Baylor 25, Stanford 23
DENVER -- A look at the first half of Sunday's national semifinal game between Stanford and Baylor at the Pepsi Center.
First-half analysis: Baylor 25, Stanford 23
PLAYER OF THE HALF: Chiney Ogwumike. The younger sister became something of a point forward in the first half. With Brittney Griner matched up with her on most possessions, Chiney Ogwumike took the Baylor star to the top of the key and then fired pinpoint bounce passes to open teammates in the lane for layups. Chiney didn't score much (two points), but her passing was part of a game plan that was executed well. The 6-foot-3 sophomore finished with four assists.
KEY MOMENT: Stanford began the game shooting 2-for-9 from the floor and was down 7-4. Then on consecutive possessions, Chiney found sister Nneka Ogwumike for a backdoor layup, and freshman Bonnie Samuelson made an open 3-pointer to give Stanford an 8-7 lead, establishing that the Cardinal would be in this game.
KEY STAT: Griner had just one field goal attempt in the first nine minutes and three over the first 14 minutes of the half. Stanford's sagging man-zone hybrid defense worked well at limiting both Griner's touches and at the same time Odyssey Sims' looks from the outside. Essentially, Tara VanDerveer dared Jordan Madden, Kimetria Hayden and Terran Condrey to beat Stanford. In the first half, they really couldn't although Baylor still had the slim advantage at the break. Griner ended the half with a team-leading seven points on 2-of-5 shooting.
KEY STAT II: Stanford launched 12 3-pointers but made just two, both by Samuelson. The Cardinal offense was all or nothing in the first half. Either they got great inside looks from Chiney Ogwumike's passing or Toni Kokenis' penetration, or they were forced to launch from deep.
TWO THINGS BAYLOR HAS TO DO TO WIN:
1. Obviously, Griner needs to get more touches, but Sims also needs to be more involved. She took just five shots and did not score until getting a steal and a fast-break layup with 1:27 left.
2. Keep up the perimeter defense. Baylor did a good job of taking the Stanford guards out of the game. Sims didn't score, but her on-the-ball defense was outstanding. If the Lady Bears can take away those inside looks on the Chiney Ogwumike passes, they have a chance to pull away.
TWO THINGS STANFORD HAS TO DO TO WIN
1. Get the ball inside more. That is easier said than done with Griner in the game, but the Cardinal's only success was the aforementioned passing of Chiney in the high post. Much more settling for long 3-pointers could put them in a hole.
2. Keep rebounding. Stanford not only limited Griner's touches, but the Cardinal also kept her off the boards. The rebounding battle was 20-20, and that has to be considered a win for Stanford. Griner had five of those 20 Baylor rebounds.
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