I’m not sure what the opposite of “all’s well that ends well” is--probably something like “all’s bad that ends badly”. That pretty well describes my mood on this rainy Saturday evening in Seattle. Before entering Key Arena for tonight’s Stanford game I had endured two four-game, ten-hour days in that venue. One of the games was a challenging Stanford win over Colorado, but I could have done without the other seven games and not felt deprived at all.
As I entered the arena this evening my confidence in Stanford winning the tournament was high. I expected two difficult, but winnable games. I was pleased that the first 8 games were over and only three remained. I anticipated Stanford would be in two of those games, would win them both and would emerge once more as tournament champion. I thought the hardest game would turn out to be last night against Colorado.
At a chalk talk at the Westin hotel this afternoon, Tempie told us the game plan included tight defense, leaving no USC player unguarded. This was a good plan, but it was not executed well. USC outplayed Stanford, especially on defense. The Trojans achieved a much tighter defense—just the kind Tempie said was Stanford’s objective.
Southern Cal should have been more tired, having played two games in two days. Stanford had only played one. But USC started off ahead. Stanford struggled back after 10 minutes or so and managed to take a small lead, but at the half it was a 32-32 tie. Chiney had 13 points and Lili 7. Crooks had 13 points for the Trojans.
I had expected some effective halftime adjustments. Instead, USC jumped to an 8-point lead and held it until midway in the second half. Stanford then whittled away and finally got a 3-point lead with 3 minutes to go. But in less than a minute the Trojans had taken back the lead, built it to 7 and then held on against Stanford’s frantic efforts. Before the final horn Stanford got within one point, but could get no further.
The desperate fouling by Stanford in the final minute was reasonably effective, but was not enough and the final score was 72-68 with the wrong team on top.
As Stanford fans, we are not conditioned to deal with losses. They are too few and far between to build our tolerance and toughen us to take a loss or two in stride.
Chiney did her part, ending with 30 points despite a lot of misses. Lili and Amber got in low double digits. But it wasn’t enough. The primary reason for the loss was not being able to carry out the game plan of tight defense on every USC player.
This is an elimination tournament and Stanford was eliminated tonight. USC deserved its win after fighting like Trojans.