Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 22, 2013

It'll be a senior moment

Stanford's Tinkle closing out her home career with a final flourish

by Rick Eymer

The days remaining in her college career are numbered and Joslyn Tinkle knows it. Four more Pac-12 games followed by a three at the conference tournament, a pair of home games to open NCAA action and then who knows from there. That's it.

This is the time to make every game count and Tinkle is doing just that for the Cardinal as she heads into the final two regular-season home games of her career — Friday against Oregon State (8 p.m.) and Sunday against Oregon (4 p.m.) in Maples Pavilion.

This is "Senior Weekend" for Tinkle and redshirt junior Mikaela Ruef. Both will be honored at Sunday's game, even though Ruef likely will return next season since she has a year of eligibility remaining.

For the 6-foot-3 Tinkle, however, this is it. Her parents, Wayne and Lisa, are expected to be on hand this weekend for the celebration of the Class of 2013.

Making the weekend all the more special is the fact Tinkle is just four points shy of becoming Stanford's 34th member of the 1,000-Point Club. She'll likely become a member Friday night.

The Missoula, Mont. native's push to 1,000 has been aided by her play over the past 10 games, as Tinkle is averaging 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 50.0 percent (55 for 110) from the field and 46.9 (15 for 32) from 3-point range.

This past weekend in Los Angeles, Tinkle averaged 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds including a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in a win at USC on Friday. This season, Tinkle is averaging career bests of 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds a game with 48 blocks.

She ranks No. 2 in the conference with 1.85 blocks per game, No. 5 in 3-point field-goal percentage (35 percent) and No. 6 in field-goal percentage (50.5).

While Tinkle usually isn't mentioned in the same breath as junior All-American teammate Chiney Ogwumike, Tinkle has been a key member during yet another outstanding four-year run by the Cardinal.

Heading into the weekend, nationally No. 4 Stanford (13-1, 24-2) is 67-1 in conference and 128-9 overall during Tinkle's time on The Farm. And don't forgot those three straight appearances in the Final Four in her first three seasons.

Should Stanford win 10 more games this season, Tinkle will be a part of the most successful four-year run in program history — surpassing the 137 wins accumulated from 2008-11 and again from 2009-12.

Ruef has mirrored Tinkle's career time wise, even though she missed most of last season with a foot injury and thus has an extra year of eligibility. The 6-3 forward from Beavercreek, Ohio, has scored in double figures in three of Stanford's past four games and has posted the first two double-doubles of her career during that span.

In a 68-57 win over No. 15 UCLA on Sunday, Ruef battled her way to 10 points and 10 rebounds over a career-high 31 minutes. She is averaging 9.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 58.3 percent from the field over the past four games.

The recent contributions of Tinkle and Ruef have taken some of the pressure of Ogwumike, who nonetheless scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots against the Bruins.

The game ended a string of nine consecutive double-doubles for the National Player of the Year candidate.

"I don't think anyone has done more for their team (in the country) than Chiney," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who is 15 wins away from 900 for her 34-year career. "Looking at her numbers she is having a spectacular year. I think the other thing is when you look at who other players are playing with, she has one senior on her team and doesn't have any other All-Americans on her team. She really is putting this team on her back and comes out every night and is so consistent."

That's hard to argue if you're not from Baylor. Ogwumike averages a double-double on the season, posting 20 of them, and leads the conference in both categories. She also is the only player in the nation ranked in the NCAA's top six in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and double-doubles entering this week.

"I think there is a greater sense of urgency in February than there was in January," Ogwumike said. "These teams are tournament teams. I'm really excited that UCLA had a great game against us because it teaches us how to be able to win against an aggressive team that's physical and has a lot of weapons."

In 10 games against ranked teams this season, Ogwumike is averaging 21.3 points, on 53.5 percent shooting, and 11.3 rebounds.

Tinkle added 10 points and nine rebounds, one board away from her third straight double-double.

It's the time of the season for the Cardinal to be hitting its stride and Ogwumike has apparently lit a fire with her senior teammates.

Ogwumike, who draws the attention of everybody's game plan, still makes plays out of nowhere simply because she can anticipate so well and seems drawn to the offensive rebound. Ogwumike is a good reason Stanford has won all 15 games played away from Maples Pavilion this season. That gives the Cardinal a chance to eclipse the program record of 20 (Pac-12/Pac-10 Tournament and NCAA Tournament games included) set in 2007-08.

Against UCLA, meanwhile, Stanford's offense took a few naps over the course of the game by shooting just 39.7 percent from the floor and 21.1 percent from beyond the arc. That didn't seem to matter, as the Cardinal found other ways to limit UCLA. Stanford held the Bruins 13 points below their season average and out-rebounded them, 38-31, for its 15th straight win over the Bruins.

Stanford, which leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense, has held opponents under 70 points for 44 straight games.

That will be the game plan again this weekend for the Oregon schools. First up are the Beavers (3-11, 9-17), a team that is 6-50 all-time against Stanford and has lost the past 26 games in the series. OSU comes in riding an eight-game losing streak.'Should Stanford and California each win out over the final two weekends and finish tied atop the Pac-12 table at 17-1, Stanford would earn the tournament's No. 1 seed based on its higher overall winning percentage. Both the Cardinal and Bears have earned byes into the quarterfinals for the Pac-12 Tournament, set for March 7-10 at Seattle's Key Arena.

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