By now, everyone has heard the story of the Penn State coaches hanging out with Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer in the offseason to pick her brain on the triangle offense. Guess Tara forgot to show them the back door option.
Stanford played their best ball in a long, long time. Perhaps the long season wore on them, but the last quarter of the Pac-12 season was a little lackluster. Not today. And not when playing in Maples.
Penn State and the Stanford Women’s Basketball team were playing in the Sweet Sixteen, held on Stanford’s home court. Much has been written about having neutral sites, but the truth is fans don’t come out if their home team is not playing, the site loses a lot of money, and a lot of empty seats happen. So while this is an inelegant solution, the powers that be are still scratching their heads on how to make this better.
Penn State came out powerful and athletic, and kept it close for about half of the first half. Then Stanford got hot, All-Everything Chiney Ogwumike got going, and Stanford played shutdown defense. Stanford outscored Penn State 25-7 to end the half and held Penn State without a field goal for nearly six and a half minutes.
Bonnie Samuelson, Mikaela Ruef and Lili Thompson play good D on Lucas (Photo Courtesy of Kelley L Cox )
Stanford’s Lili Thompson got the assignment to guard Penn State’s great scorer, Maggie Lucas. She averages about 21 points a game. Lili held her to 6 points in the fist half. And for the game? Six points. That’s right they shut her down in the second half. Lucas was scoreless. Tied her career low, too. She was 3-for-14 from the floor, including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. Her last points were nine and a half minutes left in the first. Wowsa!
Penn State set screens, and even double screens, to try to free up their outside shooter Lucas, but nobody prepares for a game like Tara Vanderveer. Stanford knew the screens were coming and either got over them or switched personal on her so she never got an open look.
Shout out to Mikeala Ruef. Ruefie helped on a lot of those switches on Lucas and played intense defense. She also contributed 11 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals. She was one of two Stanford players that got a double-double. The other was that beast Chiney Ogwumike. She had 29 points and 15 rebounds. That marked her 25th double-double of the season, and 83 for her career. Double Wowsa! Amber Orrrrange was second in scoring for Stanford with 18 points. Lili Thompson and Mikaela Ruef both finished the game with 11 points. That’s four, count-em, four in double figures. Stanford will need that kind of effort from everyone from now on.
Shout out to former Stanford alums Nneka Ogwumike, Jayne Appel, Kayla Pedersen, Lindy Larocque and Sarah Boothe in the house. Noticed Toni Kokenis was sitting in the stands with them. Wonder if it was a NCAA rule she couldn’t be on the bench?
Come back to Maples Tuesday night at 6PM Stanford time when they take on North Carolina (Oh yeah, number one seed South Carolina didn’t even make it to the elite eight, go figure).