By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Amber Orrange speaks softly and plays a mean game of basketball. The freshman point guard worked her way into Stanford's starting lineup and has provided a spark defensively for the fourth-ranked Cardinal.
Orrange established season highs with nine assists, four steals and 33 minutes in helping the Stanford women's basketball team beat visiting Washington, 65-47, in a Pac-12 Conference contest Saturday afternoon.
"As time went on, I got more comfortable," Orrange whispered. "Now I'm not thinking as much and I'm just playing."
If there's one thing Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer would love to see from Orrange, it's being more selfish with the ball. After scoring 14 points in her debut against Texas at the beginning of the year, it took her the next six games just to match that total.
Orrange said she's been working on her 3-point shooting, though she also seems to pass up open looks in deference to her teammates. Otherwise, VanDerveer likes what she sees.
"Amber did a great job defensively," VanDerveer said. "I'm excited about the way she pressured their point guard."
The four steals does not do Orrange justice. Her defense led to several more of Washington's 22 turnovers, which resulted in 27 points for the Cardinal.
Orrange committed just a single turnover and she moved near the top of the conference leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio.
"Sometimes it's hard for a freshman to take a leadership role right away," Stanford senior Nnemkadi Ogwumike said. "Amber is quick and athletic and helps the offense with what we want to do. She pushes the ball and looks for the open person."
Ogwumike led Stanford (8-0, 17-1) with 17 points, eight of which came in the game's final seven minutes. Chiney Ogwumike recorded her fourth double-double in five games with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Freshman Taylor Greenfield also had a say in the proceedings. She hit three quick 3-pointers to turn a potentially tight game into a rout. She was 4 of 5 from long range overall and finished with 12 points.
"The discussion at halftime was about coming in and hitting open shots," Greenfield said. "Thankfully my shot was going today. They were too focused on Nneka and Chiney, like they should be. I tried to find the right spot at the right time. I was noticing they were flocking inside and they totally forgot about us half the time."
The Cardinal hosts California next Saturday at 2 p.m. as the conference schedule reaches its halfway point.
"Cal is having a great year," VanDerveer said. "They are an athletic, talented team. It will be a great game next week."