Nicole Powell is Stanford’s star, its go-to player. Coach Tara VanDerveer knows it, Powell’s teammates know it, everyone who plays against her knows it.
But once VanDerveer had time to reflect on her team’s recent overtime loss to Tennessee, she realized the Cardinal just might be relying too much on the superstar forward.
Powell’s line in the 70-66 loss to the second-ranked Lady Vols: 13-for-35 shooting, 32 points, 16 rebounds, 45 minutes.
She was the only one from either side who played the entire game. During timeouts, VanDerveer checked with Powell to see how she felt. Each time she kept playing.
“When you talk about greatness, Nicole is right up there,” Tennessee’s Ashley Robinson said.
The 6-foot-2 Powell, expected to be an early pick in next year’s WNBA draft, might have worn down as the game wore on. She missed her final 10 shots in regulation and was 7-for-25 in the second half.
“I think Nicole is in great shape and can do it,” VanDerveer said. “She looked a little tired down the stretch. In 20-20 hindsight, I don’t know if I’d change that. Nicole tired is better than somebody else coming in.”
That has been the only loss for No. 7 Stanford, which still had a chance even after Tennessee rallied from a 14-point deficit to seize the momentum.
But Powell missed a 3-point shot from the top of the arc with 11 seconds left in overtime that would have tied the game. She also came up short on a close-range shot just before the final buzzer of regulation.
“That was the play I wanted,” she said. “It was good D, but it was right there, a right-handed layup.”
Powell carried Stanford again Thursday night when the Cardinal rallied from a 10-point deficit in a 72-62 victory at Rice. She scored all 16 of her points in the second half on 6-for-9 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds. And she even got a breather, playing “only” 37 minutes.
Sure she has a broken leg. But miss a game? Not if Penn State coach Rene Portland can help it.
Portland fractured the two bones in her lower left leg Thursday when she slipped on ice outside the team’s arena.
She underwent surgery later that day, but Penn State officials say Portland is expected to be on the bench when the sixth-ranked Lady Lions host No. 12 Louisiana Tech on Sunday.
Portland, in her 24th year at Penn State, is 541-188 with a Final Four appearance in 2000.
Connecticut is taking coach Geno Auriemma on another trip down memory lane.
The top-ranked Huskies play Saint Joseph on Sunday in Philadelphia, where Auriemma grew up. Adding to the nostalgia, they’ll be playing at the Palestra, which occupies a special place in UConn history.
It was there in 1991 that Auriemma’s team beat Clemson 60-57 to win the East Regional and earn the school’s first trip to the Final Four. The Huskies did it six years after Auriemma took over a program that had one winning season in 11 years.
Connecticut has been to the Final Four six times since, winning four national championships. One of those titles, in 2000, came in — you guessed it — Philadelphia.
America’s involvement in Iraq is hitting home at Iowa State.
Lance Easley, 21, the son of Iowa State assistant coach Jack Easley, will head for Iraq in three weeks with his Oklahoma National Guard unit.
The unit was supposed to go last spring, but the orders got lost, said Jack Easley. He doesn’t expect another reprieve.
“I’m a lot more nervous about it now than I was even the first time,” he said. “It’s more dangerous now than it was back then.”
Easley is in his first season at Iowa State. He previously worked at Providence and Oklahoma State.
Home sweet it is
Caitlin Howe’s long wait is over.
After missing most of the last three seasons, the redshirt freshman at Duke is finally playing again. She returned to practice this past week and was expected to be available for Duke’s weekend game at Northwestern State in Louisiana.
Howe was sidelined by torn knee ligaments during her junior and senior years in high school and last season at Duke. She played in an exhibition game for the Blue Devils last season but never had enough stability in her knee and ended up having surgery — again.
Despite her injuries, Howe was a McDonald’s All-America at Fairport High School in Rochester, N.Y., and scored 2,001 points in her varsity career, which began in the seventh grade.
LSU sophomore Seimone Augustus now finds herself among an impressive list of names.
Augustus was chosen USA Basketball’s female athlete of the year after helping her U.S. team win the gold medal at the World Championships for Young Women in Croatia.
The youngest player on the team, Augustus led the Americans with a 10.6 scoring average and shot 59 percent.
Previous winners include Lisa Leslie, Teresa Edwards, Chamique Holdsclaw, Katrina McClain, Dawn Staley and Cheryl Miller.
“Looking at the other women who have earned this, I can only look forward to being like them one day,” Augustus said.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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