Monday, March 28, 2011

How sweet it is!

By Wally Mersereau

What a difference a game makes! There are wins and there are wins. Two nights ago I was wrung out after the down-to-the-end battle with North Carolina with Jeanette making only one basket from the floor. After this game, along with all of the Stanford fans present, I was thrilled, happy and had plenty of energy. At the trophy presentation the words were: "The trophy for the Spokane Regional is presented to Stanford University along with an invitation to the Final Four in Indianapolis". No sweeter words could have been spoken. How amazing that this team is going to its fourth consecutive Final Four!

It was especially satisfying for this win over Gonzaga to end in such a dominating manner. All over Spokane were signs reading "Good luck, Lady Zags" and "Go Zags". 11,000 locals packed the Spokane Arena and roared in anticipation before the game. An article about Courtney Vandersloot in today's Spokesman-Review came close to having her walking on water. She is a truly outstanding player who can do just about everything. In the first half she was unstoppable, making 21 points this way and that. But in the second half Courtney made only 4 points and her team made only 8 of 34 shots.

There was a nice send-off of the team from the Davenport Hotel (they stayed in the old hotel this time) with the band, Dollies and Tree performing before a line of clapping players and a good representation of fans. The news of Tennessee's loss to Notre Dame was learned by smartphone just at the opening tip-off of the game and that put Cardinal fans in a good mood. Nneka, as usual, got the opening tip and Stanford scored first. Slowly, Stanford pulled ahead. The lead was one after 4 minutes, 8 after 7 minutes, 10 after 10 minutes. Then Gonzaga battled back, led by Courtney, narrowing the lead to 5 points with 6 minutes to go. At the half Stanford led 47-38. At that point Nneka led Stanford scoring with 15 points to Courtney's 21.

The second half was all Stanford. With 16 minutes to go the lead was 16, it grew to 20 with 12 minutes left and to 23 with 7 minutes remaining. The final score was a sweet 83-60, with Mel making a pretty floating lay-up just before the end.

The box score is not available as I write this, but in this game minutes played were mostly by the starters. Toni came off the bench first, then Joslyn, then Mikaela. Jeanette had a few wild passes in the first half and Tara sent Mel in to replace her just before the half ended. My impression is that the starters played almost all of the second half. There was no reason to replace them as they shut down Gonzaga while scoring and rebounding at will.

Jeanette had five 3-pointers to bring her season total for threes to 93, breaking Krista Rappahahn's Stanford record by two. Lindy and Kayla added more threes. At one point Kayla had four straight rebounds and she had more as she nears the season rebound record. If Nneka wasn't scoring or rebounding, Chiney was. Nneka led Stanford scoring with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Chiney had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Jeanette had 17 points and Lindy 11. Kayla's totals are not available to me now, but she was everywhere, doing everything. There was nothing hesitant about the team tonight. They played with confidence and great determination. There were a few mistakes, but they were far outweighed by stellar playing, individually and collectively. This was a great team performance, unfazed by the 98% Gonzaga capacity crowd. And certainly Tara and her crew did an outstanding job, especially with half-time adjustments.

The All-Regional Team was announced at the end of the game: Italee Lucas of North Carolina, Courtney Vandersloot, Kayla, Chiney and Nneka with Nneka being named MVP.

I was expecting to greet the team when it returned to the Davenport, but learned that it headed straight for the airport after the game for a charter flight home.

And so it is off to the Final Four once again. How sweet it is! May the good times continue.

4 comments:

  1. For key games (which they all our now!), ESPN keeps almost live box scores at http://espn.go.com/womens-college-basketball/scoreboard - yesterdays are at http://espn.go.com/womens-college-basketball/scoreboard?date=20110328

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  2. Wally Mersereau3/29/2011 11:40 AM

    Thanks. I'll make a note of that. I waited an hour for the box score to come up on the AP report, then had to start writing.

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  3. Also, espn3.com has (look under schedule/replay) the whole game including the entire net cutting - don't know for how long.

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  4. I was a nervous wreck on Monday. Like Wally we spent a long time in the wrong Will Call line on Saturday. Then later it started to bother me that we didn't get our tickets for the Monday game. But I read Wally's post where he said that he got his "ticket" - singular instead of plural. So I felt better and, of course, our tickets were waiting at the designated Will Call window.
    But the game was great and the Zag and Cardinal fans got along okay. When Vandersloot left the game every Stanford fan joined the home crowd in giving her a standing ovation. This was noted in the Spokane paper and you can even see "Big Wayne" Tinkle on the front page standing in the background as Courtney left the court.
    After the game we joined several Stanford fans in the Fireside lounge of the Davenport Hotel. (To those who have never been to Spokane, the Davenport Hotel is an experience in itself). Some are going to Indianapolis and some are not. Some of us worry that if we keep taking time from work, work might decide we aren't needed!

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