Seniors Beat Down Beavers

Stanford's seniors completed their first perfect season at home Saturday against Oregon State (6-22, 1-17). The Cardinal (26-2, 17-1) emerged victorious for the 17th consecutive time, smacking the Beavers 84-41 at Maples. It was an emotional Maples finale for the seniors, but a successful one that caps off an incredible regular season.

As the Saturday afternoon tilt was the seniors' last game at Maples, the game started with a tribute to the five senior Cardinal. Fifth-year senior Susan King Borchardt and seniors Kelley Suminski, T'Nae Thiel, Sebnem Kimyacioglu and Azella Perryman each received flowers from the coaching staff and standing ovations from the audience in a presentation that immediately proceed the tip. The tribute to the seniors turned to be a highly emotional affair, bringing many players, coaches, and fans alike to tears. In honor of senior night, head coach Tara VanDerveer opted for a senior-laden starting lineup, starting Borchardt, Suminski, Kimyacioglu, Perryman and redshirt sophomore center Brooke Smith.

Once the game tipped, the Cardinal easily shifted their focus to the court and dispensed of the Beavers in a calm, business-like fashion. Stanford started the game shooting 6-of-7 from the field and built an initial 15-1 lead. The Card played great defense in the first half, not allowing a field goal for the first five minutes, yielding Oregon State's leading scorer Shannon Howell only three points in the first stanza, and holding the Beaver squad to 21% shooting (6-of-28) in the opening twenty minutes. This defensive performance powered the Cardinal to a 44-14 locker-room lead.

The second half started much the way the first half concluded as Stanford built their halftime lead into a 63-20 margin. Stanford's reserves then entered and would see most of the playing time in the latter portion of the game. Nine Cardinal would finish the game with over fifteen minutes, with sophomore center Kristen Newlin notching nine points and a season-high twelve rebounds in a team-leading 26 minutes. Over the last 12 minutes, Newlin and her teammates off the bench played the Beavers essentially even and Stanford coasted to the 84-41 final margin.

Despite not starting the game and playing only 19 minutes in the contest, freshman Candice Wiggins led all Cardinal scorers with 20 points. Three other Cardinal notched double-digits: Smith scored 14 on 5-of-7 shooting; Suminski's 3-of-4 three-point shooting helped her towards 12 points; and, in addition to forcing five turnovers, Kimyacioglu netted 11.

On the game Stanford shot 53% overall, bolstered by a first-half where the Card shot 58% both from the field (17-of-29) and from beyond the arc (7-of-12).

Stanford's last loss came on December 29, 2004, when the Oregon Ducks upset the Cardinal 62-58 in Eugene. Since that defeat a calendar year ago, Stanford has won 17 games in a row, by an average of 23.6 points. The Card are shooting 50.6% (498-of-985) on their streak and an even more impressive 52.1% (446-of-856) in their last fifteen. While this offensive performance is certainly laudable, the defense has performed even more impressively as of late, allowing an average of 43 points in the weekend series.

If Stanford can continue this dominance another nine consecutive games, the Cardinal will end their 2004-2005 season cutting down nets in Indianapolis. Whether or not this scenario becomes reality depends largely on the health of the Cardinal. Freshman guard Cissy Pierce did recover from her flu in time for Saturday's game, so senior forward T'Nae Thiel (fractured bone in left foot) and freshmen forwards Jessica Elway (broken hand) and Christy Titchenal (stress reaction) now stand as the only Cardinal still waiting to return this season. All three forwards have a timetable of approximately three weeks, and the staff is expressing confidence that the trio, Thiel especially, will be ready for the NCAA Tournament.

Complete game box score

Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM.  Daniel welcomes any feedback at dannovi@stanford.edu.


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