March 27, 2017

Lexington wrap-up

Second-seed Cardinal topple Fighting Irish to head to thirteenth Final Four. by Lorenzo Rosas (Stanford Daily)

Stanford stages massive comeback to stun Notre Dame, by Paige Sherrard (Swish Appeal)

The last two minutes:

From an unhappy Notre Dame locker room: Regret clutters Notre Dame women's basketball locker room, by Al Lesar (South Bend Tribune)

An interview with Caspar, Wyoming's pride and joy: Final Four Bound Kaylee Johnson Interview, from KCWY Caspar, WY

The daily Samuelson Sisters story: Samuelson sisters cheer each other's NCAA Tournament runs, from the Associated Press

March 26, 2017

Cardinal takes the fight out of the Irish!

Stanford spotted Notre Dame a 16-point lead, then clawed back into the game to grab a one-point, come-from-behind, upset triumph in the Elite Eight.

The announced crowd in the cavernous Rupp Arena was 2,527 on a damp Sunday in Lexington. The great majority of folks in the stands wore the Irish green; a cluster of a hundred or so in cardinal tried to out-shout them from behind the Stanford bench.

Through the first quarter the teams seemed well-matched, and Stanford held several small leads. Then in the second quarter Stanford fell into a scoring drought while Notre Dame's phenomenal freshman, Arike Ogunbowale drove freely to the basket. After allowing a 13-0 run for the Irish, Tara called time; shortly after, Ogunbowale closed the half with a three leaving Stanford down 14.

That became a 16-point deficit shortly into the third quarter when Notre Dame's equally dangerous Marina Mabrey hit a jumper. There was gloom among the red- shirted fans, who didn't known that this marked the start of a historic recovery. It began with a three by Brittany, then a jumper by Alanna, then another three from Brittany. With the score 43-51, Notre Dame called a timeout. A few minutes later Bird made a layup and Karlie hit a three to bring Stanford within four; Brittany made a layup to close out the quarter with a 16-point deficit reduced to just two, 55-57.

The fourth quarter was a tense, see-saw battle. Looking only at the scoring and ignoring all the misses and steals and fouls, it went like this:

  • Brittany hits a three to give Stanford its first lead of the half, 58-57.
  • Mabrey, who is like an eel wriggling through the defense to the basket, makes a layup: 58-59.
  • Bird makes one free throw to tie, then Brittany hits a jumper: 61-59.
  • Mabrey makes another layup: 61-61.
  • Notre Dame's Erin Boley hits a three: 61-64. Gloom among the red-shirts!
  • Karlie hits a three: 64-64. Red-shirts explode!
  • Alanna makes a layup: 66-64.
  • Two free throws by Ogunbowale: 66-66.
  • Two free throws by Brittany: 68-66.
  • Mabrey hits a three-pointer: 68-69.
  • Two free throws by Marta: 70-69.
  • Mabrey makes a layup: 70-71.
  • Brittany makes a layup: 72-71.
  • Two free throws by Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen: 72-73.
  • Alanna layup: 74-73.
  • Lindsay Allen jumper: 74-75.
  • Tara calls time at 0:36.
  • Alanna makes a layup: 76-75.

Now Notre Dame had the ball, down one with 25 seconds to play. Stanford had a foul to give, so Marta helped them pass some time by fouling the point guard. With three seconds left, Lindsay Allen missed a jumper, the ball went out of bounds, the refs reviewed the video and awarded the ball to Notre Dame.

Tara called a timeout. Then Muffet McGraw called a timeout. Finally, Notre Dame inbounded the ball. Ogunbowale went for a game-winning jumper, Bird blocked it, and the buzzer went off: Stanford wins!

Brittany led all scorers with 27 points (Ogunbowale had 25), including 5 of 9 three-point attempts, plus five rebounds, two blocks and four assists.

Karlie had fifteen points on 5 of 8 three-point attempts, two rebounds, one block and four assists.

Alanna had fifteen points including what proved to be the winning layup, two blocks, two steals and seven rebounds.

Bird had nine points, eleven rebounds, and two blocks including the one that preserved the win in the final second.

Bri had seven points and three assists.

Marta had just two points, but recorded three rebounds and eight assists (with zero turnovers).

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

The game highlights video from ESPN

Video clips from ESPN:

The video press conference (Notre Dame & Stanford)

And a gallery of photos by Mark Mahan SWBB Facebook.

