January 26, 2008

Pringle, Larkins carry UNC to 2 OT win

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - LaToya Pringle wasn't going to let a bloody lip stop her.

The North Carolina forward took a shot in the face in the second half, requiring her to change jerseys, but came back to finish with a career-high 31 points that propelled the third-ranked Tar Heels to a 97-86 double-overtime win against No. 4 Maryland.

Twelve of Pringle's 31 came in the second overtime as she and front-court mate Erlana Larkins owned the inside against the Terps.

"They're our warriors," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I just kept telling them to go to them."

Larkins finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds, including 13 on the offensive end.

And the duo's tough inside play made it hard for the Terrapins to keep players on the floor.

Laura Harper fouled out midway through the first overtime and Jade Perry followed in the second overtime.

"As you can see from the stats, we didn't do well against them," Maryland center Crystal Langhorne said. "It was really tough without Laura and Jade."

Larkins and Pringle were efficient from the start, scoring 18 combined points on 9-for-13 shooting in the first half, which was huge in UNC going to the locker room with a 37-33 lead.

But then, Pringle took an accidental shot in the mouth from Perry and had to leave the game because of blood on her jersey -- not to mention coming out of her mouth.

Pringle, who usually wears No. 30, returned with a nameless No. 55 jersey and picked up right where she left off.

As she sat on the bench before that, though, she watched her team's narrow lead turn into a deficit.

And all she could think of was how the Tar Heels blew an 11-point lead at Connecticut in their last game, turning a potential upset of the nation's No. 1 team into a heartbreaking loss.

"After the Connecticut loss, a lot of us came to practice with a different mentality," Pringle said. "We knew we lost because we didn't compete and didn't play smart at the end."

Despite what might be considered an overall lack of experience, the Tar Heels certainly have two veterans in Pringle and Larkins, and it's hardly a coincidence that they're the ones who put the Tar Heels on their backs.

"We had to give it all we had," said Larkins, who has been playing with a broken hand.

The Tar Heels had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Rashanda McCants (who came a rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double) missed a 3-pointer and Pringle's follow shot rolled in and out.

At the end of the first overtime, it was Maryland that had the chance for a game-winning shot.

But Kristi Toliver, who finished with 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds despite a two-point first half, couldn't get a clean look for her last-second shot.

That set the stage for Pringle and Larkins to finish the job they started in the second half and provide the Tar Heels with a win they definitely needed to build confidence coming off the UConn loss.

"Those two," Hatchell said, "I just don't want to let them graduate."

Player of the Game:
This one is easy. As imporessive as Larkins' numbers were, Pringle was an absolute game-changer for the Tar Heels when she was on the floor. While she was being treated for the facial injury, the Heels looked listless on the boards. When she was back out there, UNC was a different team. Reliable at the line and tough on the glass, Pringle was the difference for North Carolina.

Play of the Game:
You don't usually see forwards running the break, but in the second half, Larkins did just that and dished to Pringle, who got the layup and the foul. Her free throw tied the game at 71 with 46.5 seconds to go.

Quote of the Game:
"Obviously, it's a little rare, but I don't know that we were tired in the second overtime. I thought our energy was good. You just hope you're not going to have to play every game for 50 minutes."
-Maryland assistant coach Daron Park, on playing back-to-back double-overtime games.

Up Next:
For Maryland: The Terps head home to host a below-.500 Miami team on Thursday.

For UNC: The Tar Heels hit the road but don't have to go far, traveling down I-40 to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest.

UNC wins double-OT thriller

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - It took longer than they would have hoped, but the Tar Heels got the big win they needed against ACC foe Maryland. Finally wearing down the Terps in overtime and depleting their frontcourt, North Carolina came away with a 97-86 win in double overtime.

LaToya Pringle had a huge rebound and layup with 1:50 to go to put UNC up 87-82. After a Maryland score, the Heels got the ball again and ran most of the shot clock before an Erlana Larkins layup made it 89-84 with 1:05 to go. Two more Pringle free throws forced the Terps to start fouling and sealed the game.

Second overtime coming in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Hey, everyone have fun in overtime? Great, let's play another. Kristi Tolliver couldn't get a contested jumper anywhere near the basket following a possession where UNC tied the game on a Rashanda McCants layup after Cetera DeGraffenreid came up with a loose ball. So we're on to overtime No. 2 tied at 79.

No separation in overtime

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - We've got less than two minutes to go in the extra period, and we're still going back and forth. Laura Harper just fouled out for the Terps, and LaToya Pringle is at the line to try to give UNC the lead back. This might come down to the last possession.

Terps, Heels going to OT

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - You usually don't see a center running the break, but Erlana Larkins did it for Carolina. Larkins led broke out and dished to fellow frontliner LaToya Pringle, who got the layup and the foul. Her free throw tied the game at 71 with 46.5 seconds to go. At the other end, UNC's Jessica Breland swatted Marissa Coleman and the Tar Heels had the ball with 18.3 seconds on the clock.

But Rashanda McCants missed a three and Pringle's follow rolled out, so we're headed for some bonus basketball.

UNC, Maryland tied with under five to go

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Carolina retook the lead on a Cetera DeGraffenreid baseline jumper, but the thrill for the fans was shortlived as Kristi Toliver finally found her shooting stroke and buried a 3-pointer to put Maryland up 64-62. Still, the Tar Heels weren't done going inside. Erlana Larkins got a rebound and drew a foul -- the fourth on Laura Harper -- hitting both free throws to tie the game. Everything's pointing to a great finish here.

Heels cut into Maryland lead

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The crowd is getting fired up here as the Tar Heels try to overcome the hole they dug themselves against the Terrapins. After the TV timeout, Erlana Larkins will be heading to the line for UNC, which trails 61-59. Suddenly it's Carolina that's being aggressive on the glass, playing their way back into the game with offensive rebounds and the odd 3-pointer.

Pringle changes jerseys

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Fans here might have noticed something different about LaToya Pringle when she returned to the game after several minutes on the bench. Instead of wearing her usual No. 30 jersey, Pringle is clad in No. 55 now after getting blood on the jersey she started the game with.

The Tar Heels could certainly use her help. Maryland is torching them on the glass right now and holding a 57-50 edge.

Maryland on a roll inside

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Terrapins are on a crazy roll of and-ones, much to the chagrin of the Carmichael Auditorium crowd. Ever since Laura Harper's rebound and make, the Terps have gotten strong inside and the Tar Heels haven't been able to stop them. As such, Maryland has gone from not being able to take a lead to going up 52-46 on Carolina with 12:49 to go.

Terps take first lead

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Maryland coach Brenda Frese probably likes what she's seeing right now watching TV back in College Park. Laura Harper just got a layup and drew a foul (she missed the free throw) to give Maryland its first lead of the game, 46-44 less than six minutes into the second half.

Langhorne picks up third foul

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The good news for Maryland is that the UNC lead is only one point, but the bad news is that there are now three fouls on center Crystal Langhorne. Having her available will be crucial for the Terps if they want to stop the Tar Heels from scoring inside. That's been Carolina's strength in this game so far and could be a way for them to try to reestablish a lead with Langhorne on the bench.

Coleman leads Terps run before half

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Maryland's Marissa Coleman had quite an exciting end to the first half, scoring seven straight points from the Terps, including a 3-pointer after which she jawed a bit at the Carmichael Auditorium crowd. That helped the Terrapins tie the game at 33 before the Tar Heels responded and went to the locker room with a 37-33 lead.

Carolina enjoyed most of its success inside, scoring 12 of its 17 field goals in the paint. Erlana Larkins and LaToya Pringle combined to shoot 9 for 13 for 18 points. Coleman's 13 points lead the Terps.

This time refs draw Hatchell's ire

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - If Sylvia Hatchell was mad at her team before, she looked even more angry with the officials after a blocking call against the Tar Heels. Hatchell came about as close as you can to a technical foul without actually getting one, ranting and gesticulating wildly up and down her bench while barking at the official who made the call. She's probably also not that happy with the fact that her team followed that with a bad shot and sent Crystal Langhorne to the line at the other end, where she will try to cut into Carolina's 31-24 lead so the Terps can make a push in the final 3:40 of the first half.

Hatchell is unhappy

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell just called timeout and was screaming at her team before it even hit the sidelines. She's got good reason, too. The Tar Heels are being careless with the basketball and having trouble defending the Terps, who have cut the Carolina lead to three with eight minutes to go in the half.

Tar Heels build on lead

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - So far things are going according to plan for North Carolina, which has led by 10 twice and now holds a 20-12 lead over Maryland with 11 minutes to go in the first half. Were it not for some turnovers -- always a problem for the Tar Heels -- their advantage could be even bigger.

UNC doing work inside vs. Terps

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - While North Carolina has been forcing Maryland turnovers early, it's not the Heels' transition game that's getting it done for them offensively. Before a Rashanda McCants 3-pointer that made it 11-3, Carolina was scoring with a heavy dose of power in the paint from LaToya Pringle and Erlana Larkins.

And whenever Larkins draws a double-team it leaves someone else open for UNC, which has taken advantage of that well on the way to a 13-5 lead six minutes into the game.

Maryland, Carolina in ACC showdown

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - After traveling to Connecticut to take on the nation's No. 1 team, North Carolina gets a break, right? Nope. The No. 3/4 Tar Heels merely get another top-five matchup, hosting No. 4/3 Maryland at Carmichael Auditorium.

Neither of these squads has lost in conference play, though the teams' combined three losses (two of which are UNC's) have come against top-five competition. The Terps don't have head coach Brenda Frese with them, who is pregnant and only coaching home games at the moment, but this should still be quite a showdown.

The Terps are looking to extend their 12-game winning streak, while the Tar Heels are hoping some home cooking will help them bounce back from the loss to UConn.

January 21, 2008

Wow! UConn Is Really Good

STORRS, Conn. - For Connecticut, this game started when only 20 of 40 minutes remained.

The No. 1 team in the land stayed that way with an incredible come-from-behind, 82-71, victory in front of 10,167 screaming fans at Gampel Pavilion.

A come-from-behind victory when they beat No. 3 North Carolina by 11? Explain...I was going to.

Coincidentally, the Tar Heels were up by that same 11-point margin at halftime, absolutely wiping the floor with the Huskies in the first half, only to shy away from their increased intensity in the second stanza.

"I want to congratulate Connecticut, especially in the second half," said UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell. "They came out with a much different intensity level then in the first half. It became a very physical game and we didn't match that level.

"I didn't want us to relax because at the beginning of the game we made some shots that gave us a false sense of security. I knew in the second half Connecticut would come out very intense. They did that and were very aggressive and very physical and I think we let it bother us a little bit and we don't usually do that."

Connecticut wasn't the No. 1 team in the nation in the first half, but give them a little break. They have lost three major contributing players to injury in Brittany Hunter, Kalana Greene and Mel Thomas. And senior forward Charde Houston has been terrible this year, something that has stumped coach Geno Auriemma to no end.

Well, tonight's second half put all those issues to bed...and hard.

It all starts with Charde Houston.

Yes, junior point guard Renee Montgomery looked great the two-guard slot and scored a game-high 26 points while hitting six threes. Yes, sophomore center Tina Charles had a monster game on the boards with 19 to go with 15 points. Yes, freshman Maya Moore had another one of her usual games, scoring 19 points. But it was Houston who answered the biggest call in the second half.

Houston, averaging well under double figures scoring this season after dropping over 12 a game last year, only managed two first-half points and looked like she was on her way to another disappointing effort.

That's when Mel Thomas got into her head.

That's right, the injured Thomas, leg up in a cast on the bench, is directly responsible for what Auriemma hopes is, "the start of something," in regards to the reemergence of his senior forward.

"Having Mel on the bench with her leg up elevated, yelling at me and to tell me to, 'get out there and play like you can play,' that really touches your heart. And just knowing we lost three starters, that's something that I hold very dear to me. I wanted nothing more than for me to go out and produce in the second half."

Houston produced to the tune of 13 second-half points, 15 for the game, and most came when the Huskies were making their decisive run to come back from their halftime deficit and ultimately take the lead for the first time with 15:14 left in the game, 48-47.

"We know she has the capability to do it so once she got going I was like, 'uh oh, this is trouble for them,' because once she gets going, she is hard to stop," Montgomery said of her three-year teammate Houston.

The Huskies met a very fast North Carolina team and in the second half were even faster. For that, Connecticut should give a lot of credit to freshman Lorin Dixon.

Dixon may have only finished with two points, two assists and four rebounds on 0-for-4 shooting, but she made Montgomery's transition to the two-guard slot flawless. She handled the point duties beautifully and made sure the Huskies were able to handle the UNC pressure all second half.

If a player could score two points and be considered an MVP, Dixon would be it. And it's kind of scary, actually, because without Greene and Thomas, this UConn team looked possibly even better than ever before.

For North Carolina (17-2), forward LaToya Pringle led the way with 20 points and forward Jessica Breland had 12. The Heels committed way too many turnovers (23) and were outrebounded by UConn, 51-46.

The most glaring weakness for Carolina is learning how to keep a lead when they get one.

"We need to execute better down the stretch and compete when other teams go on runs," said Pringle. "I think a lot of our team put our heads down when they eventually took the lead. We need to learn that basketball is a game of runs and when your opponent makes a run, you have to respond."

Hatchell's bunch ran into two different UConn teams, one at the most opportune time and one at the most unfortunate of times. Because in the first half Connecticut needed to find their rhythem to make up for their injured starters, and in the second, after finding it, they morphed back into the best team in America. If not better than that.

Player Of The Game: Charde Houston, Connecticut
Houston was superb in the second half. The senior has been dismal this season after having a very solid junior campaign and coach Auriemma could not understand why for the life of him.

Well, if this game means anything, then perhaps Houston found the motivation to break out of her slump. She scored two first-half points and blew up for 13 more in the second. And more importantly, the points all came at the most opportune time for Connecticut, who was in the midst of a comeback attempt.

"I thought in the second half Charde was in complete control of her emotions and her game at both ends of the floor," Auriemma said. "She has allowed it to get away, whether it is the next game or two games later, she allows it to disappear. Now she will be able to capture it and hold onto it for the rest of the season, that would be my wish for Charde."

Play Of The Game:
Here was the sequence that I consider to be the most important of the game for Connecticut. Of course, coming back from the 11-point halftime deficit is key, but this sequence shows UConn's class.

North Carolina regained the lead and with 5:29 left led 69-65 after two RaShanda McCants free throws.

Tina Charles would then send a UNC shot flying back with authority that was quickly followed by a Maya Moore steal and a Houston lay up in transition to pull within two.

North Carolina would give up the ball again and on the next Connecticut possession Renee Montgomery hit the biggest shot of the night, a straightaway three pointer to give the Huskies the lead, 70-69. It was a lead that they would never relinquish.

Quote Of The Game:
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell on absolutely nothing to do with tonight's game:
"It would be a great game between the two of them. It's a shame they are not playing each other this year."

That was Hatchell comparing Tennessee and Connecticut having now played both teams on the season. See, even the UNC coach wishes we could see the two top teams meet. Come on Pat!

Up Next:
For UConn: The No. 1 team in all the land ventures away from the friendly confines of Gampel and the state of Connecticut when they meet Notre Dame on Jan. 27.

For UNC: Life won't get any easier for North Carolina as they will have to bounce back quickly from this loss. Up next for the Heels is a very dangerous prospect when they return home to Carmichael for a game against conference rival No. 4 Maryland.

UConn Is Still The One

STORRS, Conn. - It's all over here in Storrs and Connecticut did the job. They came all the way back from an 11-point halftime deficit to stun the No. 3 Tar Heels, 82-71.

Junior guard Renee Montgomery looked like the star in the stat sheet, and deservedly so, scoring 26 points and hitting six huge threes, but the real star tonight for Connecticut was Charde Houston.

Houston may have only scored 15 points, but 13 of them came in the decisive second half when Connecticut made the run that would ultimately win them the game.

The emergence of Houston has got to make coach Geno Auriemma happy, as he's been waiting all season for Houston to break out of her funk.

More to come with postgame quotes in a short time...

No. 1 stays No. 1 for now...

Oh Yeah, UConn and UNC

STORRS, Conn. - This is what I'm talking about.

If you have to drive three hours to Storrs, this is the kind of game you hope for.

The score is 74-71 Connecticut with three minutes remaining and it is pandemonium here.

With each basket, each foul and non foul, each bad call and each good call the crowd and the benches are on their feet. This is good basketball, I don't care who you are.

If the Huskies end up pulling this one out, expect coach Geno Auriemma to have a big hug for senior Charde Houston, who just picked up her fourth foul but has 10 second-half points and has been huge in Connecticut's resurgence in this game.

The UConn defense, especially inside, this half has been phenomenal. But again, this one 'aint over just yet.

Heading Home

STORRS, Conn. - We're headed for the home stretch with the Huskies holding a four-point advantage.

Charde Houston has been the story of the second half for Connecticut, with eight points in the half and 10 for the game, the senior has helped her team not only come back from an 11-point deficit, but take a solid lead.

Renee Montgomery as well has been spectacular in the second half, visibly taking over as she realizes her team needs her to step up.

North Carolina, on the other hand, has looked shaky in the second frame. They aren't playing with the same intensity and they are getting lost and duped into taking tough shots.

They were getting the ball inside much more often in the first half and will have to go back to that strategy in order to free up their long-range shooters.

This game certainly hasn't been given to Connecticut, as coach Sylvia Hatchell has some aces still left up her sleeve.

Houston In Connecticut

STORRS, Conn. - Where has she been?

Charde Houston has been all but invisible this season for the Huskies. She is being seen - and heard - now.

The senior has scored UConn's last six points and has eight on the night and UConn has opened up a 57-53 lead with under 12 minutes remaining.

After another Maya Moore bucket, it's now 59-53. Carolina looks lost after having such a dominant opening half.

Fast And Fun

STORRS, Conn. - Is this the UConn-UNC game, or the Giants-Packers?

It's fast-paced action here at Gampel Pavilion, but not just fast-paced. It's rough, too.

Whatever Geno told his team at halftime, it's working. The Huskies, by way of Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery, have taken their first lead of the game and are currently tied, 51-all, with 12:54 to go.

The crowd is rocking, it's No. 1 vs. No. 3. It was never going to be a blowout, but how could you expect it would be this good?

Oh Renee

STORRS, Conn. - There is a good game brewing in Storrs.

Sloppy play from North Carolina to start the second half has allowed Connecticut - did you expect anything else? - to come back into this game and with just under 17 minutes remaining the Huskies have made it a four-point game at 47-43.

Lorin Dixon has been playing a lot of the point for the Huskies in Thomas' absence, allowing Renee Montgomery to move freely without the ball and get open for shots. Montgomery is making this strategy look good with a game-high 14 points.

Tar Heels Need More Of The Same

STORRS, Conn. -

We are at halftime at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs and the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels hold an 11-point 44-33 advantage.

Maybe Connecticut misses Mel Thomas more than some think. The senior is out for the season, along with Kalana Greene, with a torn ACL and the Huskies are feeling the affects.

For North Carolina, Latoya Pringle and junior guard Heather Claytor have 10 points apiece and UConn is led by junior point guard Renee Montgomery, who has 12.

The Huskies will need more of Montgomery and a lot more of Maya Moore, who has nine, if they hope to come back and pull this one out.

The second half should be a doozy and I'm just glad to be here for it.

Right now, the Tar Heels are proving that they are a better team than I have given them credit for and a worthy opponent for Maryland in the ACC.

The Huskies are obviously hurting because of their injuries, but if coach Geno Auriemma can find a way to get them on the same page at the half, this will be a different game.

January 20, 2008

For Sooners, a matter of time

NORMAN, Okla. - The good news for Sherri Coale's Sooners is it's all a matter of time. The bad news is Texas Tech visits Wednesday, followed by Georgia. And if Kansas offers a break, Texas, waiting at the Drum, is right around the corner.

The Big 12 is a tough place to grow up fast.

It helps when maybe the best player in the conference plays for you. Yet, as Baylor proved Sunday afternoon, having maybe the second best player in the conference, a senior, playing the point, surrounded by juniors, is a pretty good recipe, too.

"Tisdale just completely managed the game today," Coale said of Angela, Baylor's senior point guard, who entered with a career high 24 points to her name and exited with 35. "(She) just took it over the game and took it where she wanted it to go."

She took it to Baylor 84, OU 73.

Likely, after six straight losses to the her crimson and cream rival, Tisdale would have taken any win at all. Instead, she took home one that appeared emphatic, even if the difference was really quite narrow.

Because the Sooners were right there.

They were right there, trailing by a bucket, with the sellout whiteout crowd going crazy after freshman Danielle Robinson hit a transition layup to bring OU within 70-68 with 3:40 to play.

Only it was OU's last hurrah.

Tisdale followed with her biggest shot of the night, a leaning banker from 12 feet on the left side that shut the crowd up. (In such a zone, she said "I don’t remember the crowd, but I remember the shot.")

After Ashley Paris hit one of two free throws to keep the Sooners within a possession with 3:01 to play, OU didn’t score again until 19 seconds remained. It was another Robinson layup … that brought the Sooners within 80-71.

In the biggest game of the conference season, at the most important time in the game, OU came up empty on four straight possessions. Baylor’s lead ballooned from three to 11 points and it was over.

Two very good teams and a great crowd made for an electric atmosphere. Yet OU's struggles down the stretch, the kind unexpected from such a highly-ranked team (but, perhaps, predictable from such a young team), made for no drama, no mystery and no excitement as the clock ticked down to zero.

“It's always a great game," said Courtney Paris of the rivalry, after scoring a season high 28 points to go with 13 rebounds for her 76th consecutive double-double. "And we just kind of let it go there in the second half."

The Sooners did not commit a ton of turnovers, like they have in the past against the Bears only to win, anyway. Instead, the giveaways were capped at 13, a co-season low. However, nor could OU come up with the big stop or the big basket when nothing else would do, not to mention Paris' continued struggles at the free-throw line (6 of 11) which could have been the difference between beginning the last 3 minutes even rather than down three.

The unguarded tosses aside, it’s all a sign of youth. As is OU's sudden lack of depth. What coming into the season appeared to be four returning starters, three freshman who would play and two bench players ready to step into major roles has become four returning starters, Danielle Robinson and 9 minutes for Nyeshia Stevenson, 7 for Carlee Roethlisberger.

"I just thought we played as hard as we could," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said, stretching out the words a little for emphasis.

That had been the Sooners' secret. It had allowed them to overcome turnovers, allowed them to hang close until somebody took over, allowed them, a couple of times, to flat steamroll the Bears.

Perhaps it was there Sunday, too.

Maybe it held the OU up, offering a chance as the buzzer neared.

Only this time, nobody came through. No bench hero, no role-playing starter, not the reigning player of the year, though she’d done enough already.

If so many weren't so green, somebody might well have.

It’s just a matter of time.

Who knows how long?

As tough as it gets

TEMPE, Ariz -- ASU football coach Dennis Erickson called this game before it even started when he told me that this was going to be a tough one.

Coach Erickson may know football, but it was his pre-game prediction of the 60-56 No. 7 Stanford (16-3, 6-2 Pac-10) victory over No. 25 ASU (11-7, 5-2 Pac-10) that is making him also look like his knows his women's college basketball.

"This is a tough place to play and coming in," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "I thought they had an enthusiastic crowd, they played hard, got us down, did things they really haven’t done since Charli has been here and we really struggled in the first half with finding the right shots we wanted."

It was the early minutes of the game where each team traded baskets which forshadowed a close game. Yet even after ASU jumped out to an eight point lead with 9:01 left in the first half, the Cardinal kept fighting back. ASU refused to let its lead slip away and even jumped out to as much as 14-points on Stanford, but it was a three-pointer by Stanford's JJ Hones with 1:06 in the half that was the beginning of Stanford getting the game back under control.

The first half was controlled by ASU, but it was the second half which would see Stanford take control of the game. The Cardinal took a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half and then ultimately took the lead with 8:09 left to play.

"The run at the beginning of the second half gave us the confidence and maybe shook their confidence," said VanDerveer. "We got right back in it immediately in the second half and then we were right there. We just battled point-by-point. I thought we did some nice things, got some good shots and made some hustle."

However the Cardinal could only see their lead grow to as much as six points as ASU never gave up on trying to not be swept at home this weekend. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, it was the Cardinal who gave them a devil of a time by holding onto the lead until it was solidified with a pair of freethrows by Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen with six-tenths of a second left on the clock.

"That's kind of the story of this team right now -- finishing things and staying with things consistently through the course of an entire basketball teams," said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne, whose team has not been swept at home during Pac-10 play since the 2002-03 season against the Bay Area schools. "We can get away with some teams in playing 30 minutes or so, but obviously with a team like Stanford, it has to be 40 minutes. You have to finish out the game and keep your aggressiveness. Our goal was to stay energized and aggressive, and we didn't do that."

Statistical leaders for Stanford included Candice Wiggins with 18 points, Jayne Appel with 16 points and Kayla Pedersen with 12 points. Appel and Pedersen co-led the Cardinal with eight rebounds each.

ASU was paced by Briann January's 20 points and Kayli Murphy's 12 rebounds.

Stanford will next host No. 8/9 California on January 26 in what could be a preview of the Pac-10 tournament final while ASU travels up to face the Washington schools next weekend.

That's it for the Pac-10 blogapalooza this weekend!

Make the freebies!

TEMPE, Ariz -- Of all my pet peeves in women's basketball, ASU's Dymond Simon just illustrated one of them -- missing the free throw.

Yes, you've worked so hard to draw and get the foul called against the other team, so once you get to the free throw line, please make your shots! Instead, Simon missed the first of two and with Stanford widening its lead, this is not the time to miss those free shots.

Stay tuned...it's crunch time!

Stanford 53
ASU 47

Time: 1:29

Cold as ice

TEMPE, Ariz -- Stanford's Wiggins won the battle of 'ice vs. ace' last month when Stanford played Tennessee, but right now, she is shooting cold as ice in this game.

Wiggins is shooting a dismal 4-for-14 from the field and 2-for-7 from three-point land for the game.

Burr...

Stay tuned...

Stanford 47
ASU 42

Time: 3:55

Oh Noe You Don't!

TEMPE, Ariz -- ASU's Jill Noe (pronounced no) just drove the lane into Stanford's trees and was quickly shown to a seat on the floor.

After trading baskets, Stanford is enjoying the lead for the moment, 43-40.

Stay tuned...

Time: 6:59

It's all about the knees

TEMPE, Ariz -- ASU is currently up by four points during our time out and with so many ACL injuries in women's college basketball this season, it's about time to start a knee brace or taped knee count.

In this game ASU has 1 taped player (January) and two braces (Dymond Simon and Sybil Dosty) while Stanford is 0-2 in the count.

Since starting this entry Stanford has chopped-up ASU's lead and taking over with a slight edge.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 39
ASU 38

Time: 9:12

Running down a lead

TEMPE, Ariz -- It's the first time out of the second half and Stanford has come out with guns blazing.

The Cardinal are on a 7-0 run here in the first three minutes of the half and just warming up.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 27
ASU 31

Time: 17:00

Beware the Bears

NORMAN, Okla. - The most disappointing thing for Oklahoma has to be that when it really, really, really mattered, the Sooners continued to come up empty. And for Baylor, after six straight losses to their crimson and cream rivals? The best part, winning aside, has to be that there was nothing flukey about it. Baylor was the better team. On this day, at least. And it coldn't have been more clear.

Courtney Paris finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds for OU. Angela Tisdale, who might be the best guard in the conference — take that A&M backcourt — finished with 35 points, 11 more than her previous career high.

What has always been an issue for Oklahoma wasn't. Sherri Coale will take 13 turnovers for the rest of her days. But the Sooners were poor from the field, about 36 percent, and worse from beyond the arc, hitting just 1 of 8. And, the biggest thing, they lost at home.

It seems like forever since the last time that happened.

If there's a theme to OU's season thus far, it's not unlike last season.

The Sooners play there very best on rare occasion and that's not going to cut it in this conference. Not at Oklahoma State, not against Baylor at home, not at A&M, maybe not at Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas.

There is also a sense that this Sooner has tons of room to grow.

For OU's sake, it better.

Baylor, especially if Tisdale plays like she played today, is already there.

What a yo-yo!

TEMPE, Ariz -- We are at halftime here in Tempe and ASU is holding on to a solid 11-point lead.

ASU is being led by Sybil Dosty who is working hard down low for every one of her eight points while Kayli Murphy is ASU's defensive specialist from the first half with her 10 total rebounds, seven of which are on the defensive end.

Stanford is currently being paced by Jayne Appel who is also battling it out down low to get her eight points.

For our halftime entertainment we have synchronized and choreographed yo-yo throwers of Allyoyo.com. It must be the heat of the Arizona sun that helps such a group exist.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 20
ASU 31

Stretch run

NORMAN, Okla - Not so fast, Baylor.

Well, you knew Oklahoma would have a last run. And it began when Baylor led 80-63. Now, Ashley Paris is at the line trying to make it a two-point game. The Sooners may lose this game and if they do they will have lost on a day they may not have shot well, but played pretty well. That means Baylor is really, really good. Now for the last 3:01 ...

Bad Karma Boyko?

TEMPE, Ariz -- ASU's Briann January just took down Stanford's Candice Wiggins to the ground on an out-of-control layup. Everyone gasped, either in fear of one of the players being injured or to see how Wiggins would react. Instead, Wiggins quickly jumped up to her feet and moved away from January laying on the floor. While Wiggins was being surrounded by her teammates Hays raised an eyebrow in my direction.

Before the game I was telling Hays the story about the incident at the end of the UCLA at USC women's game yesterday when it was determined that if another altercation breaks out in today's game, I may be the bearer of bad karma in a game.

Yeah, I may have a few women's basketball sports information directors not allow me to cover the games if I go 2-for-2 this weekend in altercations.

ASU is on a high as they have extended their lead to 11 in this heated battle.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 17
ASU 28

Time: 1:38

Here comes Baylor

NORMAN, Okla. - If there were 18 minutes remaining, we'd say they're trading baskets. Only there's about 8 minutes to play and they're not.

A tight game throughout, OU has the ball coming out of a timeout down 66-59. It is getting REALLY tight. We're getting down the point where the Sooners can't afford any more empty possessions. Nor can they afford to lose Angela Tisdale on the offensive end. Courtney Paris has been a bull, but Tisdale may be playing the best game right now.

Get rid of the lid

TEMPE, Ariz -- My title may be what is going through the mind of the Stanford players right now.

The Cardinal are shooting a sad 20% from the field while ASU is lighting up the scoreboard with its 44% shooting.

Yes, Stanford is taking some bad shots, but there have been more than a few shots that have gone in and out of the basket.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 11
ASU 17

Time: 7:27

Here come the Sooners?

NORMAN, Okla. - For a moment, it looked like Baylor might be pulling away, taking a five-point lead, 54-49, with about 13 minutes to play. However ...

That was a long time ago.

That was before Courtney Paris earned six free-throw tires (she hit three), and reserve guard Nyeshia Stevenson made a steal, led the break herself and nailed a 10-foot jumper just inside the free-throw line. With 12:17 remaining, Kim Mulkey, on the Baylor bench, couldn't wait for the media timout. Still, the Sooners little flurry was only good for a tie game. And, just now, Angela Tisdale have given Baylor back the lead. And so it goes.

The Yellow Submarine Strikes First

TEMPE, Ariz -- The Beatles are one of my favorite bands of all time and with the sea of ASU yellow in the crowd, I am reminded of a certain song by the Beatles that shares this color.

It early in the game and if these two teams can keep up their intensity for next 35 minutes, this may be another game this weekend that will come down to the wire.

After trading missed opening shots, ASU got on the board first and is currently holding a slight edge over Stanford.

Stanford has opted for a man defense in the opening minutes while ASU is in a 3-2 zone.

ASU just did its first mass substitution to keep fresh legs on the floor and we are at a time out.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 6
ASU 10

A showcase

NORMAN, Okla. - Here's what's becoming more and more clear.

Both teams are raising each other's game.

OU came out of the half and got a layup and short jumper from Danielle Robinson and a short jumper from Courtney Paris. Baylor comes down and nails three straight from the outside without hardly moving the net.

It's 48-47 Baylor.

15:28 to play.

It's good.

Nothing decided

NORMAN, Okla. - Well, it's halftime. And nobody has any idea who's going to win today's game.

If anybody has the momentum, it's the home team. The Sooners scored the last bucket of the half and didn't allow a shot even after Baylor called timeout to set up a play as the first-half clock ran out.

Courtney Paris continues to lead the Sooners with 16 points and six rebounds. Meanwhile, Rachel Allison has gone for 13 in the first 20 minutes and Angela Tisdale has 12.

The Sooners only have five turnovers which is amazing. Two years ago they beat Baylor at the Big 12 title game despite 32 turnovers.

Oh, almost forgot.

The score?

38-38.

Supporting The Sun Devils

TEMPE, Ariz -- We still have a few minutes before starting here in the Wells Fargo Arena and while walking back from the press room with and savoring my last bites of pizza, I see ASU football coach Dennis Erickson walking down the ramp towards the court.

Yup, the Pac-10 Football Coach of the Year is on hand to support one of the other ASU teams.

Before he took his seat here is what Erickson told me of his impression of today's match-up:

"This is going to be a tough one."

Stay tuned...

Where's the spirit?

NORMAN, Okla. - As far as I can tell there are three people at Lloyd Noble Center with a rooting interest for Oklahoma not wearing their provided T-shirt for today's whiteout.

They are Lt. Governor Jeri Askins, university president, former U.S. Sentator and governor of Oklahoma David Boren and his wife Molly Boren.

Come on guys!

Paris is burning

NORMAN, Okla. - With 7:48 to play in the first half, Courtney Paris has 12 points and six rebounds.

She should have 14 and six, but her last little putback attempt bounced off the back iron. Still, you have to understand, this is, thus far, her biggest game in ages. Only twice all season has she scored even 22 points after averaging almost 26 last season.

Paris has said the Sooners have more options this season and her numbers don't reflect her struggling. Coach Sherri Coale has concurred, but also added that there are times the Piedmont, Calif. junior has to be the go-to girl, like the other day against Oklahoma State when OU lost by 19 and Paris scored only 15. Perhaps her day was coming. Perhaps it is today.

Battle of the big girls?

NORMAN, Okla. - Coming out of the second media timeout, there are two big forces to today's game.

And Courtney Paris just became a bigger force with maybe the first hook shot of her time in Norman. She has 12 points thus far, and Baylor's Rachel Allison has 11. With that kind of production inside, it might very well come down to which supporting cast offers the most support.

Whatever the case, today's winner is women's basketball as long as the game remains tight and well played. So far, so good. It's 23-23 with 9:40 to the half.

Not bad at all

NORMAN, Okla. - For women's basketball, it can't get much better than this.

Finding an empty seat is a chore. It's another whiteout at Lloyd Noble Center, meaning white OU T-shirts were left on every seat in the building and, but for a few tens of Baylor fans, everybody's weating their T-shirt.

At the first timeout on the court, Oklahoma leads 12-11. But here's the fun part, at least for the Sooner Nation: Courtney Paris already has eight points.

Beyond that, the teams are going back and forth. Really, this is getting food. It's fun.

Welcome to Norman

NORMAN, Okla. - Greetings from Lloyd Noble Center, where No. 6 Baylor and No. 11 Oklahoma meet in a huge Big 12 contest, perhaps a little more huge to the Sooners than the Bears, if only because OU must hold serve on its own court.

Baylor's only loss is to Stanford, and the Bears' schedule is a tad spotty. Nonetheless, here they are at 15-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

The Sooners may still be feeling a little stung from their 82-63 setback two games ago at Oklahoma State, though an 80-72 victory over Nebraska was a step in the right direction.

OU also has the advantage of having won six straight games from the Bears, three each of the last two seasons. On the other hand, the has to be motivational fodder for the Bears.

Courtney Paris continues to lead the Sooners, yet is well off her points per game production of last season, averaging 15.9 points and 16 rebounds coming into today's game.

Angela Tisdale is the players who makes the Bears go, at 14.3 points per outing, but Baylor is also very balanced, with Rachel Allison (13.6), Jhasmin Player (12.8) and Danielle Wilson (12.0), each averaging more than 10 points per game.

The Sooners' second fiddle could be one of a number of players. Many times it's been freshman Danielle Robinson (13.4 ppg. 2.4 spg, 4.2 apg). Perhaps the nation will get to know her today.

Of Sun Devils and Trees

TEMPE, Ariz -- It's a blogapalooza for Pac-10 women's basketball this weekend as we are llive from downtown Tempe for No. 7/6 Stanford visiting No. 25 ASU.

This was supposed to be one of the biggest match-ups of the year in Pac-10 women's basketball, but with Stanford having dropped two Pac-10 games while in Los Angeles two weeks ago and ASU having a rough time during the preseason, both teams still have a lot of questions surrounding them.

Stanford is coming off a Thrusday night 89-64 blowout of Arizona in Tucson and looking to make it two weeks in a row of sweeping their opponents. In their last game the Cardinal were led by Arizona native and freshman Kayla Pedersen with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds. Sophomore Jayne Appel recorded her fifth double-double of the season with her 16 points and 11 rebounds. In total there were five Stanford players who finished with double-doubles (senior Candice Wiggings, sophomore JJ Hones and junior Morgan Clyburn rounded out the five) and the team finished with a season-high 60.7% shooting.

Yet with all of the momentum the Cardinal have coming in today, the Sun Devils are hoping to pick-up another Pac-10 win after losing to visiting Cal, 51-64, on Thursday. In addition, it was a year ago when these two teams duked it out through overtime only to see Stanford come out on top, 73-65.

ASU is being paced by junior transfer Lauren Lacey's 12.6 ppg and 6.4 rpg and junior Briann January's 11.8 ppg. The real key for the Sun Devils is how long it will take for them to find their identity for this season. The Sun Devils entered this season with lots of momentum after finishing in the Elite Eight -- the program's best finish in its history -- but not enjoying the same kind of success. ASU finished the preseason with a 6-5 record and has dropped to the bottom of the top 25 after being ranked No. 12 in the preseason Women's Basketball Coaches Association poll.

Today's game should be lively as it is part of the NCAA's "Pack the House Challenge" and there's a full house along press row. Along with sitting next to Graham Hays of ESPN.com, Fox Sports is to my right, the Sun Devil Sports Network radio is to my left and across the court there is media sitting on the floor among the officials.

Stay tuned, we are tipping off in 30 mintues...

January 19, 2008

It's A Good Day To Be A Trojan

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The rivalry between USC and UCLA in any sport or acadmic discipline is intense. Each school wants to be known as being better than the other and that intense nature between the two schools was proudly displayed in the 64-56 USC home win over UCLA.

"It was another great game and great crowd for southern California girls basketball," said USC coach Mark Trakh. "It came down to the end again like they all do. They are a hot team. They came in as a hot team and were playing really well. We knew they had a big front line and some athletic guards so we knew we had to come to play. The game was a lot of fun and entertaining with some great plays by both teams."

While all 40 minutes of the game was exciting to watch, it is the series of events with the score at 59-56 in USC's favor during the last six-tenths of the game which will keep everyone talking.

It was with less than a second on the clock when UCLA's senior forward Lindsey Pluimer took a last-hope three-point in the lshot to push the game into overtime when it was blocked by USC's junior center Nadia Parker. Parker's block was recovered by teammate and fifth-year senior Alison Jaskowiak who was trying to hold onto the ball. Jaskowiak got fouled and then it started to look ugly.

"I tried to foul because time was up," said Pluimer, who did catch an elbow in the left cheek. "We got tangled up and I think it looked bad in how we got tangled up. My teammates and their teammates came in trying to separate us out and that’s what happened."

It may have been messy to watch, but as USC and UCLA players started to come off their respective benches, that's what created a chaotic scene on the court.

After 15 minutes of review by the officials, Pluimer was assessed with a personal and technical foul, UCLA's Tierra Henderson and Chinyere Ibekwe were each given technical and personal fouls and Monique Alexander and Candice Brown were each ejected from the game for coming off the bench. On the USC side of the floor, Jaskowiak was issued a personal and technical foul while Jackie Gemelos (who is currently sitting out the season due to re-tearing her ACL) was also ejected from the game for coming off the bench. After the fouls stopped flying, Jaskowiak took to the free-throw line where she hit five out of the six free-throws she was given.

"It seemed like it got blown out of proportion for what it really was," said Jaskowiak. "They were trying to foul and we were trying to get the ball."

This captivating chain of events had all 8,545 in attendance on pins and needles at the end, but it was the toughness of these two teams battling it out through the previous 39.4 minutes that will be remembered in southern California women's basketball for years to come.

USC controlled the entire first half by running the score up to 33-16 going into half time. Highlights from the first half included a blocked shot by USC 5-foot-6 guard Camille LeNoir that led to a fastbreak and behind-the-back pass to teammate Heather Oliver for an easy two with 8:16 to go in the first half.

