Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tough Triumph in Tempe

By Wally Mersereau

With great effort and determination Stanford pulled out a hard-fought win over Arizona State 62-49 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe on Thursday night. It was a sloppy, but great game. ASU interim head coach Joseph Anders said before the game that Stanford would have to earn every step, every bounce and every catch. He couldn’t have been more right. It took everything Tara and her team could bring forth to overcome the battling Sun Devils.

Neither team played well in the first half, which ended with a 28-28 tie. At that point Nneka had 11 points and 7 rebounds, Chiney 7 points and 6 rebounds.

With Tara’s half-time adjustments, Stanford built a 6-point lead in the second half, only to have the Sun Devils fight back to a 40-40 tie with 12 minutes to go. Stanford then exploded in a 20-2 run in the next 9 minutes to go ahead 60-42. The sisters combined for 13 points during that run.

The final sister stats were: Nneka with 22 points, 16 rebounds, 1 block and a steal in 36 minutes and Chiney with 20 points, 16 rebounds and 2 steals in 37 minutes.

Toni played her heart out and pushed her body to the point of exhaustion. She had 7 points, 6 assists and 3 steals in 39 minutes, but her stats don’t tell the story. She was superb, always playing well, running the team from the point even when she was worn out.

Lindy had only 1 point and 1 rebound in 24 minutes, but she also was a vital contributor. I would not have taken away one of her minutes. Amber had no points or rebounds, along with 2 assists, 3 turnovers and a steal in her 12 minutes. Stanford clearly played better tonight with Toni at the point and Lindy at the 2.

Taylor made Stanford’s only 3-point shots—three of them. The first two were close together and came at a crucial time in the first half to help catch up with the Devils. Her third 3-pointer was during the 20-2 run. Taylor played with poise in her 26 minutes, ending with 10 points and 4 rebounds.

Joslyn also was vital for this game, ending with only 2 points, but 6 rebounds and a block.

Both teams had excellent defensive efforts. ASU had only 10 players, all of whom played at least 8 minutes. Kali Bennett of ASU, a 6-5 redshirt senior, was much improved over previous years. She ended the game with 9 points, 9 rebounds, 6 blocks and 2 steals. Kali is a banger and she got banged up in the second half, first with a nose injury which required a prominent bandage and then a painful hip injury that took her out of the game with 5 minutes remaining. She would have caused more problems, but fouls kept her on the bench for extended time in the first half.

Stanford had twice the rebounds as did ASU, 48 to 24 and that was a major difference. Stanford had three 3s (all by Taylor) to ASU’s two. Stanford was 68% at the free throw line, ASU 70%.

Attendance was not up to previous years. Only 2,000 turned out, including Kayla Pedersen’s and Nicole Powell’s parents.

Despite the sloppy play, I was pleased with Stanford belatedly putting the hammer down and coming away with a challenging win on the road. This game was really hard and the win was well earned.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Wally, for your excellent commentary and insights. I particularly like the recognition for the players who were vital to the win in ways that didn't fully show up on the stat sheet -- Toni, Lindy, Jos. What a battle. Everyone on the team should be very proud of the effort. But equally, what a frustration to watch it on TV with the lame, uninformated commentary of Mary Murphy in particular. But at least we had TV.