Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two freshmen lead the way

By Wally Mersereau

Nneka was on the sideline wearing a nondescript, non-matching sweat suit. She walked slowly and somewhat gingerly and with a slightly halting step, but she was walking and showed no sign of pain. It was worrisome to have her out of the crucial UCLA game at Pauley Pavilion. Who would be able to make up for her points, rebounds and leadership against the quick and aggressive Bruins determined to get retribution for their earlier loss at Maples?

The answer was #13 and #31--whether you read them forward or backward, they were the answer. Of course it was a team effort and a great one under difficult circumstances. But the decisive factors were two freshmen, Chiney and Toni. They were magnificent. Chiney filled in for her sister and got the opening tip-off. Toni did not start (although she did start the second half and scored the first basket for that period), but both players were in the game for 37 minutes, trailing only Kayla who played the entire 40 minutes. Jeanette was not able to carry out Tara's order not to foul. She did so five times, being forced to leave the game with less than a minute remaining. Despite her foul trouble, Jeanette still played 34 minutes and scored 10 points. These were the Big Four of this game.

This was the last time Stanford will play in the old Pauley. It will close on April 1 for a major renovation and will re-open for the 2012-13 season. The exterior work is already underway. While not certain, it is likely that women's games next season will be in the John Wooden Rec Center which is located kitty-corner from Pauley and seats 1,800. That is plenty of seats for most UCLA women's games, but it would have been woefully inadequate today with an official attendance of 6,725. I think that is an accurate figure. I thought there were about 8 to 10 times more people at the UCLA game than were at Galen Center two days before.

UCLA's frequent pressing and trapping only worked once early in the game when Jeanette was caught in a trap with no escape, but managed to call a time out. After that the Bruins were always pesky and often slowed Stanford's progression down the court, but never were able to trap again.

Toni was first off the bench, going in for Lindy about three minutes into the game. She never came out, scoring a splendid 13 points and grabbing 3 steals. Chiney, drenched in sweat, was high scorer with 18 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Chiney's greatest contribution was at the free throw line, a place where she did not do well early in the season. Today her style of play earned her 12 free throws and she made 10 of them. Free throws won the game for Stanford. The only two misses were Chiney's. Kayla was 4 for 4 and Jeanette and Toni were both 2 for 2. Altogether Stanford made 20 of 22 free throws, an awesome 91% team percentage--yielding six points more than the 14-point victory margin. Rebounds were about even, 38 for Stanford, 37 for UCLA. Both teams were relatively weak at 3-point shooting with almost equal low percentages. Jeanette did best for three with 3 out of 5, Toni made 2 out of 3.

There was another really bad officiating call, again involving Toni charging the basket, that again brought Tara to her feet looking as if she was ready for another technical, but she calmed herself in time. That was followed by a couple of favorable calls for Stanford that pretty much evened things out.

At the half the score was tied 28-28. Tara did some of her usual adjustments and the team carried them out well in the second half to end with a 67-53 win. This was a great win to cap a great weekend in the Southland. The game was a thriller and Stanford gave a gutsy performance with Nneka looking on.

Nikki Caldwell wore a tight-fitting pants suit and her usual heels. The UCLA band chanted each player's name three times before the game as they always do. I really like that. Josie Bruin was there, but not Joe. The band played a rousing bit from Carmina Burana just before tip-off. After the game, Nikki Caldwell addressed the fans as she always does. She had nice words for Stanford, saying the Cardinal play the kind of basketball UCLA aspires to.

Last season Ros Gold-Onwude scored 18 points, including two last-minute free throws to help Stanford to a 65-61 win over UCLA at Pauley. Today Ros, wearing a spiffy pink jacket, was seated next to Jake Kelman providing the color commentary on KZSU during another Stanford win that should assure yet another Pac-10 title. This was a biggie and Stanford met the challenge.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent article. Minor correction: stats show that on 3's Jeanette was 2-9 and Toni 1-2. Thanks for great commentary!

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  2. Well, of course these leading things always came in my mind and must say that if we can answer these questions to myself then nothing can stop us to reach the highest leading sales in the market.. Thanks for the awareness program.

    Lead Answer in leading way

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