UCLA chipped away at USC's largest lead of 21 points early on in the second half, but at no point did USC become rattled by their lead diminishing. Instead, they stayed on-task and finished today's game with a win.

"I felt that at half time we were full of energy and were going to come out with the same intensity that we came out with in the first half," said Jaskowiak. "For the most part we did. We had a few lapses in defense and things like that. Their players stepped up, made some good shots and whenever we made errors they capitalized on it, which is what a good team should do. We just stayed level-headed and pushed through to the second half."

Leading the way for USC was Oliver with 15 points while Parker finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and LeNoir finishing with 12 points.

UCLA was led once again by the senior leadership of Pluimer and her 15 points while Tierra Henderson followed close behind with 12 points.

UCLA will be without Alexander and Brown as an ejection is an automatic one-game suspension while USC will not lose any players for next game as Gemelos is not playing this year.

Complimenting USC's win in women's basketball was USC's men also upsetting the No. 4-ranked UCLA men's basketball team across town at UCLA. With two USC basketball wins today, it definitely is a good day to be a Trojan.

That's it from the Galen Center! Catch everyone tomorrow in Tempe!

Photo finish

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- We've got an official time out here at the Galen Center as the refs are reviewing the last play of the game.

A fight was on the verge of breaking out here after UCLA's Pluimer got her shot blocked by USC's Parker. USC's Jaskowiak then got the ball and while trying to protect the ball, inadvertantly threw an elbow that clocked UCLA's Pluimer.

What happend next will need to be described in my post-game, but to keep everyone in suspense, I'll tease you with the following foul and ejection count - UCLA - three technicals, one personal foul and three players ejected vs. USC - one technical and one player ejected.

It's all over, USC 64, UCLA 56...

More to come...

Hold your breath...

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- There's 10.6 seconds left and after getting a defensive rebound, UCLA just called a time out.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 56
USC 59

Two minute drill

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- There's less than two minutes left in the game and USC is holding on to their lead that started at the beginning of the game.

UCLA is playing a full court man press, but USC is able to break it.

UCLA in bear clawing their way in these final minutes.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 51
USC 58
Time: 1:50

Closing the gap

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- We're in the last half of the second half and USC's lead has been whittling down.

UCLA may be owning the boards 39-30, but it's the Trojans who are in control of the game.

USC is shooting 43.4% for the game while UCLA continues to struggle with 33.9% shooting. UCLS is killing themselves from the free-throw line with 30% shooting.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 43
USC 58

Time: 5:20

Wait! That's a horse move!

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- We are in the second half and USC is holding onto its first-half lead.

UCLS is still having problems finding the bottom of the net after three missed shots in a row turned the ball back over to USC. USC's Brynn Cameron just added an exclamation mark to those missed shots by hitting a three-pointer to extend the lead.

One of the best quotes all season came from USC coach Mark Trakh during Pac-10 media day back in November about Cameron:

"She's the best shooting mom in the country."

Cameron is back this season after sitting out last season due to being pregnant and delivering her first son, Cole.

Meanwhile USC's Simone Jelks just pulled off a reverse no look lay-up and got the foul. If this was a game of chicken, UCLA may think that something was fowl with that last play. However, since it's the game of horse that is played in basketball, UCLA just got a letter by allowing Jelks to pull off that move.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 35
USC 45
Time: 11:11

The ones to watch are not the men

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- No disrespect to my colleague Bob Holtzman who is across town covering the USC vs. UCLA men's game for Posting Up, but Westwood is not the place to be in LA right now. Instead, it is here at the Galen Center where USC's Camille LeNoir just blocked a shot by UCLA's Nina Earl and then on the fastbreak did a behind-the-back pass to teammate (and G'day mate) Heather Oliver for an easy two. It was a series of moves that you usually only see in one of the men's games, so it's making this game the one to watch.

It's halftime and USC is off to a comfortable 33-16 lead thanks USC's favorite Aussie Oliver leading the team with 10 points and just about everyone contributing with a couple of points. It also doesn't hurt that USC is shooting 43.8% from the field while UCLA is struggling at their 25% shooting percentage. UCLA is currently being paced by Cinyere Ibekwe's team-leading eight points.

Stay tuned, more to come after the half...

Air Ball Boyko No More

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- While I am embarrassed enough to have shot not just one, but two air balls during my game of horse with Kathy Olivier, after seeing UCLA's Doreena Campbell just throw up an air ball from beyond the three-point line and right in front of the USC bench, I am suddenly not feeling so bad.

USC is continuing to dominate this game by building up a nice lead 23-9 lead in the first half.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 8
USC 23

Time on the clock: 5:00

The Tenacious Trojans

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- USC is currently up and I like what I am seeing from the Women of Troy.

They are playing with a lot of energy, confidence and appear to be tireless as they are running the floor, boxing out and playing tough defense. On offense there is a fearless sense about them. They are staying calm, finding their shot and not afraid to shoot from anywhere on the court.

UCLA however is struggling.

They are shooting dismal 21% from the field and have yet to break the double-digit mark. Adding to the Bruin frustration is that lid that seems to be on the south end net they are shooting at.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 8
USC 13

Time to make some noise!

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- We've just tipped off here at the Galen Center and USC has started off by winning the tip.

It took just over a minute, but USC is striking first with a sole free-throw by Heather Olivier.

Following-up on that free-throw is USC endjoying a 9-2 run in the first five minutes of the game.

USC is playing a tough full court press, picking off passes and being successful on fast break opportunities against UCLA, the Bruins just took their first time-out of the game at 16:12 to try to cool off the Trojans who are shooting 57% from the field.

The fans are loud and proud here as it is pizza delivery time.

Stay tuned....

UCLA 2
USC 9

15:39

A Day In Troy

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- There's still 20 minutes to go, but today being 'A Day in Troy' on USC's campus where elementary and junior high aged kids come to spend a day on campus and attend the basketball game, UCLA may not get the crowd behind them during this game.

Yes, the kiddies are present and accounted for here at the Galen Center. The entire upper level looks like it is going to be full and as we wait for season ticket holders to arrive, there's already a good crowd forming.

While walking around the concourse a few minutes ago I was reminded how kids can say the darndest things. Well, it was actually a shirt that read "Life. Get One" that caught my attention, but still pretty funny. The young girl wearing the shirt looked to be about 8 years old and with the t-shirt itself being Tennessee Volunteer orange, it was hard to miss.

Stay tuned...

The Ladies of LA

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Forget about wanting all of the tea in China, it's all about the bragging rights in LA today!

UCLA (9-8, 4-2 Pac-10) has made the 15-mile trek over here to USC's (10-7, 3-3 Pac-10) Galen Center today. Since the history of the rivalry between the LA schools in the Pac-10 is full of heart-breaking and full-combat stories, today's match-up should be no exception.

First for the visitors from Westwood (who USC fans often refer to as that high school over in Westwood) there are the UCLA Bruins. UCLA is riding high at the moment after sweeping both Washington schools on the road and knocking off No. 2 Stanford at home earlier this month.

With two players -- senior Lindsey Pluimer and freshman Nina Earl -- averaging in double-figures and three other freshman on the cusp of also averaging double digit figures, UCLA is averaging 71.6 ppg and rankes second in the Pac-10. Right now UCLA is tied for third place with Stanford in the Pac-10, but with a win today, the Bruins can help put a little bit of distance between them and USC, which is currently all alone in fifth place.

Meanwhile, welcome to the home of the Trojans!

USC (which UCLA fans like to refer to as the University of Spoiled Children) may have home court advantage, but with the Trojans struggling through the season (they split their games at the Washington schools last weekend and split home games against the Bay area schools the weekend before), a win today could give the Women of Troy a much needed confidence boost before hosting the Oregon schools next weekend.

USC also has two players leading the team with double figures with juniors Nadia Parker and Camille LeNoir. Yet it is the emergence of one of the newbies on the team -- sophomore Heather Oliver with a team third-best 8.1 ppg -- that is making teams take notice of where she is at when on the floor.

While bragging rights are one thing to be earned in today's game, Lexus Gauntlet points are another. The winner of today's game will earn five points for their school in the year-long competition, but it's UCLA who is looking to narrow the gap in the 39-31 lead that USC has in the all time series. USC currently leads the 2007-08 Gauntlet competition with 22.5 points to UCLA's 12.5.

This match-up is so special not just because it's a rivalry game and USC having five straight wins over UCLA, but since six of the past seven games between these two schools have been decided by four or fewer points this is so much more than your average Pac-10 game taking place in a just over an hour.

On paper UCLA may have the edge in today's game, but whenever it's rivalry time in LA anything can and will happen.

Stay tuned, the challenge is about to begin...

January 14, 2008

Another Classic Rivalry Game

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke and Maryland is a rivalry, there is no doubt about that. The 15,531 in attendance at the Comcast Center, the fifth highest total in ACC history, proves it.

What first started in 2006 at the Final Four when the underdog Terps beat the Blue Devils only grew last year when Duke beat Maryland twice during the regular season to exact their revenge.

This season, with Duke losing All-Americans Alison Bales and Lindsey Harding, and with Maryland keeping almost its entire roster from that 2006 title team, you would think Maryland would have an easy go. Especially at home.

It definitely wasn't easy.

"Anytime we play Duke, the physicality of the game obviously steps up," said Maryland senior Laura Harper when asked about finally putting a stop to not beating Duke at home since 1998. "Pride, obviously, is a big thing with the rivalry. We wanted to end this streak and as much as you don't want to say it, that's something that was important to us and it feels so good to say as a senior, now we did it."

In fact, with 6:55 to play in the game, Duke tied the score at 65, the first time the score was knotted since it was 2-2. With just under six minutes, Duke senior Wanisha Smith was on the line having made the first of two free throws to tie the score again, this time at 68, but her second attempt, that would have been Duke's first lead, missed.

From there, the Terps would go on a 17-2 run to end the game and take it, 85-70.

The argument can be made that Duke played with a lot of heart and a lot of hustle. And they did. But, to be honest, this group of Blue Devils shouldn't beat the Terps, the first team to reach 20 wins at 20-1.

This group of Blue Devils doesn't run as fast as last year's version. They don't pass as well, shoot as well and they aren't as together. They have a new coach, a new system and the only two returning scorers from last year's bunch, Smith and junior Abby Waner, were having a down year up to this game.

Smith and Waner, however, were two of the brighter spots for Duke tonight. Waner finished with 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting. She was, however, only 1-for-7 from long range. Waner still needs to improve upon those numbers for Duke to play to their potential. Smith scored 17, but like Waner, she did so on 4-of-13 shooting. Not exactly her best performance.

The player of the game for Duke (13-4, 2-1 ACC), instead, was freshman Jasmine Thomas. I've been high on Thomas since I first saw her at the United States Under-19 training camp in Washington D.C. back in the summer. Thomas finished with 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting and was 2-for-5 from deep.

Perhaps the biggest key to this game was free throw shooting. Often times, with Duke closing in on the Terps, I thought, "How are they still in this game?" It seems many around Comcast wondered the same thing. But there the Dukies were, still in it for almost the entire game. But when Maryland shoots 42 free throws to Duke's 16 - and makes 33 to their 10 - that is going to cover the difference.

"We had 16 free throws and Maryland had 42?" first-year coach Joanne P. McCallie asked after the game when posed with the very same question. "That's a huge number and unbelievable. I wonder if that's a record or something. That kind of deficit cannot exist for us to be successful."

Maryland (20-1, 4-0 ACC) was led by a player who I think does not get enough credit. Junior forward Marissa Coleman stole the show for the Terps tonight. Hell, she was the show. Coleman, a long-time close friend to Duke's Abby Waner, tied a career high with 30 points off 9-of-13 shooting including going 4-of-5 from three. She also blocked three shots and grabbed six rebounds while making 8-of-11 free throws.

"Like we've said all along; Marissa is a matchup nightmare," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese, who looked like she could go into labor with her twins at any moment. "I thought Duke had no answer for Marissa. She was really strong. I thought she was phenomenal to watch."

Outside of Coleman, the Terps didn't shoot particularly well, the reason Duke was able to stay in this game as long as they did. Shooting under 40 percent for the game, you can bet coach Frese was looking for a better effort in that department.

Point guard Kristi Toliver, the Terps' leading scorer, finished with 21 points but shot 4-of-17 from the field. She did finish 10-of-13 from the line, however. Crystal Langhorne, who looked like she could impose her will in the first half, but struggled in the second, finished with 16 points and seven boards and Laura Harper dropped 13 and grabbed nine rebounds.

Harper and Langhorne both started quick in the first half, only to slow down in the second, but with good reason. The defense they played on Duke's leading scorer Chante Black was impeccable. Black could only muster four points on 2-of-11 shooting thanks to their efforts.

Duke is the No. 10 team in the nation and Maryland is No. 4. That's not that big of a difference, but if you watched this game then you could tell who the national title contender, and who the pretender, was. Maryland was shaky and didn't play particularly sound basketball and yet they still pulled away to win by 15 points.

Good basketball teams can win ugly. This win was ugly and Maryland is a great basketball team.

Play Of The Game:
In the span of one minute's time, with six minutes to play in the game, Duke lost and Maryland won. It was tied, and then it was over, just like that.

Wanisha Smith was on the free throw line needing one more to take Duke's first lead of the night. She missed and Maryland responded as Crystal Langhorne used her lightning-quick post moves to score an easy bucket.

Maryland got the ball back and with 5:23 to play, Marissa Coleman hit a runner that made the crowd erupt - and the crowd was quite noisy all night, but this could have blown the roof off of Cameron Indoor.

With five minutes to play Joy Cheek fouled out and the rout was on. Duke only scored two points the rest of the way to Maryland's 17 after that free throw and that was all the difference.

