In its closest and most competitive game of the season, the No. 6 Stanford (10-1) women’s basketball team upset No. 3 Tennessee (10-1) on Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion to hand the Lady Volunteers their first loss of the season. The Card led for the majority of the game, but let up a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining in the game to allow the Lady Vols to come within two points of a 0-9 run with just one minute on the clock. Stanford came out on top, however, beating Tennessee for the third straight time ever 76-70.
National player of the year candidate senior Chiney Ogwumike posted the first 30-point, 20-rebound game of her career with 32 points and a season-high 20 rebounds. Several of junior point guard Amber Orrange’s five assists were to set up Ogwumike. Orrange also finished the game with nine points.
“[The game] was officiated very well. It was a competitive basketball game, people were attacking the rim,” Ogwumike told GoStanford.com. “It was physical, but in the way that basketball should be. I’ll take those games; they allow you to be aggressive.”
Freshman guard Lili Thompson was one of only three Cardinal players to reach double digits in scoring with a career-high 14 points, and three three-pointers.
“She [Thompson] played with tremendous confidence and took care of the ball,” head coach Tara VanDerveer told GoStanford.com. “We’re not winning without Lili’s great play. Lili’s not a freshman for us. She’s very poised, made big shots, made great defensive plays.”
Taylor Greenfield, who returned three games ago from injury, was the third high-scoring player of the game, contributing a season-high 11 points. She was 3-5 from the three-point line, including one buzzer beater that sent the Card into halftime with a 37-29 lead. Stanford shot 63.6 percent (7-for-11) from behind the arc Saturday; it’s best single-game 3-point field-goal percentage of the season.
“Taylor’s threes were huge for us; we’ve really missed her,” VanDerveer told GoStanford.com. “We’ve been searching for a ‘3’ player that can knock down the threes, and Taylor’s been out.”
Four Tennessee players scored in double-digits. The only other time that many players have scored in double digits against the Card was in Stanford’s first game of the regular season against Boston College.
Tennessee, typically a rebounding powerhouse, wasn’t able to beat Stanford on the boards, falling three short of the Card — making it the first game this season that the Lady Vols were outrebounded. Offensive rebounds are what typically get Tennessee opponents in trouble, but Stanford kept the visitor’s second- chance points to just 24. The Lady Vols did manage to grab two more offensive boards than Stanford and tied the Card with 14 turnovers. Ultimately, Stanford was able to capitalize off Tennessee’s mistakes, scoring 22 points off turnovers.
However, the Lady Vols held the Cardinal without a field goal for 4:26 to end the second half while making their nine-point run that cut the Cardinal lead to two and forced VanDerveer to call a timeout.
“The game was getting close, but so did the last game at Tennessee,” Ogwumike told GoStanford.com. “We just had to stick to what we knew. Coach was calling a great game plan, so we just needed to trust the offense, trust the system, and everything would end up alright. And we have Amber Orrange, which helps, too.”
Orrange came through with a crucial three-point play and the defense made a pair of stops while redshirt senior Mikaela Ruef and Ogwumike added free throws to make it 76-68 with six seconds to play.
The Card proved its ability to stay poised under pressure against a top-five team when it needed to most. Ogwumike did her job in leading the Card, but support from players such as Orrange, Thompson, Ruef and Greenfield made the narrow win feasible.
The Card return to action Dec. 28 for its final non-conference game of the season against Fresno State.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.