November 29, 2015

Gulf Coast Showcase: We are the champions!

This game was a nail-biter from end to end, and was decided by two unusual and unexpected factors.

Stanford took a quick early lead on threes by Lili and Bri. The Cardinal held a small lead through the first half, which ended at 26-21 — a low score resulting from many dry possessions by both teams that ended in turnovers and missed shots. The halftime stats were remarkable for how little difference there was between the teams: field-goal percent, turnovers, rebounds, all the usual stats were nearly identical. Basically Stanford was ahead because of the early threes.

Purdue took a brief lead at 4 minutes into the third quarter, and ended the third quarter ahead by one, 44-45. They made it 46-48 with a three at 6:16 into the fourth quarter. About this time Karlie was called for a block on which she went down hard and was slow to get up. However, she re-entered the game a few minutes later. The game was tied at 51-51 at the final media timeout with 4:07 to play.

Those last four minutes of regulation were full of action, most notably a three by Bri as the shot clock expired; Lili being fouled on a 3-point attempt and making all three free throws for a 57-53 lead; then two baskets by Purdue to tie the score at 57 all. Purdue made one more jumper to pull ahead, but fouled Bri who made two free throws to tie the game again at the 33-second mark. Purdue couldn't score and we went to overtime.

At this point we checked the stats and noted that although almost all the stats were close, there was one glaring difference. Purdue was 5 of 8 on free throws, and Stanford was 16 of 17! Stanford had gone to the line much more often and was making almost all. That difference of +11 on free throws is undoubtedly what kept Stanford in the game and allowed them to reach the OT. Now they had to win...

In the overtime, Bird grabbed a gritty rebound of a Lili miss, and Lili was fouled by Purdue's #13, Perry, a dangerous defender who now had to leave with her fifth foul. Lili made both free throws to give Stanford the lead.

After missed shots by both teams, Bri turned the ball over and Kailee fouled the Purdue player. Purdue made both of their free throws to tie the score once again.

Bird drove for the basket and was fouled and made both free throws: 63-61. On a Lili foul, Purdue made one of two free throws to make it a one-point game, 63-62 at 1:39. But on the next possession, with Stanford looking baffled and the shot clock running out, Kailee shot a three from the corner! The most unlikely player had suddenly put Stanford up by four, 66-62, with 1:00 on the clock.

The drama wasn't quite finished even then. Purdue fouled Bri who made two free throws (68-62) but then Purdue hit a three (68-65 with 40 seconds to go). But what iced the game was that on the Stanford possession, Bri was fouled shooting a three, and made all three free throws. That set the final score, 71-65.

Stanford and Purdue looked almost exactly matched, and Stanford could easily have lost the game to Purdue and been justified to call it a "quality loss". However they won the game and did so on two remarkable things: an amazing performance at the line, shooting 25 of 26 free throw attempts; and a startling last-second three-point shot by Kailee to put Purdue two possessions down late in overtime.

Bri had 26 points for her career high, including 5 of 6 three-point attempts. Bird had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Lili had 17 points tonight, averaged 20.7 points and 6.0 assists for the tournament, and was named the tournament MVP.

Here's the box score and play-by-play. Come back tomorrow for media game reports.

No comments: