December 19, 2012

Still undefeated, by the skin of their teeth!

In a highly competitive game that kept bringing the crowd of 8000 to its feet, the Cardinal managed to barely squeak past the Gamecocks to a 53-49 victory.

In a pregame interview, coach Dawn Staley said, "Because [Stanford] is the No. 1 team in the country, everybody is going to watch and see what they’re doing. I think we’re just going to be in the way."

The Fighting Gamecocks got in the way bigtime with a suffocating defense that disrupted the Cardinal offense. They clogged up the interior and closed off the perimeter — the Cardinal made just 40% of their shots, well below their 52% season average; they took only four shots from beyond the arc and made none of them. The tough defense also contributed to the Cardinal's season-high 18 turnovers, ten of them from Gamecock steals.

But the Cardinal outrebounded the Gamecocks 42-31 and out-blocked them 11-2. The Cardinal defense held the Gamecocks to just 29% shooting.

The Cardinal were ahead most of the game, mostly by just a couple of points. Their biggest lead was seven points for less than a minute in the first half.

With 1:14 left to play, the score was tied 45-45 and the Cardinal had possession. Tara called a timeout. I (and maybe the Gamecocks) expected that the ball would be in Chiney's hands, but it went to Mikaela instead, who laid it up and in for perhaps the most exciting two points of her career.

Toni began the scoring with a jumper and ended it with six free throws. In between, she kept driving through the Gamecock defenders to the basket and ended with a total of 15 points.

Chiney battled through the tough defense to a seventh consecutive double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. She also had four blocks.

Jos didn't score at all tonight, but her defense was a key factor in the Cardinal victory. She had seven blocks (matching her career high) and seven rebounds.

Amber led the Cardinal offense most of the game. She had little opportunity for assists, but contributed eleven points to the Cardinal victory.

Taylor played for eleven minutes. She didn't tally any stats, but showed no ill effects from her hard fall in the Pacific game.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The game highlights video,

And photos by Rainier Ehrhardt (Associated Press):

Toni drives to the basket
Chiney tries to get to the basket
Jos looks to pass
Mikaela hangs on for dear life
"Almost" is so disappointing

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