Player Of The Game:
Maryland junior forward Marissa Coleman
Coleman tied a career high with 30 points and was the one consistent scoring threat for the Terps all night long. But more than the points, it was Coleman's attitude and ability to ignite the crowd and her own bench that set her apart in this one.

"I think the crowd played a big part of it and it's just extra motivation in playing Duke at home," Coleman said. "We wanted to send our seniors out with a win and this was their last chance to beat Duke at home. It was special and it was fun."

You were special, and it was fun to watch.

Quote Of The Game:
Maryland's Laura Harper standing at halfcourt addressing the fans immediately following the game:

"We beat Duke, we beat Duke, you guys!"

Think the No. 4 team doesn't get excited when they beat the No. 10 team at home? Well, when it's Maryland-Duke and Maryland hasn't won a home game versus the Blue Devils since 1998, you get very excited to beat the No. 10 team in the country.

Up Next:
For Duke, the Blue Devils get to go home to Cameron for a game against Kay Yow's N.C. State team on Jan. 20.

Maryland, the first team in the country to 20 wins, travels to Charlottesville for a meeting with Virginia on Jan. 18 as they look to improve to 5-0 in the ACC.

It's Over

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the score 85-70 with 51.4 seconds to play, this one is all over but Duke's crying.

The Blue Devils held their own for a long time in this game, longer than I expected. But, in the end, Maryland was too much. A revelation many ACC teams will be finding out shortly.

The Terps improve to 20-1 on the season with the victory and Duke falls to 13-4. Maryland is now 4-0 in the ACC and Duke is 2-1.

Your leading scorer was Marissa Coleman, who tied her career high with 30 points. Check back later for a complete postgame recap.

Tie, And Then Not

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke scratched and clawed and tied the game.

Then Maryland took it back.

Duke managed to tie the game at 65 and then again at 68 before Maryland used inside play and free throws to score the next eight points and go up 76-68 with 3:23 to go.

Maryland's Marissa Coleman is in the middle of one of the best games she has played at Maryland. The junior has 27 points right now, three off her career high which she set earlier in the season against UC Santa Barbara.

Harper Goes Out

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Maryland's Laura Harper picked up her fourth foul with just under nine minutes to play in the game.

That could hurt the Terps, who must counter with 6-foot-1 Jade Perry. Without the 6-foot-4 Harper, Maryland's biggest player is Crystal Langhorne at 6-foot-2. This puts Maryland at a disadvantage on the boards.

After a Wanisha Smith bucket, Duke has crawled back to within five at 65-60 with 7:50 to play in the game.

Hanging Around

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With 11:35 to play in the game, Duke is hanging in there.

The score is 60-53 with the Blue Devils looking like they will be in this game until the end. With that said, Maryland still looks like the much better team.

It is obvious that Maryland has one of the best - if not the best - starting fives in the nation and Duke simply cannot compete. But with Maryland struggling to hit its shots and with turnovers happening more frequently than Brenda Frese would like, Duke sticks around.

All this sticking around could prove very costly for Maryland in the end. Stick around for the exciting conclusion.

Duke Losing Composure? Don't Think So

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Joy Cheek gave Marissa Coleman a love tap.

The official didn't feel so good about it. He gave her a technical foul as Coleman laughed off the bump.

Meanwhile, Maryland is missing its shots and all the technical did was ignite the Blue Devils. Duke's Jasmine Thomas hit a three and followed that with a steal and a lay up to bring Duke all the way back into this game.

The score is now 47-44 Maryland with 18 minutes to play in the game.

Great End To The Half

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - What an incredible finish to an otherwise suspect first half here at the Comcast Center.

It all happened with Maryland up 37-31 with one minute to play. Marissa Coleman hit a three from the corner and pumped her fists in celebration, making the crowd erupt.

The Terps followed the three by picking off a Duke pass and going on a fast break, ended by another Coleman three with 20 seconds left that gave them a 43-31 lead and made the crowd go nuts.

Duke looked visibily flustered at this point, but was bailed out when Abby Waner drove to the hoop and was fouled with four seconds to play.

Waner missed her first free throw, sending the crowd into celebration once more - the students have been heckling Waner all game long with chants of, "Waaaaaaner, Waaaaaaner!"

She hit the second, the crowd silenced and the Terps couldn't score again. 43-32 Maryland at the half.

Leading the way for the Terps is Coleman, who has put on a show with her incredible personality and flair. When Coleman makes a big play, she lets the crowd know about it and they enjoy it with her. Coleman has 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting. She's a perfect 3-for-3 from deep and has made 6-of-6 free throws.

In fact, free throws have been the story for Maryland. The Terps haven't been finishing from the field, but from the line, they have been pretty close to perfect going 17-for-18. Maryland has been phyically superior to the Blue Devils and so have been getting to the line regularly.

2006 Final Four MOP Laura Harper has 12 points, five boards and, get this, five steals in the first half for the Terps.

Duke was led with 11 points by Abby Waner. Waner has showed flashes of her last-year self, but is still struggling to put the ball in the hoop as she shot 4-for-11 and 1-for-6 from deep.

The Blue Devils scrapped and clawed to stay with a dominant but shaky Maryland team through the first half, but they will have to shoot a lot better and not turn the ball over 13 times in the second if they hope to be in this game at the end.

For anyone watching this game closely, it's fairly obvious that Duke isn't in the same class as these Terps. If Maryland wanted to go inside to Crystal Langhorne, Coleman and Harper every single time, they probably could.

Still Fight In These Devils

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Well, folks, Duke has found a way to claw back into this game.

How? Mostly because Maryland started playing a little sloppy, combined with missing their shots and not getting to loose balls and rebounds.

That's not to take anything away from Duke's play, they are playing scrappy and with a lot of heart and hustle, but Maryland just looks physically superior in every way, and yet, after another Abby Waner steal and lay up, the score is 31-27 with 3:47 remaining in the first half and Waner still with another free throw.

Maryland is shooting under 40 percent from the field, of course, Duke is only shooting 35 percent. The Blue Devils are getting the put backs and fast breaks, however, because right now they are playing with more intensity.

What Maryland does is pretty, but right now it hasn't been so effective. There is nothing pretty about what Duke is doing, but right now, Maryland will need to change something to stop from letting them all they way back in this one.

Abby Waner Sighting

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Did Duke wake up?

It's been like sleep walking over the first 10 minutes for the Blue Devils. Maryland opened a 17-4 lead.

The lead has now shrunk to 17-11 after Abby Waner scored five points in a row off a ridiculously long-range bomb and then a steal at the top of the key to lead a break and complete a nifty behind-the-back pass and get back to finish.

Duke needs more of Waner if they hope to get back in this game and eventually pull off the upset. Duke needs more of Waner, period.

Give Me More Harper

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke has taken their second timeout of the game and we still have 14:19 to play in the first half!

Laura Harper is unconscious right now, making steals and scoring at the other end. Harper has nine of Maryland's 17 points as they lead Duke, 17-4.

Maryland Starts Quick, Duke Cold

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke was going to have to come out and be next to perfect to avoid a quick start from Maryland.

They are nowhere near perfect. Try 1-for-8 from the field.

And that's why Maryland - just overpowering Duke physically and on the blocks - has opened up an early 10-2 lead.

Laura Harper has been big, converting on a three-point play and hitting two other free throws for five early points. Marah Strickland followed a Marissa Coleman steal by hitting a three that gave the Terps their 10 points. Kristi Toliver has the other two points for the Terps.

Terrapins Out For Revenge

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Welcome to the "House That Gary Built" and that coach Brenda Frese is currently leasing until the men's version of the Terrapins can catch up.

Maryland wears red, the color of blood, and that's exactly what they can smell as the No. 10 Duke Blue Devils come to the Comcast Center.

Sure, Duke is riding an impressive eight-game winning streak since retaining the services of senior Wanisha Smith, junior Abby Waner and freshman Krystal Thomas, who missed a combined 14 games on the season so far.

That doesn't bother Maryland. The Terps will have a message for Duke.

Last season, a dominant Duke team served Maryland payback for defeating them in the Final Four in 2006, beating the Terps twice during last regular season. Maryland is back, but is Duke?

Winning streak or no, this isn't the same Duke team that came into Comcast and came away 69-57 victors last year. This team doesn't even have the same coach, though coach Joanne P. McCallie is doing a fine job in her first season in Durham.

The fact is, the players Duke was planning on stepping up for them this season, namely Waner and Smith, have been either injured or ineffective or both.

Waner might be the team's second leading scorer with 11 points a game, but the junior was so much more last season. She was a firecracker. I personally witnessed her take five or six steps past halfcourt and coldly fire - and swish - the longest three I've ever seen a woman take in a game. That's actually where the idea for the name of this blog came from.

This year Waner is shooting under 35 percent from the floor and I think the country is wondering – along with the people who chose her for preseason All-American status - where the girl who couldn't miss at times went?

We were expecting 20 points per game, not 11, and Waner will have to find that scoring touch if Duke wants to seriously compete for titles this year.

Smith, on the same disappointing hand, has missed five games due to injury but is only averaging 7.4 points on the season. If it looked like she had her year turning in the right direction after back-to-back games in double figures against North Carolina Central and Miami, against Florida State she scored just one point on 0-for-9 shooting.

Another player who I believe is playing under her skill level is center Chante Black. Black was supposed to step right in for Alison Bales' departure and she has for the most part. But at 14 points and under eight rebounds per game, Duke needs more dominating numbers from a player who stands 6-foot-5.

That's why Maryland, who wants to atone for their losses a season ago in the worst way, is salivating at the chance to take down the Dukies.

The No. 4 Terps are 19-1 and have won nine games in a row since their lone loss to Rutgers back on Dec. 3. They are absolutely firing on all cylinders right now. With Crystal Langhorne completely healthy - she was named the ACC Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 7 - to go along with silky smoothness of point guard Kristi Toliver, that's an inside-outside scoring duo that no other team in the country can match.

Toliver, a junior, leads the team with 17 points and almost eight assists per game. Langhorne is now up to 14 points and leads the team in rebounding with almost nine per. Senior forward Laura Harper is doing her thing at 14 points and eight boards and freshman starting two guard Marah Strickland is dropping over nine points a game and has hit double figures in her last four.

Oh, that's only four starters? I must have forgot junior forward Marissa Coleman. She's the Terps X-factor and is consistently overlooked, but for no good reason. Listed at 6-foot-1, Coleman has a basketball players body and looks like an athlete running the floor. She is smooth and big and can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. She is scoring 15 points and pulling down over eight rebounds a night.

I am really not sure there is a better starting five in America, and I am positive that Duke isn't one of them. At home, with revenge on their minds, Maryland should take this game. But then again, it is Duke, and I think I said the same thing last year.

January 13, 2008

Bonner, Outside Shooting Keys Auburn 82-52 Rout Over Georgia

Auburn, AL --- In a game that was meant to be a clash between two bitter rivals, the #22 Auburn Tigers dominated the #10 Georgia Bulldogs with the 82-52 victory.

"I'm a really happy coach today," Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said, "The team responded to a couple of really tough practices this week, and really showed who we were."

Auburn's big win was led by their outside shooting as they went 6-10 from beyond the arc, and shot 46% from the field overall. The Tigers' tenacious defense also keyed into the victory as forwards Jordan Greenleaf and Dewanna Bonner doubled down on Georgia's two tall forwards, Tasha Humphrey and Angel Robinson.

Auburn also kept the ball out of Tasha Humphrey's hands by running the floor, keeping the Bulldogs from really getting into their half-court sets.

"We want to play up tempo," Fortner said, "Georgia doesn't usually play a lot of players. We wanted to wear them down."

Combined, Robinson and Humphrey were only able to contribute 11 points and 11 rebounds, while picking up eight fouls. With Georgia's advantage on the inside taken away, they were forced to settle for the outside shot. For the game, the Bulldogs shot just 30% from the field.

"Our shooting percentage from the inside was awful," Georgia head coach Andy Landers said, "We were able to make some good passes to the inside, but there were times where we would miss put backs from two feet out."

While Georgia wasn't able to put much of anything into the basket, the Auburn Tigers had five players score 12 points or more in this contest.

The leading performer for Auburn was forward Dewanna Bonner. For the game, she had 21 points and 13 rebounds to give her a double-double. She shot 7-14 from the field, but hit 2-3 from three point range.

"I think we just got some good shots up at the beginning of the game," Auburn forward Dewanna Bonner said, "We had the mindset that we could beat the number 10 team in the country."

Georgia's lone bright spot came from sophomore guard Ashley Houts' performance. She was the leading scorer for Georgia with 15 points, while shooting 4-7 from the field. Georgia's usual leading performer, Tasha Humphrey, only spent 23 minutes on the floor due to foul trouble and only picked up nine points and seven rebounds.

"There were always two or three people around me in the post," Georgia forward Tasha Humphrey said, "It's hard to score with that many people surrounding me."

With the victory, Auburn moves to 13-4 overall, and 1-1 in the SEC. Georgia falls to 14-2, 1-1 in the SEC. The road doesn't get any easier for the Bulldogs as they face off against Vanderbilt in Nashville on Thursday. Auburn's next opponent is Kentucky in Lexington next Sunday.

Huge Win In The Works

Auburn, AL --- While Auburn came into this game as the underdog, they have played like the a heavy favorite. With 3:47 to go, Auburn leads 76-44. Most of the starters on both sides are now out of the game, and it looks like both teams just want to get this one into the books.

For Georgia, the lone bright spot in this game has been the play of sophomore point guard Ashley Houts. She is the Bulldogs leading scorer with 15. She was 4-7 from the field, and hit all 7 of her free throw attempts. Meanwhile, Tasha Humphrey and Angel Robinson each combined for 11 points and eight fouls.

Four Auburn players have 12 points, but forward Dewanna Bonner was the MVP on both sides of the ball. She led Auburn in points with 21, and led them in rebounds with 13.

