Pride, Disappointment at Season's End

Denied a sixth chance at the Final Four, the Cardinal find consolation in their record and team leaders.

May/June 2013

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Pride, Disappointment at Season's End

Photo: Don Feria/

A terrific but frustrating, memorable but haunting women's basketball streak ended with a 61-59 loss to Georgia in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament. The defeat halted Stanford's run toward a record sixth straight trip to the Final Four, leaving the Cardinal with a 33-3 record and yet another set of flashbacks about coming oh-so-close.

Stanford got out ahead 9-0 against the Lady Bulldogs, fell behind 22-21, led 34-27 at the half, was up 42-34 with less than 12 minutes to play and had a 55-54 edge with 2:27 left. But three missed layups and other miscues coincided with clutch baskets by Georgia, which moved in front 60-56, leaving Stanford without enough time for all the miracle plays it needed.

In her opening remarks at Stanford's postgame news conference (as posted on, Coach Tara VanDerveer conceded, "Quite honestly, I think that we had our chances and we didn't make some plays down the stretch." But she also stressed the pride she felt in the team's overall accomplishments and the leadership provided by junior Chiney Ogwumike, one of the country's dominant players, and senior Joslyn Tinkle, the team's next best scorer and rebounder.

Tinkle went into the tournament a veteran of three of the five consecutive Final Four squads that failed to capture a national championship despite that sustained level of excellence. Playing with extra emotion in her final game at Maples Pavilion, Tinkle poured in five three-point shots and led all scorers with 21 points to help beat Michigan and advance to play Georgia.

"We wanted it badly," Tinkle said of the Georgia game, in which she was limited to five points. "We fought hard. But Georgia wanted it just as bad."

Talking about Tinkle in the postgame conference, Ogwumike described her graduating teammate as "my twin. We always do things together." Tinkle's legacy, said Ogwumike, isn't in the stats. "She brings a beautiful essence to women's basketball and our program. I mean, it just shows that you can leave an impact just by being you."

The challenge going forward remains the ability to overcome adversity, whether it's the lingering sting of falling short in a six-year chain of ultimate games or the inevitable hurdles to clawing into position for another showdown on the national stage.

"Losses are tough," Ogwumike said. "I mean, you just have to use them as motivation. I think the reason why I'm not going ballistic right now is like, we are 33-3. . . . I think that's the one thing I'm hanging onto. We worked our butts off this year."

Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike's team-oriented playing style was conspicuous, but her own skills still garnered elite individual recognition.

1. She was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press, making her and former Stanford star Nneka Ogwumike, '12, the first sisters to be All-Americans.

2. She was voted the Pacific-12 Conference player of the year and the Pac-12 defensive player of the year (for the second time).

3. Her 2012-13 rebounds and rebound average (466 and 12.9) established single-season Stanford records; her points and scoring average (805 and 22.4) fell just short of overtaking Nneka's single-season marks (809 and 22.5).

4. She was named Pac-12 player of the week a record number of times (6) within a season.

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