Uploaded: Saturday, November 17, 2012, 12:24 AM
Stanford shocks defending national champ Baylor
|While it wasn't the national championship, beating the defending national champions sure felt good, especially when the victory ended a long winning streak.
The Stanford women's basketball team, derailed in the NCAA national semifinal last year by Baylor, sucked it up and nearly a year later put its foot to the floor and took care of business.
Chiney Ogwumike and her Stanford teammates remembered vividly the Final Four loss to Baylor in April. The Cardinal were determined not to let it happen again.
Ogwumike scored 18 points to help the fourth-ranked Cardinal end Baylor's 42-game winning streak with a 71-69 victory over the No. 1 Lady Bears on Friday night.
Stanford (3-0) did the same thing a couple of years ago to Connecticut, ending its NCAA record 90-game winning streak.
"We came in with a little bit of chip on our shoulders. We needed to play better than last time," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Playing a team like Baylor really helps you understand what you need to focus on."
The Cardinal knows this victory doesn't necessarily translate into a prized spot in the NCAA Final Four. The team does get a sense that it really can play with anybody in the country.
Ogwumike, one of several players who experienced that 12-point loss to Baylor last spring, heeded some advice she received before the game from her big sister Nneka, who graduated last spring, was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors.
"My sister told me do not be afraid to attack her," Ogwumike said. "I knew the court was open; I like to pride myself on my quickness. If we're going to do this, you're going to go all out for it."
It was just another case of one All-American doing battle with another All-American, a matchup any fan would want to see. It was as entertaining as it was fierce. Ogwumike and Griner each left their mark on the contest, and there's a good possibility of a rematch in the postseason tournament.
With Ogwumike scoring on offense and Stanford focused on Griner defensively, the Cardinal did just enough to pull off the upset.
Ogwumike was aided by Toni Kokenis, who scored 15 points, including the final point of the contest. Taylor Greenfield scored 16 points and Joslyn Tinkle added another 11 points.
Griner, doing what great players do, scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half to help the Lady Bears rally from a 14-point deficit in the first half.
A final shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim and Stanford celebrated the victory. It was the Lady Bears' first defeat since losing to Texas A&M in the regional finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament. Baylor went 40-0 last year.
Ogwumike's reverse layup gave Stanford a four-point lead with 22 seconds left, after Tinkle broke the tie with a layup with just under a minute remaining.
Destiny Williams responded with the first 3-pointer of her career to pull Baylor (1-1) within one.
Kokenis made one of two free throws. Baylor got the rebound and advanced the ball to halfcourt before calling timeout to set up the final play.
Griner caught the ball in the low block and with three players draped on her, the 6-foot-8 star's shot fell harmlessly off the rim setting off a wild celebration by the Cardinal at midcourt.
"We knew where the ball was going; it's a matter if we're able to make the play. It's hard to make a play on Griner," Ogwumike said. "You knew it was going to Griner and she was going to turn around and shoot."
Baylor remains the heavy favorite to repeat as champion with their entire starting lineup back from last season. The Lady Bears cruised to an easy 89-51 victory over No. 6 Kentucky on Tuesday before heading to Hawaii for the three-game Rainbow Wahine tournament.
The untelevised (though it was available through a webcast), afternoon game in Honolulu was played in a mostly empty Stan Sheriff Center, an arena modeled after Baylor's home floor in Waco, Texas.
Baylorplayed most of the game without preseason All-America guard Odyssey Sims, who strained her hamstring early in the first half.
VanDerveer said the Cardinal came in knowing they needed to limit Griner and play better than they did in the NCAA tournament loss.
"Our game plan was never let Brittney Griner be one on one," she said. "We were doubling her as hard as we could."
Griner was dominant in the second half, scoring 10 of Baylor's first 12 points and just under half its points for the final half. The Lady Bears gave up on 3-pointers while allowing Griner to carry them, attempting only three after ending the first half 1-for-11.
Baylor took a 55-54 lead with 7:11 left in the game on a layup from Williams. It was the Lady Bears first since early in the first half. They extended it to 4 points before Stanford rallied back behind Kokenis, who made two free throws and a jumper to tie it at 60.
The game was back and forth until the final minute when Tinkle and Ogwumike put Stanford ahead to stay.
— Palo Alto Online Sports
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