Gonzaga's women's basketball team knew it would have its hands full Sunday with top-ranked Stanford's stars, Chiney Ogwumike, Joslyn Tinkle and Amber Orrange. The Bulldogs couldn't have prepared for the career-high six 3-pointers and 18 points unleased by sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield. Stanford won going away, 69-41 at McCarthey Athletic Center. Read more
Sunday's surprise star for Stanford, sophomore forward Taylor Greenfield, finished 6 for 8 on 3-pointers. She thanked the Cardinal point guards for getting her the ball.
“(They) would push it and look up. We’d beat the defense and get behind them and I just had open shots,” said the 6-foot-3 player from Huxley, Iowa.
Greenfield, who hit four 3-pointers during a 6-minute span of the first half, knew she was in a groove.
“It really helps when the first two or three go in, then I’m more confident,” she said. “And it helps also to have a team that’s completely confident in your shot. They want you to shoot it and they set you up for shots. I got great screens and great passes.
Greenfield said she often gets open because rivals have to focus on tremendous junior forward Chiney Ogwumike, who came in averaging 20.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.
Ogwumike said she knew early on to expect a rough-and-tumble game.
“They were just trying to be really physical,” said the Cypress, Texas, native. “Obviously, it’s not who guards me, it’s the way they do it. I knew they were going to try to double (team). The first play I realized that … so I thought, 'OK, I can’t dribble too much unless I’m facing the basket.' ”
Ogwumike said tough defense is nothing new from the Bulldogs.
“They’ve always been defensive-oriented, it’s just that their offense was super stellar in the past,” she said.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, 717-149 with the Cardinal and 869-200 overall in her coaching career, said she wants to continue to play at Gonzaga.
“Honestly, we love the atmosphere and honestly, I wish it was like this every place we play,” she said. … “We also have a great atmosphere at Stanford, so I think maybe some of our people thought they were just at home.”
VanDerveer was understanding about the attention paid to the family matchup between Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle and Gonzaga freshman Elle Tinkle.
“I really think this game meant a lot to Joss,” she said. “Elle has other years, (but) this is Joss’ senior year. What I told our team was, 'Hey, this is bragging rights in your family for life.' ”
Gonzaga senior Taelor Karr, one of two Zags in double figures, said her team just couldn't get its offense going.
“I think it was all in our heads,” said the guard from Paola, Kan. “We just didn’t come out and execute. Give Stanford a lot of credit. They’re a great team. They’re the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason. But I think, honestly, it wasn’t like they pressured us out of our sets. We just didn’t execute offensively and couldn’t hit shots. (It was) just one of those days when we struggled.”
Karr said Greenfield wasn't a complete unknown for the Bulldogs.
“We knew she was a shooter, we knew she had quick release, and that she could go off at any minute,” she said. “We just had breakdowns on defense and gave her too good of looks and she made us pay for it.”
GU coach Kelly Graves tried to focus on some positives from the game.
“I’m a little disappointed, obviously, in how we played,” said Graves, who is 0-5 against the Cardinal. “You circle these kind of games on your schedule before the season. I wouldn’t say we laid an egg. I thought we did some good things tonight, but unfortunately we just picked the wrong night not to play our best, and to beat Stanford you have to play your best.”
As for GU's 18 percent field-goal shooting in the first half …
“That would hurt anybody,” Graves said. “I’m no rocket scientist, but you shoot 18 percent against anybody, you’re going to be in trouble, even if it’s against the local YMCA team. … Unfortunately, the nights where we’ve struggled so far this year it’s because we haven’t shot well, and it’s because we’re not getting an inside game. We’re not getting any easy baskets, we’re not getting the transition baskets, therefore we become a jump-shooting team, and if you’re not making those jump shots it can become a struggle.”
It's worth noting that GU held Stanford to 10 points less than its season average.
“We defended well enough to win a game like this and rebounded well,” Graves said. “We held them to (eight) offensive rebounds and I thought we did a pretty good job in that.”
As Karr mentioned, Gonzaga had seen Greenfield before and knew she could hit from the outside.
“But it’s like anything else, you have to prioritize,” Graves said. “You play the Miami Heat and you game plan for LeBron and Bosh and Wade. When one of their shooters goes off, you have to adjust, and unfortunately we didn’t adjust quick enough and we let her loose.
One media member wondered if Elle Tinkle provided GU with a scouting report on her sister, Joslyn.
“We’ve played against Joslyn a lot more than Elle has,” Graves quipped. “She’s never played against her and we’ve played against Joslyn now four times.”
Again looking for a bright spot, Graves was asked about the team's lone losses being to No. 1 Stanford and No. 7 Louisville.
“Hey, I could schedule 30 wins if I wanted to,” he said. “I choose to play these games because these are good for us. This exposed us. This will let us know, as did the Louisville game, where we gotta get better.”