Stanford Shines in Senior Night

Senior Night for the Stanford Women’s Basketball team is always emotional. Some get overwhelmed emotionally. Some cry. Some feed off the energy and family in attendance and set a new career high during the game. That someone is Chiney Ogwumike.

Stanford Seniors
Stanford Seniors! Sara James, Mikaela Ruef, Toni Kokenis, Chiney Ogwumike (Photo courtesy of Pac-12 Networks )

A few years ago, Stanford broke with tradition of having the senior ceremony right before the actual game, due to several players being overcome with emotion and then not playing very good basketball. So after Stanford beat Washington by a score of 84 to 64 and officially won the Pac-12 regular season title, Stanford fans stayed behind and the players and families were introduced, speeches were made, and yes, tears were shed. But not from one Chiney Ogwumike. She said she wouldn’t cry, she is too happy, too happy for her four years at Stanford and all the rich and varied experiences it has brought her.

Chiney was honored along with Sara James (must be called Sejjie we learned), Mikaela Ruef, who is a fifth year senior and went through this last year as she was not sure if she was coming back, and Toni Kokenis. Toni retired last year after repeated concussions, yet choose to stay with the team and attend every practice and game even though she could no longer participate. Of course someone asked if she missed the game. The emotional answer was yes.

A big shout out to Mama Ogwumike for an eloquent speech on how thankful she has been for the Stanford family and how they had embraced her daughters. Yes, you can’t talk about Chiney Ogwumike’s Stanford career without mentioning older sister Nneka Ogwumike, who had a stellar Stanford collegiate career and was the number one draft pick in the WNBA and went on to win rookie of the year (and that last year with Nneka as a senior and Chiney as a sophomore was a thing of remarkable beauty to watch unfold). But Mrs. Ogwumike said when it is all said and done, it is the relationships that have been built that will be remembered and treasured forever. Dad Peter was reluctantly prodded into speaking too, and his booming voice showed where Chiney gets her heart and passion for playing. Don’t you want to be adopted by the Ogwumikes?

So in the game, as we mentioned, Chiney scored a career high and Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer let her, meaning she kept her in long enough to get number 37, a point over her old record before Tara took her out for a rousing standing ovation with two minutes left. And truthfully, Stanford needed her points AND her defense. Washington State was not going away, despite being down all game. They have two really good guards in Lia and Tia who did not give up, and really took it to the basket. I am sure WSU and the entire Pac-12 nation is glad Chiney is a senior.

More game facts:
Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike scored a career-high 37 points with 13 rebounds for her 13th 30-point game and 22nd double-double of the season. She scored 21 of those points in the first half. Chiney Ogwumike’s 37 points increased her career scoring total to 2,580, bringing her to 50 points away from breaking Candice Wiggins’ Pac-12 record of 2,629 career points. Chiney already has the Pac-12 career rebounding record, so every rebound builds the record. She currently stands at 1,483.

Junior point guard Amber Orrange scored 20 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists. She came just two points and one rebound shy of her respective career highs.

Junior forward Bonnie Samuelson scored 10 points for her fourth double-digit scoring performance over the past five games. She hit two 3-pointers in the game.

Speedy Freshie Briana Roberson continues her energetic play, scoring eight, which I believe ties her career high.

One disturbing trend, Stanford was 4-23 for 3-pointers. When teams key on inside player Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford must make outside shots to open things up and have a more balanced scoring attack. This will be imperative in the NCAA tournament, especially if Stanford wants to come back to Maples for the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.

Stanford is the 14-time Pac-12 champion and the No. 1 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament for the 13th time this year. They get a bye in Seattle and will start in the quarterfinals, facing the winner of Thursday night’s UCLA-Colorado first-round contest.

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