March 23, 2015

Cardinal stymies the Sooners

The Cardinal sent the Sooners home, but not to Oklahoma City, on the short end of 86-76.

Amber, Lili and Bri kept the game from getting out of hand in the first half against a determined Oklahoma team who seemed to make every shot they put up while Stanford's hit the rim or rolled out (it actually wasn't quite as lopsided as it seemed – Oklahoma made 47% to Stanford's 39%).

The Sooners led throughout the first half for all but a couple of minutes, but Lili began a Cardinal swing with her second 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, and the Cardinal went into the locker room down by just four, 36-32.

The score was tied 38-38 at the 15-minute media timeout, after which the Cardinal forged ahead to a 10-point lead four minutes later.

The Sooners were unable to recover and began fouling at the two-minute mark – the Cardinal's last 13 points were all free throws.

The Cardinal's quick guards were the stars today. Amber, Lili and Bri combined for 56 of the Cardinal's 86 points.

Amber led with 24 (two short of her career high), as she repeatedly tore through the Sooner's tough zone defense and attacked the basket. She added seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

Lili found success outside the zone. She went three-for-three from beyond the arc. She drew fouls on her drives to the basket and made six of eleven free throws for a total of 19 points, her best performance since late January. And she grabbed six rebounds and dished four assists.

Bri's tenacious defense made life miserable for Oklahoma's quick guards. Most of Bri's 13 points came at the free throw line, where she sank eight of nine, six of them in that perilous first half. She also had four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Bonnie was shut out for a long time, but she found her shots in the last twelve minutes of the game as the Cardinal took control — three 3-pointers, a layup and a perfect eight at the line for a total of 19 points.

Bird had a strong game in her battle with the Sooners' big front court – eleven rebounds, seven points and two blocks – and she stayed out of foul trouble.

The Sooners kept up their productive shooting the entire game and out-scored the Cardinal from the field by six points. But their aggressive play – 28 fouls – cost them dearly. The Cardinal made 79% of their free throws – 30 of 38.

Up next: Notre Dame in Oklahoma City on Friday. Tickets can be ordered now (Monday evening) from Stanford Athletics online.

In Tempe this afternoon, third-seeded ASU found a surprisingly tough opponent in 11th-seed Arkansas-Little Rock and almost became another Pac-12 casualty in the tournament. In the first half they shot under 20% and went 0-6 on 3-point attempts. The Sun Devils trailed almost the whole game, in the second half by as much as 16 points, before starting a late come-back.

With 2:09 to play, Elisha Davis banked in a 3-point shot as the shot clock expired, making the ASU deficit only 3. With less than a minute to play they took their first lead since the first seconds of the game at 52-51, on a Sophie Brunner layup. From that point ASU made key defensive rebounds and sank enough of their free throws to close the game out at 57-54 and advance to play Florida State in Greensboro, NC.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference audio with Tara, Amber, Lili and Bonnie,

A gallery of photos by Nhat V. Meyer (Bay Area News Group),

A gallery of photos from Stanford Photo,

The game highlights video,

A video interview of Amber.

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