March 25, 2017

Regional Final Eve

Graham Hays (espnW) discusses how Stanford and Notre Dame got to the Lexington Regional Final: Confident stars carry Irish, Cardinal to Elite Eight

Debbie Antonelli and Beth Mowins preview the Lexington Regional Final between Stanford and Notre Dame:

Al Lesar (South Bend Tribune) explains what Tara has to worry about: Defending Arike Ogunbowale a challenge for Stanford

Ken Kilmek (South Bend Tribune) discusses Notre Dame's revised offense: Notre Dame women's basketball set for Stanford chess game in Elite Eight

Tom FitzGerald's (San Francisco Chronicle) report of today's press conference: Irish downplay revenge factor vs. Stanford in duel for Final Four berth

Graham Hays (espnW) writes about the third matchup between two former national champions: Notre Dame, Stanford meet again with Final Four trip on the line

Here's the press conference on which some of the above stories were based:

And, finally, Road Trip - Day 10:

March 24, 2017

Cardinal grinds out a win over the Longhorns, 77-66

Stanford had a narrow lead, gave it up, fell behind, then came back against a determined, aggressive Texas team to move to an NCAA tournament game against Notre Dame for the third year running.

An announced crowd of 3,160 occupied the lower bowl of the vast Rupp Arena for the first game of the night, Notre Dame versus Ohio State. Notre Dame won that fairly easily, and a lot of red-clad Buckeye fans and green-clad Irish deserted the scene, perhaps to watch the UCLA-Kentucky men's game. Considerably fewer were present when the Cardinal tipped off against the Longhorns.

The Longhorns' defense was aggressive and physical, and the refs were in tournament mode, letting a lot of contact go unwhistled. There were more players sliding or crashing to the floor than usual. Nevertheless, the Cardinal took an early lead and were up by one at the end of the first quarter, 18-17.

During the second quarter Alanna came out looking distressed and left the floor for several minutes, leading fans to think she was ill. However she soon returned and played well in the second half. Also during that quarter Texas took a lead, and were up seven at the half, 29-36.

The third quarter opened with a remarkable series that brought Stanford back into the game. Bird got an offensive rebound which led to Karlie hitting a three and being fouled. Karlie missed the and-one, but Alanna rebounded it and Marta passed to Brittany for another three.

So the Cardinal went from down-seven to down-one in a minute's play; and the game remained close for the next several minutes. Then Karlie hit a three to give Stanford its first lead of the half, 47-45; and when Texas tied the score she hit another three to retake the lead 50-47.

After a Bird jumper, Texas called time to regroup, but it didn't help. The quarter ended with Stanford up 54-49.

They maintained a lead of four to six points through most of the fourth quarter. At one point the Longhorns had come back within three, 58-55, when Bird lobbed a pass to Brittany standing in a group of Texans for a layup.

That put the Cardinal again up by two possessions and it stayed that way until Texas began the foul parade in the final minute. Stanford made most of their free throws, so the final score looks like an easier win than it really was.

Bird had a big game against the Longhorns' tough defense, scoring 23 points on 9-14 shooting, plus twelve rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.

Karlie played all 40 minutes and had fifteen points (4 of 8 from long range) plus five assists. As noted above, her threes were critical to bringing Stanford back into the game and then keeping a lead.

Brittany had twelve points, including five of six free throws, plus three assists and a block.

Alanna shook off whatever was bothering her in the second quarter to score ten points plus seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.

Kaylee had five points and three rebounds in only eight minutes on the floor.

Bri had six points and Marta, one, while between them they held Texas sharpshooter Brooke McCarty to only eight points, well below her season average.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

The game highlights video from ESPN,

A Bird and Karlie highlights video,

The video press conference , with Tara, Bird and Karlie,

And a gallery of photos by Mark Mahan (SWBB Facebook).

Alanna v Joyner, Samuelsons, 3-point shot

Cardinal women hope to mess with Texas in NCAA hoops, by Rick Eymer (Palo Alto Online)

Texas' Joyner Holmes, Stanford's Alanna Smith ready to make impact in Sweet 16, by Graham Hays (espnW)

For the Samuelson family, it’s a Sweet 16 sister act, by John FitzGerald (San Francisco Chronicle)

For 30 years, the 3-point shot has benefited the Texas, Stanford women, by Rick Cantu (Austin American-Statesman)

March 23, 2017

The four contenders in Lexington

A third consecutive Stanford/Notre Dame tournament dance?

Possibly, according to Five Thirty Eight, which gives Stanford a 51% chance of defeating Texas and Notre Dame a 76% chance of defeating Ohio State in Lexington on Friday (however, the odds haven't been updated since it was announced that Notre Dame senior center Brianna Turner, Notre Dame's leading scorer and rebounder, is out with a torn ACL).

