January 29, 2017

Cardinal snatches victory from jaws of the dawgs

The Huskies promoted this game heavily. Their students and fans, encouraged perhaps by the thorough drubbing the Huskies had administered to Cal the Friday before, responded to create the first sellout game in the women's program's history. The old pavilion (officially "Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion" but long-time fans know better) was packed to the rafters. On the TV stream Mary Murphy commented several times on the noise level.

The opening half of the game gave those fans everything they could have wanted. Kelsey Plum wowed them by making shot after shot (late in the game she was 7-7 from beyond the arc), but other Huskies were also hitting. Late in the first quarter UW had notched three-point shots by four different players.

At that point Stanford was 0-6 from long range, and before the end of the half, they were 0-8. The first Stanford 3-point shot was made by Nadia with 26 seconds remaining in the half.

The half ended with Stanford down 12, 33-45. That was an improvement from a few minutes earlier when the Huskies were ahead by eighteen, 20-38. Over the break, Cardinal fans could only tell themselves, "At least they aren't beating us as badly as they beat Cal."

The story began to change in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Cardinal defense began to slow the Huskies, and Cardinal shots (finally!) began to fall. Bri hit a three at 4:18 to bring the Cardinal within four. Two minutes later, she hit another to bring the deficit to three, 50-53. The third quarter ended with Stanford behind by only five, 50-55.

Just into the fourth quarter, Bri hit yet another three and tied the score at 55-55. At this point, four key players had four fouls apiece: Bird, Brittany, Kelsey Plum, and Chantel Osahor. This led to cautious play and frequent substitutions by both coaches.

For several minutes the teams traded small leads back and forth. Either team might have seized the game by scoring twice in a row, but neither could.

Then, at 1:38, Bri made a layup to tie the score for the last time, 66-66. Seconds later, Brittany stole the ball and made a layup to put Stanford ahead.

The Huskies had chances in the final minute, but Plum, for the first time in the game, missed a three-point shot; and no other Husky stepped up. Cardinal players made their free-throws, and time expired on a thrilling come-from-behind win.

Brittany, despite missing all five of her three-point tries, had 17 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and three steals, including the key steal in the final minute.

Bird had 16 points and nine rebounds.

Bri had 14 points, all in the second half, and had a significant effect on the flow and momentum of the game. Although she didn't score the most points, she definitely earned the game ball tonight.

Karlie, stifled by the Husky defense, was able to take only three treys and didn't hit any of them. But she took what they gave her and scored ten points on two layups and six free throws. She also had five rebounds and four of the Cardinal's nine assists.

Marta had eight points, connecting on a layup, a three-point shot, and 3-4 free throws, as well as getting five assists to three turnovers.

This was Tara's 999th career win. The team now comes home to play four games at Maples. It's likely that the next game, against USC, will be Tara's 1000th win.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Bri, "Very happy we got the dub."

An interview of Kelsey Plum from the Seattle Times

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