Friday, January 23, 2015

True Grit

By Wally Mersereau

The Daily Bruin today had a story on today’s women’s game against Stanford headed “Team looks to establish new tradition”. The story tells of Stanford’s 14 consecutive Pac-12 championships and quotes coach Cori Close as saying “Stanford has an incredible tradition”. The article notes that the UCLA freshmen “have never faced a Tara VanDerveer team” and says the Bruins “see a chance to topple a wobbling empire and start a new legacy in Los Angeles for women’s basketball”.

The first quarter of tonight’s game made this speculation seem plausible as UCLA jumped out to a 26-13 lead and a similar pattern to last week’s ASU game seemed to be taking form. But this time the Cardinal didn’t wait until the second half to begin battling back. Stanford started to understand how to defend the free-scoring Bruins and began to find its own basket. At the half Stanford was down by only three points, 37-40.

The second half found Stanford in control from the get-go. The game was quickly tied on an Amber bucket from beyond the arc and once Stanford took the lead it never gave it back, outscoring the Bruins in the second half 42-30, for a final score of 79-70.

Briana started this game in place of Karlie and was the initial point guard. Her full-tilt play was occasionally out of control, but generally she was effective and she tied as high scorer with 21 points. Also with 21 points was Bonnie who had her greatest game ever by contributing in so many ways and doing so with determination and effectiveness. Her defense was exceptional. She had 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Close behind was Amber with 20 points, 5 assists to 1 turnover, 4 steals, 4 of 4 free throws and 2 of 4 threes. Amber played hard from the opening tip.

Kaylee notched another double-double with 10 points and 17 rebounds. She missed her first four free throws, then made her next four. She ended with 6 of 12 successful trips to the line. She practiced free throws before each half, but this remains a weakness.

Karlie was first off the bench and contributed 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 of 3 three-pointers. She was effective on defense as were all of her teammates after the first 10 minutes.

UCLA is a dangerous team, Nirra Fields was hot with 22 points, but she did her worst damage in the first half.

Stanford’s early come-back and strong second half was a display of true grit. Six players accomplished most of this: the starters plus Karlie. These six players were magnificent, individually and collectively. They gave great effort with poise and courage once they started to cut into the Bruin lead.

UCLA started with a highly effective game plan and initially executed it to perfection, but as the game progressed the tide turned. UCLA fell behind and could never come back. Tonight’s game was not the start of a new tradition in Los Angeles but, rather, was a splendid demonstration of Stanford basketball at its finest.

The Cardinal not only had to face the talented, motivated and well-prepared Bruins, but also had to deal with some poor officiating. On several occasions, UCLA players were clear violators but fouls were called on Stanford. The Bruins play physical, aggressive basketball and get away with more than they should, although they were called for a lot of fouls in the first half.

There was a nice turnout of Stanford fans in Pauley Pavilion, but overall attendance was mediocre. I estimated it at about 1200. From a Stanford fan perspective this was a great game, well worth a trip to LA. The weather today was perfect with a temperature of about 70 degrees. I strolled the UCLA campus this afternoon and was impressed with it and with the students populating it.

No comments:

Post a Comment