Here's how the four teams in the Lexington Regional match up statistically:

Stanford Texas Notre Dame Ohio State
Points per game 72.0 74.3 80.0 86.0
Scoring margin +16.5 +12.6 +18.8 +15.3
Field goal % .447 .450 .496 .455
Opponents field goal % .345 .364 .377 .372
3-pointers per game 6.1 4.0 5.9 7.8
3-point % .355 .353 .412 .349
Free throw % .692 .670 .716 .693
Rebounds per game 41.3 43.4 38.7 44.8
Rebounding margin +7.9 +10.9 +5.8 +4.9
Assists per game 15.3 13.8 18.1 16.1
Turnovers per game 13.9 15.4 14.7 13.9
Assist/turnover ratio 1.1 0.9 1.2 1.2
Steals per game 7.4 7.3 9.1 7.9
Blocks per game 5.6 5.8 4.8 6.2
Overall record 30-5 25-8 33-2 28-6
Conference record 15-2 15-3 16-0 15-1
RPI 6 13 2 27
Schedule strength 7 3 2 33

  Stanford Cardinal

Stanford women wallop Kansas State to reach Sweet 16

Strange but true: Stanford could have a shot at the Final Four

Focused on tests and Texas (video)

Season Statistics
Game Notes

  University of Texas Longhorns

Texas moves on to Sweet 16 over NC State 84-80

Four months later, Texas will take second shot at Stanford in Sweet 16

Karen Aston to coach against an icon when Texas meets VanDerveer’s Stanford

Development of Joyner Holmes culminates in re-match with Stanford

Season Statistics
Game Notes

  Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Irish Top Purdue, Advance to Eighth Straight Sweet 16

Point guard Lindsay Allen drives top-seeded Notre Dame into Sweet 16

Notre Dame women's hoops adjusts to life after Brianna Turner

Notre Dame shifts gears for Ohio St after losing Turner

Season Statistics
Game Notes

  Ohio State Buckeyes

Mitchell, Harper lead Ohio State past Kentucky and into Sweet 16

Buckeyes in better position in return to Sweet 16

Season Statistics
Game Notes

March 22, 2017

Bumps in the road

The Cardinal encountered unexpected difficulties on the road to Dallas, as Janie McCauley (AP) reports: Travel challenges just part of NCAA Tournament for Stanford

March 20, 2017

Cardinal stifles K-State Wildcats, 69-48

Almost 4,000 purple-clad Wildcat fans came to the spacious confines of Bramlage Coliseum for this game, joined by a hundred or so cardinal-wearing Stanford fans. The smaller group had more to cheer about as the Stanford defense shut down K-State's best scorers.

One thing was clear to Stanford fans almost immediately: the Wildcats were absolutely determined that Karlie Samuelson would not beat them. She barely got her hands on the ball before one and usually two defenders pounced at her. As a result it wasn't until the third quarter that Karlie attempted a shot.

When one player is so tightly defended, others have to be open. A couple of minutes into the game, Brittany drove in and made a layup. A fan was heard to say, "If they are going to let Brit operate, we're going to have a good night." And in fact Brit did operate, getting seven points and an assist in the first quarter.

The first quarter ended with Stanford up by a modest five points. In the second quarter, the wheels came off K-State's Conestoga wagon. In the first minute Brittany hit a three, then drove and missed a layup that Bird put back. With Stanford up ten, the Wildcats called a timeout. It didn't help. K-State went more long minutes with no score but free throws. At the half, Brittany had added two more threes, and with Alanna and Bird scoring, Stanford led 39-21.

In the second half Karlie got three chances to shoot and made two of them. The second of these came when the Cardinal had been passing the ball around the perimeter of the Wildcat's wide-spread two-three zone. With the clock getting short, Karlie at the top of the arc passed to Brittany at the right elbow. She bent her knees, drawing two defenders, so passed back to Karlie who was now two long steps back from the arc. Unfazed, Karlie let it fly and swished the three.

Rebounding was a major factor in the result, despite Stanford not being any taller, overall, than the Wildcats. In the final tally Stanford out-rebounded K-State by 15, 39-25, and O-boards were 12-5. That gave the Cardinal more opportunities, and Stanford made better use of them, shooting 46% versus the Wildcat's 39%.

So with a convincing win in hand, Stanford heads to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky to face Texas for the Sweet Sixteen. That's the same location where Stanford upset Notre Dame last year at this time. If they can get past Texas, they'll probably have a chance to repeat that matchup.

Brittany led all scorers with 21 points, mostly from a career-high five of seven from beyond the arc. She rounded out her stellar offense with seven rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal.

Alanna was close behind with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block.

Bird had ten points, six rebounds and a block.

Karlie had six points from making two of three shots, plus two assists and two steals.

Kaylee contributed her usual strong defense with four rebounds in twelve minutes of play and also scored five points.

Bri and Marta shared point guard duties and focused on holding K-State's leading scorer to eleven points on three of seven field goal attempts. They each dished six assists, Bri with no turnovers and Marta with four.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights videofrom Stanford Athletics,

The game highlights video from ESPN,

Another highlights video: Brittany's 21 points,

The audio press conference with Tara, Brittany and Alanna,

A gallery of photos by (David Mayes Photograph,

And photos by Orlin Wagner (Associated Press):

Brittany drives to the basket
Brittany lays up two of her 21 points
And-one for Alanna
Bird and Karlie stop K-State's tall center