out with 33 seconds to play.). Chiney would leave the game with 18 points, 14 in the second half.
But Amber Orrange to the rescue with Chiney on the bench,. Amber had a big steal, two big rebounds and shoot six big (everything’s bigger in Texas) free throws, making five in those final two minutes. Stanford would hang on to win 63-54.
Other notables: Mikaela Ruef played a team-high 36 minutes, posting her first double-double of the season with a season-high 11 points and 10 rebounds. Curious, as good as Chiney was in the second half, Ruefie scored all of her points in the first. Need those two to score in tandem.
Sara James played a season-high 18 minutes Saturday, scoring six points (She is coming off double compartment syndrome surgery to her lower legs). Stanford matched its season high with six three-pointers, led by two apiece from Sara and Lili Thompson.
Coach Tara VanDerveer earned career victory No. 898, moving her closer to being just the fifth women's coach to reach 900, like Jody Conradt. Unfortunately, TVD will probably get it at the tournament in Mexico that will not be televised or seen by local fans. What a shame.