Today's almost certain victory for Auburn is their biggest win of the season besting their previous best of 75-69 over #14 Arizona State on this floor in early December. The Tigers appeared battle ready in today's contest as they played much tougher opponents in their non-conference schedule.

Meanwhile, Georgia will have to knock the rust off quickly as they head to Nashville for a big match-up against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

The Rout Is On

Auburn, AL --- With 6"01 to play in the game, Auburn has the 70-44 lead. The Tigers have al but put this game in the books. Taking a look at the Georgia bench, there is very little energy and the team appears to have come to the realization that this game is over.

While Tasha Humphrey has had significant minutes in the second half, even with four fouls, her effect on the game has been very minimal. Auburn's combination of Jordan Greenleaf and Dewanna Bonner has kept her off of the stat sheets for the most part.

Dewanna Bonner now has her double-double with 19 points and ten rebounds. Tigers junior guard Sherell Hobbs has also contributed in a major way with 10 points, most of qhich have come in the second half.

Auburn Taking Over The Game

Auburn, AL --- The score is now 56-37 Auburn. It is their biggest lead of the game. UGA's shooting woes continue as they have just not been able to hit much of anything from the outside.

Both of UGA's top forwards, Tasha Humphrey and Angel Robinson, have four fouls. Each of them are still playing, but obviously must do so tentatively in order to keep from being disqualified.

While Humphrey and Bonner have not been able to make their presence in the game, Auburn forward Dewanna Bonner has been dominant from inside the lane and on the outside. She leads the Tigers in points with 19, and is one rebound away from a double-double.

UGA, AU Trading Buckets

Auburn, AL --- With 15:13 left in the second half, Auburn is holding onto their 13 point advantage with the score standing at 50-37.

On the last bucket, Tasha Humphrey picked up her fourth foul when Auburn's senior guard Tamela McCorvey drove inside and drew the foul on her floater.

UGA will now have to rely on their guard play to get them back into this contest.

Tigers Pounce on Dogs Before Half

Auburn, AL --- At half time, the Auburn Tigers lead 42-29. They have dominated the pace of the game, and have played tenacious defense leading to many points off of turnovers.

If not for a late three pointer from UGA forward Megan Darrah, the Bulldogs would be down by 16. The biggest story for Georgia right now is their lack of presence on the inside. Auburn is outrebounding Georgia by a 21-14 margin even though the Tigers' tallest player on the floor is Dewanna Bonner at 6' 4". The task of picking up bals off the boards now becomes more difficult for Georgia as Tasha Humphrey has three fouls.

She leads the Tigers in scoring with 12 points. Bonner and the rest of the Tigers have hit five three pointers, and have shot the ball from the outside very well.

In order for Auburn to continue to pull off the upset at home, they will need to continue their defense and push the tempo of the game.

Tigers lead by 13

Auburn, AL --- With 3:01 to play, Auburn leads 36-23. Auburn's fast start has slowed down a good bit on the offensive end as they are shooting less from the outside, turning the ball over more and not creating as many fast break opportunities.

Georgia continues to settle for the outside show though and has not been able to take advantage of their size advantage over the Tigers. The Bulldogs interior presnce in Angel Robinson and Tasha Humphrey has ben very limited. They have combined for four points, and Humphrey is on the bench now with three fouls.

Bonner, Tigers Making It Rain

Auburn, AL --- So far, Auburn is shooting the lights out. With 11:21 to go in the half, Auburn has extended their lead to 23-11. The Tigers have hit four threes with Dewanna Bonner responsible for two of them. Her point total is up to ten for the half.

Meanwhile, Georgia has not been able to put much of anything in since the first timeout. Tasha Humphrey has just two points on the day, and she is being heavily guarded. With the rest of the team unable to shoot from the outside, UGA may need to look to their sophomore point guard Ashley Houts to drive the ball inside to create offensive opportunities.

Right now, it is all Auburn though and that won't change unless Georgia slows down the pace of this game and starts shooting better.

Tigers Lead Early

Auburn, AL --- Auburn's Dewanna Bonner has gotten the Tigers off to a fast start. At the first timeout, Auburn leads 11-7 over Georgia with the help of her five points. Tamela McCorvey also has a three.

For Georgia, they have been unable to set up in the half court offense. Auburn has been controlling the tempo early, and has been pushing the all up and down the floor. While Tasha Humphrey and Angel Robinson, UGA's big contributors on the inside, have been around the ball quite a bit and have been able to pick up the rebounds they usually get to. However, they have not been able to put the ball into the basket.

With 15:05 remaining in the first half, Auburn leads 11-7.

January 12, 2008

Connecticut Extends Streak against Cardinals

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- If you listen to Connecticut (15-0, 3-0) head coach Geno Auriemma, it's not easy being 15-0 and the undefeated No. 1 team in the nation.

"We know we aren't going to win by 40 or 50 every night," Auriemma said. "It's not realistic."

Even through the Huskies didn't win by 40, they still slowly dismantled a Louisville team boosted by 19,123 fans that set a school and conference record for a women's game by a score of 92-71.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- If you listen to Connecticut (15-0, 3-0) head coach Geno Auriemma, it's not easy being 15-0 and the undefeated No. 1 team in the nation.

"We know we aren't going to win by 40 or 50 every night," Auriemma said. "It's not realistic."

Even through the Huskies didn't win by 40, they still slowly dismantled a Louisville team boosted by 19,123 fans that set a school and conference record for a women's game by a score of 92-71.

"It was a great crowd for Louisville," Connecticut freshman forward Maya Moore said. "It makes you want to play at your best."

Behind that crowd, Louisville (11-5, 0-3) made plenty of runs at the No. 1 Huskies all behind the Cardinals go-to player, junior forward Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry constantly put her team on her back, scoring when the team needed it the most, all while completing a double double of 30 points and 11 rebounds.

"When you have a player like Angel you know you're going to be in every game," Auriemma said. " She's very hard to guard."

While McCoughtry may have been the best player on the court, Connecticut proved it was the best team using it's normal explosive duo of Moore and sophomore center Tina Charles in addition to guards Ketia Swanier and Renee Montgomery. When Louisville depended on one player, Connecticut relied on it's depth.

"There's a reason they are number one in the country," Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said. "It's not going to surprise me if they win a national championship."

Charles grabbed a double double, 19 points and 14 boards, for the fourth game in a row while Moore added 23 points to help UConn stay unbeaten.

Yet the thing that doomed the Cardinals the most was it's own shooting. A dismal 15 percent from the arc and a horrific 35 percent from the charity stripe meant Louisville was fighting more than just Connecticut all game, it was fighting itself.

And while the outcome may seem otherwise, neither team felt like it was a 21-point blowout.

"We played hard the whole game," Moore said. "I always felt like it was a close game."

Even the losing coach thought he team always had a chance.

"Anyone who was here saw it wasn't a 21-point game," Walz said.

And while the score may not reflect the game, there is one certainy that remains-- Connecticut is still undefeated.

"Even when everything isn't going our way we still have people who can hit shots and put away the game," said Charles.


STAT OF THE GAME: Louisville shot 7 of 12 for 35 percent at the free throw lane

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Angel McCoughtry

QUOTE OF THE GAME: "We didn't care that it said UCONN on the front of the jersey, we just played hard." -- Patrika Barlow, senior guard for Louisville

Angel Flies Away

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- That's it, Angel McCoughtry just fouled out of the game with less than three minutes left in the game.

You can't blame McCoughtry for this eventual loss though, she's scored 30 points and tried everything she could.

Connecticut Cruising

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With just under four minutes left in the game, the UConn Huskies are slowly cruising to their 15 win of the season here in Freedom Hall.

Louisville's Angel McCoughtry just picked up her fourth foul and if Louisville's Ms. Everything picks up her fifth, it'll just seal a deal that is pretty much already made with the Cardinals down 18, 82-64.

Barring anything crazy, Louisville gave it their best shot but Connecticut is the best team in the land and they are looking to make sure another team realizes that.

Connecticut Shows Depth

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Even without it's two best players on the court, Connecticut is showing that it's more than two players deep, extending their lead to 79-60 over Louisville with six left in the game.

Junior Renee Montgomery hit two threes in a row to put the dagger in Louisville, who is wilting late into this game.

Angel McCoughtry is still carrying her team as best as she can, but Connecticut is proving the addidas commerical's point: It Takes Five.

And right now, Connecticut just has a better five.

Louisville Has New Hope

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After trading baskets with the Huskies, Louisville may finally have an opening against the Huskies when sophomore Tina Charles picked up her fourth final, midway in the second half.

Both of UConn's best players, Charles and freshman Maya Moore, are on the bench with four fouls and over 11 minutes left in the game.

If McCoughtry can avoid her own fourth foul, the Cardinals have a chance to do the impossible. One thing is for sure, the crowd took notice of the difference and willed their team to a quick six points that forced Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma to burn a timeout.

Things could get interesting here soon in Freedom Hall.

Huskies-Cardinals Trading Baskets

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Like the old commercial, anything Louisville can do, Connecticut can do better. That's what the first five minutes of the second half as looked like as both teams have traded baskets since the start of the half

The crowd at Freedom Hall is treating this like a Vegas crowd watching two boxers trade haymakers, constantly on their feet. That has the Cards throwing everything they've got at the No. 1 team (namely Angel McCoughtry) and yet the Huskies just keep punching back.

Even with UConn up 56-43, this crowd isn't letting this game feel like the game is a lost cause.

Connecticut leads 41-30 at Half

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The No. 1 ranked and undefeated Connecticut Huskies are proving why no other team has even sniffed victory against them as they lead the Louisville Cardinals 41-30 at the half.

The Huskies used a team effort to sustain a lead against Louisville in the first half with freshman forward Maya Moore leading the charge with 14 points. Sophomore center Tina Charles added six points of her own to help balance the Huskies.

Even down 11 points, Louisville hasn't rolled over and died for this UConn team like others have. Junior forward Angel McCoughtry has 18 points in basically carrying her team on her wings with 8 of 12 shooting from the field.

Part of the Cardinals fight is the sold out home crowd that seems to push Louisville everytime UConn threatens to completely put the game away. Every McCoughtry point or UConn turnover has brought everyone in arena to their feet. And the Cardinals have never led once.

While the crowd is pushing it's home team as hard as it can, Louisville is going to need someone to become McCoughtry's sidekick to pull off the upset. Candyce Bingham is only 1-for-9 from the field and Louisville is a sorry 4-for-12 from the free throw line.

Connecticut hasn't won a game by any less than 12 points, but you have to believe that behind this foundation-shaking crowd the Cardinals have a puncher's chance. At least they hope so anyway.

Bad News for Cardinals

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With just over three minutes left in the first half, one of the worst things to happen to Louisville just occured, McCoughtry picked up her third foul of the game.

With the Huskies keeping a 17-point lead, 39-22, the less McCoughtry plays the worst things will be for those in red.

The oddest thing about the whole situation? McCoughtry picked up her third on a double foul. Both McCoughtry and Connecticut guard Mel Thomas were whistled. Even with three fouls, McCoughtry is staying in the game.

With over half of Louisville points, can you blame head coach Jeff Walz?

Huskies Pulling Away

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- While it hasn't been flashy, the UConn Huskies are slowly pulling away from the Cardinals towards the end of the first half.

After carrying the Cardinals early the first, Louisville junior Angel McCoughtry has been silent in the second part of the half and it's a big reason why UConn has doubled Louisville's score 34-17.

But if an Angel isn't going to carry this Louisville team, it may not have a hope.

Battle for the Post

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Huskies still have a double digit lead over Louisville, 28-17, but there is quite a battle going on these last couple of possessions in the paint.

I introduce the competitiors, Huskies super-sophomore Tina Charles and Louisville junior Chauntise Wright. Both have four points and are battling for everything on each end of the floor. It's looking like a draw so far, who's going to come out swinging next time?

Huskies Rolling

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Connecticut isn't going to take this one laying down either. The Huskies used a team effort to go on a 10-0 run and are starting to pull away from Louisville midway through the first half, 26-13.

But this crowd seems to rally the Cardinals everytime they start to lose stream. And with the luxury of a timeout, the band and cheerleaders are doing what they are used for-- firing up a crowd. Let's see if Louisville can come out swinging like their famous boxing son.

Angel keeping the Cards Flying

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After picking up that second foul, Angel McCoughtry is literally carrying her team in this game. Contributing seven points alone, McCoughtry brought Louisville within three points before Connecticut hit two free throws to lead 18-13.

It's looking like this game is going to be decided by an Angel. The Cardinals might want some divine intervention against these Huskies.

Cards fighting Early

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It hasn't been pretty, but Connecticut leads Louisville 11-6 early in the first half.

Louisville has struggled down low aganst the UConn defense. Maya Moore leads the Huskies with seven points and Angel McCoughtry leads Louisville with four, yet as picked up two fouls already.

If McCoughtry picks up that third, this game turns into a blowout watch. She's going to stay in the game for now.

Packing the Hall

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- In an effort to pump up their spirits before today's game with No. 1 Connecticut, Louisville promoted today's game as "Pack the House" night in Freedom Hall.

It looks like the message got out as the ticket windows just put up the "SOLD OUT" signs. It looks like some sections have entirely empty rows though.

All this in addition to the entire dance team, cheerleaders and even the pep band here in Freedom Hall. If the Cardinals can get this crowd fired up early, they may just have a chance.

Yes, it's official now, the first sellout in U of L women's history and the highest crowd this season.

Louisville looking to unseat Huskies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- When the Louisville Cardinals take on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, they hope to do what every other opponent as tried: knock off the undefeated No. 1 ranked Huskies.

But if history is any indication, the Lady Cardinals are more likely to wish that everything doesn't fly south so quickly in what Louisville is billing as "Pack the House" night at Freedom Hall.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- When the Louisville Cardinals take on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, they hope to do what every other opponent as tried: knock off the undefeated No. 1 ranked Huskies.

