Monday, January 13, 2014

In One Day

By Wally Mersereau

Have you ever gone to Colorado to watch a Stanford women’s basketball game and returned the same day? Can you really do that? Well, yes you can and three dedicated Stanford fans did just that on January 12. It makes a long day, but an interesting and enjoyable one, providing a nice change of pace from watching games as a lethargic couch potato and adding a little zest and adventure to our sporting lives.

We set off before dawn in the Bay Area when the Sunday highways were being little used, passed through the sprawling airport and onto a waiting plane that whisked us eastward toward the Rockies. The snow-covered peaks of the western mountains were shining in the sun. We then flew over large expanses of snow stretching to the horizon, with rivers winding through. After a two-hour flight we descended into the Denver airport over surprisingly brown land with only touches of snow here and there.

Transferring to a rental car, we drove west about an hour to the land of the Buffs. After a leisurely and splendid lunch in Boulder, we moved on to the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado campus for the 3 pm game. The weather was dry and the sky was filled with pleasing cloud formations.

We settled into our seats behind the Stanford bench, removed our outerwear, revealing our Stanford garb, and surveyed the scene. The principal sporting event in Denver this day was a Broncos football game that lured some fans away, as the 49ers had done the week before in the Bay Area. My guess at actual attendance at the Coors Center was about 1,000.

Stanford started well and led 55-38 at the half with Chiney contributing 20 points. There were three remarkable aspects of the first half: 1) Stanford’s 3-point shooting, led by Karlie with five and Chiney, Sara and Amber adding one each, 2) Chiney’s 20 points and 3) Stanford’s 100% free throw shooting.

The Colorado team that returned to the floor in the second half was transformed. The Buffs played the remainder of the game with great intensity, maintaining this to the end. The Buffs almost closed the scoring gap as the game neared its end and out-scored the Cardinal by 7 points in the half. The final score was 87-77. Possibly the elevation took a toll on the Stanford players, but the main factors were the consistent and effective efforts of the Colorado team.

Chiney ended with 34 points and 16 rebounds, held back by four fouls that caused her to play with some caution. She was 9 for 9 from the free throw line and made a 3-pointer for the second consecutive game. Taylor and Lili each made a 3-pointer in the second half to raise the game total to 10. Free throw shooting fell off a bit, but still set a season record of 21 of 24, or 87.5%, for the game. Karlie had her finest game, finishing with 19 points, including 5 of 8 3-pointers and 4 of 4 free throws in 26 minutes. Amber fouled out.

There were concurrent off-setting technical fouls involving Karlie and Arielle Roberson, but we did not see this incident and don’t know its details. TV watchers had the advantage here.

We arrived at the Denver airport after the game just in time to board our return flight to SFO , touching down there 13 hours after we had taken off this morning. This was a very satisfying trip, highlighted by an exciting game, with the right team coming out on top.

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