Neither Stanford basketball team had a particularly memorable day, and the women had more difficulty knocking off the Washington Huskies on Saturday afternoon than they had defeating the Connecticut Huskies in December. Still, Tara VanDerveer’s team pulled out a gritty win in Maples Pavilion, while the men doomed themselves in Seattle with a sloppy first half.
Even fans who did not get a chance to watch this game should be able to tell from Stanford’s final point total and slim (for Stanford) margin of victory that the Card didn’t play their sharpest 40 minutes of the season. VanDerveer called the game a “wake up call” for her team, which is currently ranked third in the country and is looking to both reach its fourth straight Final Four and win its first national championship since 1992.
The bulk of the Card’s problems came from a collectively poor shooting night. The team shot 37% from the field and 5% from three, and even had an uncharacteristically mediocre day from the free throw line (70%). Of the nine Stanford women who checked in on Saturday, only Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike shot above 25% from the field.
Unsurprisingly, the sisters were the best part of Stanford’s performance. Nneka scored a team-high 22 points and collected 9 rebounds, while freshman Chiney recorded a career-high 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to reach the double-double. Nneka also needed relatively little time to fill up the stat sheet. Despite the narrow winning margin, she played only 28 minutes.
Washington was just two makes away from shooting 50% from the field as a team, and shot an even 50% from three, but attempted 10 fewer shots than Stanford did and shot fewer than half as many free throws as the Card, a team that opponents have to foul merely to keep Stanford’s height and athleticism in check.
Another familiar story emerged from Stanford’s opponent: one player had a nice scoring game, but none of her teammates produced enough to give Washington the points needed to win. Washington junior wing Kristi Kingma tied N. Ogwumike for the game-high 22 points, including 5 three-pointers. But despite the team’s overall shooting efficiency, no other Husky broke through as a clear #2 scoring option alongside Kingma.
This was a classic case of a great team having an off-game and still pulling out a win. It’s hard to believe that Stanford’s shooting won’t return to its usual efficiency (around 45-50%) soon.
Stanford moves to 22-2 overall and 13-0 in the PAC-10. They will go back on the road to play the Los Angeles schools next weekend, beginning with a Friday night match-up with USC.
Men fall to Washington, 87-76
Stanford outplayed the Huskies in the second half, but could not recover from a poor first half, in which they were outscored by 17. Stanford has struggled to win in Seattle and has struggled everywhere with Washington’s physicality and aggressive defense. Tonight was no exception. Stanford forward Jeremy Green had his fourth straight 20+ point game by going for 24 points, and freshman guard Anthony Brown scored 15. Josh Owens chipped in another 12 points, but the rest of the starting line-up and the bench could not provide any significant offensive production for the Card. Freshman forward John Gage, whose shots on the day did not include a single 2-pointer, scored 9 points on 3-5 shooting from three.
Washington, though, was able to spread the ball around and involve several scorers. Point guard Isaiah Thomas led the team with 22 points, but forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, guard Venoy Overton, and guard C.J. Wilcox all had double-digits nights at home. Washington played 10 men, and 9 of them played 16 minutes or more.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the game was the level of argument. The officials called 3 technical fouls, and 2 (one on head coach Johnny Dawkins, the other on Brown) went against Stanford. We’ve yet to see that level of uncontrolled emotion from this team.
Stanford falls to 13-11 overall and 6-7 in the PAC-10. They return to 5th place in the conference standings, but can tie the number of last year’s wins with just one more victory which, if all else fails, appears almost guaranteed during a March 1 home game against Seattle University.
Stanford will return to the Farm to host UCLA on Thursday at 7:30 PM.