But if history is any indication, the Lady Cardinals are more likely to wish that everything doesn’t fly south so quickly in what Louisville is billing as "Pack the House" night at Freedom Hall.

In their two meetings last year Connecticut dominated the Cards, first in Storrs, Conn. by a score of 84-56 and then again in the Big East tournament semifinals 76-50. Overall the Huskies own a 3-1 series lead with U of L's only win coming in the first round of the 1993 NCAA tournament.

But that won't deter Louisville, who is led by 6-1 junior forward Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry leads the Cards in scoring averaging 23 points and 8 rebounds a game. McCoughtry gets her main help from fellow frontcourt mate, junior forward Candyce Bingham, who averages 14 points and 6 boards a game.

In order to stay undefeated, UConn will rely on it's own frontcourt duo of sophomore center Tina Charles and freshman forward Maya Moore. Charles is averaging a near double double with 14 points and 9.9 boards a game and rides a three game double-double streak. Moore leads all Huskies with 16 points a game and is a three time Big East Freshman of the Week.

With both teams relying on frontcourt points to pull out a victory, things should get interesting down low for both teams. If Louisville wants to get back on the national radar, it'll need McCoughtry to teach her younger opponents a lesson or two and pull off the program's biggest upset.

And good luck in getting out to a quick lead to shock the Huskies; UConn has trailed for just over nine minutes all season.

But if Freedom Hall is close to capacity and rocking with fans, anything can happen. At least that's what Louisville hopes.

January 09, 2008

Making molehills out of the Mountaineers

STORRS, Conn. -- Maya Moore said she wasn't pleased with her play in the Huskies win over Purdue.

After Wednesday's performance, it seemed she was feeling somewhat better about her efforts.

Moore led the No. 1 Huskies with 25 points -- 16 in the first half -- to a dominating 82-48 win over No. 16 West
Virginia at Gampel Pavilion.

"She shot the ball well," said Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma. "There were a couple possessions where she bailed us out [because] we were wandering around on offense ... go ahead, Maya, make a shot."

Moore carried the offense all of the first half and into the second half, shooting 4-for-8 from behind the arc. West Virginia head coach Mike Carey had a few words to say about Moore.

"She can go inside, outside -- hit a couple threes," Carey said. "She's pretty good."

And so were the Huskies (14-0, 2-0) Big East overall, holding the No. 16 team in the nation to 30.9 percent shooting and scoreless for the game's first five minutes, similar to the run that began the 100-50 onslaught of the Boilermakers Jan. 6, where the Huskies held Purdue without a field goal for the first 10 minutes of the game.

"I think [the runs] are something that we're building on as each game goes," Moore said. "It's something that we
expect from ourselves, you know, to come out with that same energy level and it's great to hold teams like that."

UConn outscored the Mountaineers (11-3, 1-1) 27-5 over the games first 9:11, which led Carey to say after the game that his team played "soft" and "scared" and that he was surprised by the effort put forth.

"They're a great team, " Carey said. "We're not as bad as we played tonight."

Even Auriemma was surprised the game became out of hand so quickly.

When asked if he thought his team could keep West Virginia under 50 points, Auriemma said "No, not in a million
years."

You know, they're quick, they shoot the ball pretty well from the perimeter, they're pretty good inside."

With all those accolades from the opposing coach, it was still hard for the Mountaineers to find the basket,
falling well below their average of 78 points per game.

The inside presence of center Olayinka Sanni, who led the team with 17.6 points per game coming into Wednesday's game, was absent for most of the game, as her counterpart Tina Charles took the stage in the paint with another double-double as she tallied 18 points and 14 rebound.

The effort was Charles' third straight double-double -- the first to accomplish the feat since Swin Cash in Nov.
2001 -- and seventh of the season.

"Really, three straight double-doubles?" Auriemma said. "She had a quadruple-double -- how many lay-ups did she
miss tonight? I'm counting."

Aside from the joking from he coach, Charles is having an excellent year, as she is on the verge of averging a
double-double on the season with 14.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

"Hey, Tina Charles can be as good as she wants to be," Auriemma said. "[She has all the things you would want, and she should be averaging a double-double."


PLAYER OF THE GAME

Maya Moore - UConn forward: Moore scored 25 points for the Huskies, which by far led all scorers. In only her
freshman season, Moore is playing like a seasoned pro, opening he collegiate career with 14 straight games in
double figure scoring.

The 20-plus-point effort was Moore's fourth on the season, and most since scoring 31 points against Holy Cross Nov 14.

PLAY OF THE GAME

UConn's 13-0 run to start the game: It seems redundant, but yet other big Huskies run opened the game and gave them momentum they would never relinquish. West Virginia's 0-for-8 skid in the first five minutes of the game didn't
help either.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

"She's just an aggressive individual. She worked her butt off tonight -- to get one rebound, you don't know how
hard that is."

- Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma on the overall play of freshman forward Maya Moore, who had 25 points and one defensive rebound.


Moore starts off right, Huskies finish strong

STORRS, Conn. -- With the help of freshman Maya Moore and an impressive defensive showing, the Huskies finish a dominating performance over West Virginia, winning 84-48 at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn improves to 14-0 while West Virginia drops to 11-3.

Stats, quotes and more coming up.

It's in the bag

STORRS, Conn. -- The bad news is that UConn may not win it's third straight by 50 points. The good news is that they should win by at least 30.

No wonder Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma is still coaching the game like it's tied in the first half.

Following a stolen pass by West Virginia, Auriemma jumped out of his seat to yell at his players.

Although he wasn't happy with the pass, Auriemma and the rest of the Huskies will be proud of their inevitable win, which will put them at 2-0 in the Big East.

With three minutes left in the game, the Huskies lead 81-44.

14th straight win minutes away

STORRS, Conn. -- With eight minutes left to play in the game, it's going to take an enormous comeback, or unbelievable collapse, to get the Mountaineers back in this game.

Chances are, UConn is rolling into their 14th straight win of the season.

Any halftime adjustments made by West Virginia are working somewhat on the offensive end, with 13 points through ten minutes of the second half.

But it is the defense, which has given up 28 points so far, that has failed to stop the Huskies -- even without Maya Moore lighting up the scorecards.

Moore has seen limited time in the half, which is just what UConn head coach Geno Auriemma will do in blowouts -- pull his stars, something he has been doing a lot of this season.

With eight minutes left in the game, UConn leads 73-34.

Halftime - Huskies up big on Mountaineers

STORRS, Conn. -- Facing a top-25 team in the conference shouldn't be this easy.

But for the No. 1 Huskies, it seems closer to playing a Div. II school rather than the No. 16 Mountaineers, who have not found anything on offense or defense through the first half of the game.

The Huskies got off to a quick 13-0 run to start the game, and have not looked back since, leading 43-21 at halftime.

Freshman forward Maya Moore is again looking like a veteran in only a handful of games this season. Moore leads all scorers with 16 points to go along with one block and one steal.

Mel Thomas has already eclipsed her season average of 9.8 points with 11 in the first half, mostly by the three-pointer -- Thomas is 3 for 4 from behind the arc.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies are holding the Mountaineers to 6-of-29 shooting, as well as limiting Olyinka Sanni, West Virginia's leading scorer with more than 17 points per game, to only three in the first half.

The Huskies also have let no one come easy to the basket with five blocks, including one from Brittany Hunter halfway through the first half, which led Hunter to pose and stare down her victim uner the basket.

The Mountaineers leading scorer is forward Chakhia Cole with seven points.

In the second half, the Huskies should continue the dismantling of the No. 16 team in the nation. If West Virginia wants to make it a game again, they will have to start defending, something head coach Mike Carey surely stressed in the locker room.


Moore on fire, Huskies are too

STORRS, Conn. -- With the shot clock ticking down to zero, Huskies forward Maya Moore stepped up to the three-point line and made a three like it was the pregame shoot-around.

Minutes before, Moore rose up above a defender in her face and drained another three-pointer, and continues to display her talents though a little more than 13 games under her belt as a collegiate athlete.

Moore is beating the Mountaineers by herself with 16 points with two minutes left in the half, where West Virginia seemed to still be searching for how to match up against the Huskies on both sides of the ball.

Near the end of the half, the score is UConn 41, West Virginia 15.

West Virginia has a mountain to climb

STORRS, Conn. -- After a 13-0 run by the Huskies to start the game, West Virginia head coach Mike Carey took a step onto the court, screaming at his players to box out in the paint and play better defense.

Good luck against a UConn team that, so far, is running on all cylinders.

After a hard take to the basket by Mountaineers center Olayinka Sanni, Carey was furious after a foul wasn't called on Huskies center Tina Charles. He then let the referee knew what was on his mind.

Nine minutes into the game, the Huskies are the obvious aggressor, especially in the paint, where Charles already has three rebounds for a UConn team that has all the momentum so far.

Maya Moore leads all scorers with nine points, and is one point away from her 14th consecutive game in double-figures.

Halfway through the first half, UConn leads West Virginia 27-5.

Huskies looking to continue dominance, face first Big East test

STORRS, Conn. -- There aren't many teams in college basketball that can boast back-to-back 50-point victories on the road, but that's what No. 1 UConn is on the heels of coming into tonight's game against No. 16 West Virginia.

The Huskies (13-0, 1-0 Big East) host the Mountaineers (11-2, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.

Against Villanova and Purdue, the Huskies scored a combined 188 points in the two contests -- hitting the century mark against the Boilermakers, who were taken out on national television. The defeat was the worst in Purdue's history.

What may go overlooked in the recent offensive onslaughts is the play of the UConn defense, which held the Boilermakers without a field goal during the game's first 11 minutes.

That same effort will be needed against the Mountaineers, who come into the game with eight out of their 11 wins by 20 or more points.

However, those wins are against the likes of less successful programs such as St. Francis (Pa.) and Presbyterian. West Virginia's two losses came against then-No. 1 Tennessee -- a 67-49 at home Nov. 21 -- and at Indiana Dec. 22, where the Mountaineers fell 79-66.

West Virginia won it's Big East opener 79-73 Jan. 5 in a close game over South Florida. In that game, reserve Sparkle Davis and starting center Olayinka Sanni scored 22 and 23 points, respectively. The duo combined to go 18 for 24 from the field.

Sanni leads the Mountaineers with 17.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Along with Sanni, two other players -- Meg Bulger and LaQuita Owens -- average in double figures with 14.7 and 12.7, respectively.

But the sweet taste of a conference victory was soon met with bitterness when the Mountaineers realized the caliber of basketball that the No. 1 ranked team in the nation is playing.

A match-up to watch will be in the paint between 6-foot-2 Sanni, who was named a unanimous pick to the preseason all-Big East team, and UConn's 6-foot-4 center Tina Charles.

If their match-up between the two in UConn's 63-45 win over the Mountaineers last season repeats itself, Charles and Sanni will be in close competition, as each scored 13 points with Charles coming out on top in the rebound category with 13 to Sanni's seven.

Thanks in part to Charles, the Huskies have been dominant in the paint so far this season holding a 580-194 advantage through 13 games.

Since No. 2 Tennessee lost the crown when they fell to Stanford 73-69 in overtime Dec. 22, UConn embraced its move to the top with four wins by at least 46 points each.

Just as the Huskies are rolling, so is freshman Maya Moore.

Moore has continued to impress this season, scoring in double figures in all 13 games, which is a school record for most to open a career, which lead many to believe that her freshman season could top those of former UConn stars such as Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.

Through her last four games, Moore is averaging 14.3 points.

The rest of the UConn offense is clicking at the right time as well, as conference play is just beginning. Following tonight's game against the Mountaineers, the Huskies travel to Louisville and Syracuse before hosting Cincinnati Jan. 19.

Four Huskies average at or near double-digit scoring -- Moore, Charles, Renee Montgomery, and Mel Thomas. The most astounding number that jumps out, however, is UConn's rebounding margin -- 17.7 over their opponents.

NOTES:

The Huskies will still be without guard Kalana Greene, who will be missing her 6th game with an ACL tear that occurred Dec. 17 against South Carolina.

West Virginia will be one of three strong teams in Big East play this season for the Huskies, who face No. 4 Rutgers and No. 14 Notre Dame a combined three times throughout the season.

January 06, 2008

An LA Story

The last time Stanford lost back-to-back Pac-10 games while in LA was in the 1993-94 season. History repeated itself this weekend as a new LA story was written thanks to a 73-72 win by USC.

"It’s such a big win, part of the reason is because I have so much respect for (Stanford coach) Tara VanDerveer as she is an awesome coach," said USC coach Mark Trakh who has never beaten a Stanford team in his 15 years of coaching at the Division I level. "I think this is why this means so much. Stanford is the benchmark for all of us. We are all reaching to be like Stanford."

Helping to make this LA story so exciting was the game-winning bucket by junior guard Camille LeNoir with eight seconds left and then fifth-year senior Allison Jaskowiak-Kennedy stopping a last-second shot by Stanford's senior Candice Wiggins. After the final buzzer sounded, it was an emotional scene on the court.

"I wasn't thinking of anything as the play was supposed to go to (junior) Nadia Parker, but she wasn't open so we set another pick-n-roll screen," described LeNoir. "I just let it go and it went in. I've never jumped this high in my life with my two bad hips."

From the USC team celebrating one of the biggest upsets of the year and Stanford suffering its first back-to-back conference loss on the road since the 2003-04 season when they lost at the Arizona schools, history was made in the Galen Center today.

"I thought we did a much better job this afternoon than Friday night against UCLA," said VanDerveer. "Credit USC, they made big plays when they needed to. We did not do a good job from the three-point line or the free-throw line. We did a great job rebounding (38) and took care of the ball. We played hard enough to win, but had some defensive breakdowns that hurt us and I thought they made a lot of big shots."

