Stanford women win No. 1 battle

December 16, 1991|By Annette John-Hall | Annette John-Hall,Knight-Ridder

STANFORD, Calif. -- This week's polls will show that third-ranked Stanford is the No. 1 team in the nation after its 96-95 overtime victory over Tennessee on Saturday night. But coach Tara VanDerveer isn't so sure.

But coach Tara VanDerveer isn't so sure.

"When the clock ran out, we just happened to be ahead," said VanDerveer, whose Cardinal improved to 5-0.

It was that kind of game -- draining and with numerous shifts of momentum, but thoroughly entertaining for the crowd of 5,522, the largest ever to see a regular-season women's game at Stanford.

The Lady Vols (3-1), who came into Maples Pavilion ranked No. 1, left having blown a 12-point lead and overwhelmed by a mega-dose of Val Whiting in the second half.

Whiting, a 6-foot-3 junior, contributed only two points to Stanford's 39-37 halftime lead. But she scored 19 in the second half and five in overtime, including 11 of the Cardinal's last 14 in regulation and the game-clinching points -- a 15-foot jumper just behind the foul line with four seconds to play.

Chris MacMurdo's layup off a pass from Christy Hedgpeth (21 points) tied the score at 87 at the end of regulation. It capped a rally in which the Cardinal erased a 73-61 Tennessee lead with nine minutes left. Tennessee didn't help itself by missing three one-and-one opportunities in the last two minutes of regulation.

Once safely in overtime, the Cardinal had Tennessee right where it wanted it. The Lady Vols were in foul trouble -- post players Kelli Casteel, Vonda Ward and Western graduate Dana Johnson all fouled out in regulation, and forward Peggy Evans left midway through the overtime.

"I never expected to be talking to four post people on the bench in overtime while freshman posts are out there playing," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

The mismatch left VanDerveer with the only logical option. Pound inside. "I just posted up a lot stronger," said Whiting, whose 26 points equaled a career-high.

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