As one of the top programs in the country, Stanford women’s basketball was expected to take care of business when taking on Div. II Corban University, but Thursday night’s matchup at Maples Pavilion might have been comparable to the WNBA Sparks playing Palo Alto High as Stanford took its first exhibition game of the season 117-33.
Corban started the game with the energy and excitement that should accompany a matchup against such a notable team. However, its confidence quickly waned as the Cardinal’s domination became too much to handle. Corban shot only 27 percent from the field and tallied 28 turnovers.
It was clear from the start that this year’s Cardinal squad was eager to start the season and establish authority in its top-five ranking. This is the fifth consecutive season that Stanford has started the season ranked in the top five.
Stanford’s starting five comprised of sophomores Taylor Greenfield and Amber Orrange, juniors Chiney Ogwumike and Sara James and senior Joslyn Tinkle, did not include one of last season’s major contributors and starters, Junior Toni Kokenis, who wasn’t feeling well and did not see action in last night’s game. The rest of the team was able to earn plenty of playing time, and the crowd was introduced to freshmen Tess Picknell (eight rebounds), Kiran Lakhian (three points) and Denia Ebersole (1-1 free throws). After sustaining injuries early last season and missing the majority of the year, Mikaela Ruef and Jasmine Camp were also able to get their game legs back underneath them with four assists each.
Coach Tara VanDerveer noted the importance of getting lots of different players more experience early in the season.
“There were a lot of young people who had a chance to get on the court, like our freshman,” VanDerveer said. “But we also had a lot of people out with injuries [last year], like Jasmine Camp and Mikaela Ruef, that really needed to just get a uniform back on. I think a lot of people played really well, so it’s about getting confidence. I like playing in front of the crowd and just getting the bugs out.”
The Card took advantage of Corban’s passive defense and lit it up behind the three-point line, shooting an impressive 56 percent from the perimeter. Sophomore forward Bonnie Samuelson led the team with 27 points, 23 of which came from three pointers, and seven rebounds off the bench. Stanford’s shooting ace from last season shot 7-for-12 from behind the arc and was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
“It felt awesome,” Samuelson said. “I got a lot of shots off in the offseason and I’m ready for the pressure. My coaches have a lot of confidence in me so that makes me confident [in my shooting]. If they need me to go in for a few minutes, I’m in there and I’ll knock down a shot or stay in there a little longer. I would love to do that.”
It was evident early on that Ogwumike was the target of Corban’s defense as foul after foul was committed against her. Ogwumike, however, maintained her composure and continued to play aggressively on both ends of the court. She finished her first game of the season with 12 points and seven rebounds in only 16 minutes of game action.
VanDerveer emphasized earlier last week the leadership position that Tinkle would have to assume in order for the team to be successful this season. Tinkle filled that role immediately at the start of the game with Stanford’s first basket of the season, playing 17 minutes but contributing 15 points and four rebounds.
The confidence and energy that Tinkle brought to the court was contagious, as Cardinal players hustled all over the court and dove for loose balls up until the end of the game. The speed and quick hands of Orrange were displayed with eight early steals, as she turned in a well-rounded game with 10 points, three rebounds and seven assists.
Orrange and her fellow sophomores are expected to contribute greatly to this young Stanford squad and did not disappoint last night.
“Chiney and Joslyn, I know what to expect from them because I’ve coached them for so many years,” VanDerveer said. “But I thought Amber played really well, her defense got us going. Bonnie came in and I know she can make her shots, and she did, like last year. And Sara looked so much more improved than last year.”
James was the second-leading scorer in the game, with 24 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
The Cardinal has another exhibition game this Saturday at 2 p.m., when it will host Vangaurd University.