Helping USC hold on and win today was their ability to never let Stanford get too far ahead or make too much of a run during the game. The most Stanford led at any point in the game was five points and each time USC came through with clutch shots to keep it close.

"Both teams were scoring on each other and it was a matter of who was going to have the ball last," said Trakh. "(Sophomore) Jayne Appel was a monster down there and really had no answer for her or (freshman) Kayla Pedersen. This is big for us as if we want any NCAA [Tournament] consideration at the end of the year, we needed to win."

Unlike the last time USC and Stanford met during the Pac-10 women's tournament last March when Wiggins had a career and conference tournament record-breaking night by hitting eight three-point shots, it was the Women of Troy who were deadly from three-point land. USC hit 57.9% of their three-point shots while Stanford struggled from outside the arch by shooting 15%. In addition, USC also edged Stanford out at the free-throw line by
connecting on 57.1% of their shots as opposed to Stanford's 55% shooting from the line.

The big shot at the end by LeNoir capped off her team-leading 21 points for the night. Meanwhile sophomore Heather Oliver chipped-in with 13 points of her own and Parker rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12. USC's bench contributed with a total of 12 points.

"Obviously everybody wearing cardinal and gold is happy tonight," said Trakh.

Meanwhile for Stanford it was Appel who paced the Cardinal with 22 points and 11 boards. Wiggins finished with 17 points while Pac-10 Freshman of the Year candidate Pedersen finished with 14 points of her own. Stanford's bench only accounted for five points, all by sophomore Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

USC will travel to the Washington schools next weekend with their current 9-6 and 2-2 Pac-10 records while Stanford gets to stay home to host the Oregon schools with their new 12-3 and 2-2 Pac-10 records.

That's it from LA where history was made all over town this weekend.

And the winner is...

USC 73-72...

OH MY...

Stay tuned...post-game report to come...

Alli J is in da house!

This game is far from over thanks to a nice three-pointer just hit by USC's Allison Jaskowiak-Kennedy.

Stanford is only ahead by two, but there's 1:31 left and the Trojans are heating things up.

It's 71-69 so it's far from being over.

Stay tuned...

Nothing against nothing

There's seven minutes left here and Stanford is up by one, 56-55.

Neither team is playing with a lot of confidence today and it is showing. From half-hearted and rushed shots to poor shooting percentages (neither team is shooting better than 50%). It's as if the gloom from outside has come inside to the Galen Center.

If I could sneak down to each bench and pass out some chocolate to give each team some energy I would as each team needs a shot of something to get something going before the final buzzer.

Stay tuned, something exciting has to happen here soon...

It's wacky out here in the west...

So who would've thought that UCLA would beat Stanford on Friday night and then take Cal to overtime and lose in the final minute on Sunday?

Meanwhile here at the Galen Center USC is now up 48-43 in the second half and this could be another legendary game in the making.

Stay tuned...

Wow, wow, wow...

It's halftime and we are all tied up here at the Galen Center.

USC's LeNoir is leading the Trojans with 13 points and Appel is leading Stanford with 10...

It's 32 all and time for a break.

Be back soon.

Live From Downtown LA!

The only background setting better than mine here at the Galen Center of the downtown LA skyline would be an ocean view in the background.

Believe me, I'm not complaining as there is a dog fight of a game going on between these two teams.

After our last time out Wiggins just uncharacteristically missed two free-throws and USC could not find the bucket on their last possession so we are still tied up. Yet as time ticks away, USC is now the team on top at 31-28 as we head into halftime.

Stay tuned...

Dodge Ball

Cal just avoided one upset for the day as they were able to squeek by UCLA 73-70 in overtime.

Stanford may not have the same good fortune.

USC has come back and after enjoying a momentary lead, Stanford has tied up the score at 26. Considering that USC is out rebounding Stanford 8-6 and hitting their shots from three-point land (Stanford hasn't hit a single three), forget the game in the middle, this one could be decided from the outer limits of the three-point arch.

Stay tuned...

Upsetting news

Just heard that UCLA and Cal are in overtime over at Pauley Pavilion. If the Bruins can pull off a second upset of the weekend here in LA, the Pac-10 needs to start a coach of the week honors with Kathy Olivier as the first.

Meanwhile Stanford is now on top 24-21 here with seven minutes to play. Still lots of time, but if Wiggins gets hot with her shot this game will be uglier than LA traffic during Storm Watch 2008 (hint: us Angelenos can't drive in the rain very well because we don't see rain enough to know how to drive in it).

Who's in control?

It's six minutes into the game here at the Galen Center and neither team seems ready to take control of the game.

USC has a slight edge on Stanford with their 43% shooting from the field (Stanford is shooting a mere 38%), but with the score tied at 8, this could be a lot closer than expected.

Stay tuned...

I Love LA

We've still got a good 20+ minutes to go but with the curtains open on the north side of the Galen Center, it's a surreal feeling here today. With the curtains open one can see the downtown LA skyline up against a grey sky background and palm trees in the foreground. It's rare to have the curtains open during a game here, but pretty stunning none-the-less.

Just another reason why LA rocks.

Forecast: Good Game

It's overcast and dreary outside of the Galen Center on USC's campus today, but with tip-off between visiting Stanford (12-2, 2-1 Pac-10) and home team USC (8-6, 1-2 Pac-10) coming up, things are about to look a lot brighter in this part of town.

Stanford is coming off one of the most shocking losses of the year in women's college basketball. After getting handed their first conference loss at USC's cross-town rival UCLA on Friday night, it is still TBD whether or not the entire Cardinal team has found their mojo (energy) on the court during their day off. Players that should have a big game this afternoon for Stanford include CSTV.com Wade Watch Candidate Candice Wiggins who had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Jayne Appel with 17 points and eight rebounds against UCLA.

Meanwhile home team USC is getting ready to face their third consecutive ranked opponent this afternoon. The Trojans are on a two-game losing streak after falling to No. 10 Cal on Friday night 57-52, and No. 24 Arizona State 66-63 last weekend when conference play started, so a win against Stanford would help take some of the sting off these recent losses. Players to watch on this Trojan team that has been plagued with injury problems for too many years now include Nadia Parker (11.8 ppg), Camille LeNoir (10.4 ppg) and Morghan Medlock (8.4 ppg).

Stay tuned, we're waiting out the warm-ups...

January 04, 2008

A Legendary Night

UCLA has never in the history of its women's basketball program beaten a team ranked higher than No. 4. Yet considering that the Bruins play in the legendary Pauley Pavilion where John Wooden's success is immortalized, it's no surprise to see the women's program enjoy a legend making moment of their own.

That night was tonight as the unranked UCLA Bruins not just edged out, but solidly beat No. 2-ranked Stanford 69-56.

"This was a very good win for our program and I think our non-conference schedule prepared us for a team like Stanford," said UCLA coach Kathy Olivier. "Our team is fearless and out to play anyone. We are going to be ready for anyone."

The fearlessness of this UCLA team was seen early on when the Bruins enjoyed an 11-point lead twice in the first half. Yet instead of falling behind and letting their opponent make a run on them (as what Maryland did late in the second half), the Bruins stayed strong and shook off the Cardinal coming within four points both at the end of the first half.

"I thought our team did a great job of staying focused for 40 minutes," said Olivier. "We played for 40 minutes and when we do this, we can play against good people."

Part of UCLA being able to stay focused is the balanced attack of scoring and rebounding from all players on the court. UCLA was led by freshman Darxia Morris with 20 points and senior Lindsey Pluimer with 13. Yet when all players except one scored tonight and everyone who saw playing action grabbed at least one rebound, it was this team effort that enabled them to get the win.

"I think our team was sick of playing with teams at the top and not being able to finish," said Pluimer. "We learned from those games and you could tell at the end that we were slowing the ball down, using the clock and being patient which came from the Maryland and Tennessee games."

Despite getting within reaching distance many times during the game, Stanford's struggles were painfully obvious as their energy level was not where it should have been and not putting in a team effort for the night.

"We had trouble defensively and didn’t have the energy we needed as a team," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "I was very disappointed overall with our team effort and we missed an incredible number of point-blank shots and free throws. I thought we rebounded well and had a lot of good opportunities, just didn’t knock them down."

Stanford was led by senior Candice Wiggins and her 29 points and 10 rebounds and sophomore Jayne Appel with 17 points and eight rebounds.

"It's hard to explain a game like this," said Wiggins. "We knew what to expect and that they were a great team who had played great teams close and they are very good at home. Unfortunately bad shooting and getting in the hole early, we were unable to fight out of this one."

Knock-off!

That's it, UCLA has knocked-off No. 2 Stanford 69-56.

Post game wrap-up to come...

Upsetting situation

There's less than a minute left and UCLA is up 67-56.

Stanford is forcing shots and making bad decisions which are two good signs that they are going down to this unranked UCLA team that has been unpredictable for the last month.

Stay tuned...

Crunch time

There's three minutes left and Stanford may be in trouble.

UCLA is up 63-54 and with the Cardinal shooting touch only being luke warm at 32.8%, we may have an upset brewing here at UCLA.

Stay tuned...

It's Wiggins' World

Candice Wiggins just scored a nice lay-up on a fast-break pass and now has 21 points for the game.

I am guessing that she finishes with at least 30 points which will give her a second 30-point game.

In addition, she's getting hotter as the game goes on. With Wiggins' last three-pointer, the Cardinal are back in this by only being down seven with seven minutes to go.

Seeing her score either from NBA three-point land or under control on a fast-break reminds me that out west it is Wiggins' world and we are all just watching.

Stay tuned...

Now is the time!!!

Not sure if that is exactly what Wiggins just said to her teammates as they returned to the floor from their second time out of the half, but the expression on her face tells me that it was something along those lines as she was trying to fire up her teammates to get back in this game.

Stanford needs to find their mojo real quick here if they are going to walk away winners tonight.

UCLA on the other hand is saying the same thing, but in a much more positive light as they are trying to preserve their 13-point lead.

There's a lot of time left, so stay tuned...

UCLA 50
Stanford 37

And we're back...

We're not even two minutes into the second half and Stanford has taken a time out. Considering that UCLA has come out of halftime on fire and regained a 10-point lead, I'm not surprised to see Stanford using a time out to cool off the Bruins.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 44
Stanford 34

Not the halftime score expected

It's 38-34 and UCLA is still in the lead.

Granted, this is not the halftime score that I think ANYONE expected, but that's the reality of this wet and wacky night here in LA.

Stanford is being paced by Wiggins and her 16 points (which include two three-pointers) and Jayne Appel's 13 points. On the boards, the Cardinal's Jillian Harmon is leading the way with eight and Appel with five.

UCLA is led by Darxia Morris' 11 points and Chinyere Ibekwe's four boards.

The secret to UCLA's success of the first half, solid shooting. The Bruins are shooting 48.3% from the field which is edging out Stanford's 40.5% shooting from the field.

For our halftime entertainment we have two pee-wee girls basketball teams making their debut here at Pauley Pavilion. Makes me remember the good old days of when all I needed was basketball and water to live on.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 38
Stanford 34

Honing in!

That's the only way to describe the three-point shot just made by Stanford's JJ Hones. She was so focused and in control of her shot that there was no way she was going to miss it.

UCLA's lead had now been cut to four points as we head into halftime.

Stay tuned, halftime report to come...

Pouring it on

Usually the only thing I like to watch being poured on is hot fudge on top of ice cream.

However, since there is no ice cream to be found and it's game time, the only thing being poured on is the points by UCLA. That's right, the unranked Bruins have built a healthy 21-12 lead on Stanford at the halfway point of the first half.

The Cardinal are shooting a dismal 26.7% while the Bruins are pouring it on with their 58.3% shooting from the field. Not helping the Stanford fight to stay No. 2 in the country is the seven turnovers that they have now committed. Helping add some emphasis to these turnovers is the UCLA band chanting "We're No. 1 in turnovers!" Gotta love the band (especailly since they are directly behind me and I get to hear every smart remark coming from this peanut gallery).

Stay tuned...

What's hot and cold

It's so chilly here in LA tonight that I actually wore a scarf and heavy coat to brave the rain (yes, that means it is below 65 here).

However the only thing in LA that is chilly is the temperature outside as the UCLA Bruins are playing pretty hot during the opening minutes.

UCLA is now up 9-4 and with Staford's Appel just getting called for a traveling violation in the paint and Kayla Pedersen missing her first two free-throws it's taking a while for the Cardinal to warm up.

Stay tuned...

Cardinal Storm into LA

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Storm watch 2008 is in effect here in Los Angeles this weekend because of heavy rain that is expected.

The same could also be said in the world of women's college basketball as Stanford storms into town for games against UCLA tonight and USC on Sunday afternoon.

First things first as the Bruins host the No. 2-ranked Cardinal in 30 minutes.

Stanford comes to LA riding a nine-game win streak that is highlighted by their upset of then No. 1-ranked Tennessee (73-69 (ot)) on December 22.

It should come as no surprise that the Cardinal are led by senior Candice Wiggins (aka Superwoman of the West) with 17.5 ppg. On the boards for the Cardinal it is one of the freshmen on the team Kayla Pedersen with 8.9 rpg. Yet with other players such as sophomore Jayne Appel, junior Jillian Harmon and sophomore Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, the Cardinal are ready to pour it on from all over the court.

UCLA on the other side continues to struggle. Ever since losing to No. 3 Maryland in November, the Bruins are hoping that the new year will bring more wins than losses their way. UCLA finished the month of December with a 3-5 record. The Bruins are led by senior Lindsey Pluimer (13.9 ppg and 7.5 rbg). Freshmen that have made their presence known early in their career include Regina 'Gigi' Rogers, Nina Earl and Doreena Campbell.

Stanford seems unstoppable right now, but the Bruins would love to start off the year with an upset of their own.

Stay tuned...