Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year’s Eve in Westwood

By Wally Mersereau

A fast-paced 77-50 win over UCLA was a nice way to end the year and set the stage for a romp to Stanford’s first Pac-12 conference title. Especially because the Bruins had picked off Cal two days earlier 60-55 in the same venue.

Because Pauley Pavilion is being reconstructed, the game was played in the adjacent Wooden Center on the UCLA campus. The UCLA ticket office had told me all seating was general admission, but this was incorrect and half of seating along one side of the court was reserved, apparently for Bruin season ticket holders. Wooden has a capacity of only 1,800. Seating is on all four sides of the court in benches that go eight rows high. There is a single concession stand.

I arrived at 12:50 pm to find a long line of well over a hundred waiting for the doors to open at 1:00 pm. By the time I got inside all of the top row seats which let you lean back against the wall were taken so I took an aisle seat on one of the plastic-topped benches. The benches are slightly contoured, making them a little more comfortable than the upper level benches in Maples.

For once, my estimate of actual attendance and the official count closely agreed. I guessed there were about 1,500 there and the official attendance is 1,426. There were at least 100 Stanford fans present, twice as many as at the Thursday night USC game.

Only 9 Bruins were suited up to play, with 5 injured players on the UCLA bench. Unlike USC, there was no band and only a scratchy recording of the UCLA fight song was played when that team took the floor. One encouraging sight was Mikaela jogging across the floor before the game to get practice balls indicating some mending of her injured foot.

Wooden shows only the score with no display of player numbers or points. The announcer gave the count of personal fouls when these occurred, but no report of cumulative points scored by individuals.

As a suggestion that the game was not going to go UCLA’s way were three Bruin fouls in the first 90 seconds. And, unlike the USC game where the Trojans kept narrowing Stanford’s lead in both halves, this game provided a steadily expanding Cardinal lead. With 11:30 remaining in the first half, Stanford was up by 3, with 5:30 left in the half up by 8 and at the half the score was 40-23.

The second half was more of the same as the Stanford lead grew to 19, then 25, then 32 with 4 minutes left in the game. All Stanford players got on the court and 10 players had more than 11 minutes each.

The Big Three of Nneka, Chiney and Toni led the way with a combined total of 44 points. Both Nneka and Chiney had double-doubles with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Nneka and 15 points and 11 rebounds for Chiney. Stanford’s free throw shooting improved from 59% at USC to 70% today. But Cardinal 3-point shooting was dismal, connecting on only 2 of 13 attempts for 15%, with Toni and Sara getting one apiece.

UCLA played aggressive defense, occasionally pressing and trapping, but it could not contain Stanford. Stanford topped UCLA in rebounds 49 to 27. The Cardinal had 19 assists to 14 turnovers, while UCLA ended with a mere 5 assists to 11 turnovers. This game was Stanford all the way, ending with a decisive win that puts Stanford at 2-0 in conference play.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

USC Plays Tough at Home

By Wally Mersereau

It was a sloppy, hard-fought battle at the Galen Center on Thursday night with Stanford able to prevail in the last 8 minutes. Up to that point the game could have gone either way.

Stanford built a 12-point lead in the first half only to have USC cut it to 3 points at the half, 33-30. USC held close for most of the second half, achieving a 41-41 tie with 12 minutes left, then taking a small lead. With 8 minutes left Stanford was up only 46-44. Stanford then went on a 8-0 run to get the score to 54-44 with 4 ½ minutes left. In the ending minutes USC outscored Stanford 9 to 7, but it wasn’t enough for the Women of Troy, with Stanford hanging on for a final score of 61-53.

Senior point guard Ashley Corral had a great game for USC, ending with 21 points. Christina Marinacci had 12 points and 9 rebounds, Briana Gilbreath had 7 points and 12 rebounds. USC made 71% of its free throws. Stanford made an embarrassing 59% at the line with Chiney reverting to her free throw funk, making only 4 of 9. Nneka did well at the line with 7 of 8.

Tara used 10 players, but only 6 had more than 10 minutes—the starters plus Bonnie. Bonnie made her first two 3-point shots, but then missed her next 3. She contributed respectable defense, including a block.

Stanford was led by Nneka with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Stanford could not have won without her. Toni continued her stellar play with 15 points and 3 steals. Chiney achieved a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

This was a thrilling game, but it didn’t bring out USC fans. My guess at total attendance is 1,000, including about 50 or so Stanford fans. All seating was general admission and the most expensive ticket was $7. Parking in the adjacent garage was $10.

The LA Times continues to give almost no coverage to women’s college basketball. Today the Times gave a preview of the USC and UCLA men’s games that were played in the Bay Area, but gave only one line to the local USC and UCLA women’s games with nary a comment. In contrast, the New York Times devoted more than half a page to the Texas A&M women today.

Cindy and John Pohlen attended. Lisa Leslie had a front row mid-court seat. Ros Gold-Onwude was doing the KZSU commentary and went over for a half-time chat with Lisa. Several former Stanford players were there, including Krista Rappahahn.

So Stanford is 1-0 in Pac-12 play, but it was a worrisome win, as road games often are.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Good seats at University of Oregon

Thanks to our helpful rep Jason at OU, we have a commitment that our block of seats at Matt Knight Arena will be in section 102, behind the visiting bench. Here's the floor plan.

Three people have signed up so far; keep it comin'!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OU Brunch and Ticket Buy

Fan Brunch Before OU Game

The Cardinal play Oregon in Eugene at 2pm, Saturday February 18th

Prior to that game, Andrew Nelson and others of the Eugene alumni group will host a brunch for visiting fans at a local restaurant convenient to Knight Arena. No booking or prepayment is needed for this, but we would like an idea of how many are coming -- see below!

Group Ticket Buy

We will pre-purchase a block of seats for this OU game. (For the OSU game of Thursday evening, 2/16, buy at the door.)

To participate in the ticket buy, please request your seats by email to travel (at) soon, but at any rate no later than the Washington game of January 21st. Whether or not you want tickets, use the same email address to say if you plan to attend the pregame brunch in Eugene.

Hopefully we'll have tickets to hand out at the "Behind the Bench" after the UCLA game of February 12th.