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January 19, 2013Five days after losing its first Pac-12 conference game in roughly four years, the Stanford women's basketball bounced back with a relatively drama-free 75-49 victory over visiting UCLA.
After a slow start, the Cardinal was buoyed by a 32-13 run that spanned parts of the first and second half, and led by double digits for the entire second period.
"Stanford's known for sometimes getting knocked down and coming back really hard," UCLA forward Alyssia Brewer said. "That's what they showed tonight."
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer was glad to see her team move on from last Sunday's loss to Cal, which ended the Card's 81-game conference winning streak.
"This was a really big win for us," VanDerveer said. "UCLA is obviously a top ranked team. They're big, they're physical, they're athletic. I was really proud of how our team battled. I think we saw our team learn from our last game and I was really excited about that."
Here's our takeaways from the Card's much-needed win over the Bruins.
Orange red-hot: Stanford point guard Amber Orrange was a dynamic force on both offense and defense for Stanford. She scored 15 points on 7-10 shooting, recorded five steals, and was the architect behind one of the Card's highest scoring output in Pac-12 play, and the catalyst for Stanford's stingy defensive effort.
"She had a great game," VanDerveer said. "I thought the biggest key to the game was how Amber broke people down of the dribble. She hit her shot. I thought she attacked very well."
Added forward Chiney Ogwumike, often the beneficiary of Orrange's frequent penetration:
"She starts our offense and she leads our defense with pressure on the ball," Ogwumike said.
Keyed by aggression: Ogwumike wasn't too shabby herself, scoring 25 points on 10-15 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds. Much of her offensive output came as the result of aggressive movement and passing by the guards, which allowed Ogwumike to set up camp in the low block and display her dazzling array of post moves.
"I think these last couple of games we kind of realized that (being aggressive) was an area where we needed to step up," Stanford guard Sara James said. "We focused on it a lot in practice this week and I think we showed a big improvement today."
The Card's aggressiveness paved the way for the team's superior ball movement. Stanford has 17 assists to UCLA's six.
It also helped Stanford achieve a higher level of offensive efficiency. After shooting 19.3 percent from the field against UConn and 29.7 percent against Cal, the Cardinal shot 52.9 percent against the Bruins.
Defense clamps down: Stanford's defense held one of the most efficient offensive teams in the conference to a season-low in field goal percentage (31.4 percent). UCLA did miss some open shots, but the Card also clogged up the passing lanes (Stanford forced 19 turnovers), and pressured Bruins players into taking bad shots.
"I think our team has really focused a lot on scouting report and trying really hard to take away people's strengths, not letting them do what they like to do," VanDerveer said. "Really working hard to force shots that they're not comfortable with."
Multiple contributions: In contrast to Stanford teams of past years, the 2012-2013 edition of the Cardinal really only has one consistent, dominating scorer: Chiney Ogwumike. As a result, there is greater pressure on Stanford's bench and role players to be more productive on a consistent basis.
The production of Sara James, who finished with seven points and three rebounds, and to a lesser extend Bonnie Samuleson (three points) and Mikaela Ruef (three points, three assists, five rebounds) helped ease the burden on Ogwumike and the team's other big-minute starters.
"Sara started us out making some nice plays going to the basket," VanDerVeer said. "A lot of people contributed and did what we asked them to do. I thought we competed and that was nice to see."
VanDerveer hopes that the supporting cast continues to play at a high level, and gives the coaching staff more personnel options moving forward.
"We really want to expand our rotation and be aggressive and hold each other accountable by doing the right thing," VanDerveer said.