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Yes, #4 Stanford defeated the formerly undefeated #20 Buffaloes, and yes, it was by 17. But, Colorado played the Cardinal even in the second half, and the final score was no ode to offense.

Utah’s post-Elliot era has begun – and they gave #7 Cal a lot to chew on in the second half before falling, 55-50.

The headline suggests #16 UCLA “cruised” to a win over Oregon – but the second half surge by the Duck might give the Bruins some pause.

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The Cardinal and Huskies were preparing for their big showdown. (At least THIS big Card game is on tv! — tho barely – ESPNU.) Michelle writes: 

Two years ago at Maples Pavilion, on a chilly California night just before the turn of the New Year, the building vibrated.

 The Connecticut Huskies came west with a NCAA-record 90-game winning streak and the nation’s best player. 

By the time Stanford ended that streak, leading start to finish in a 71-59 victory, delirious fans roared, former Stanford players were rushing the court, Connecticut players looked a little stunned and a smiling Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer sensibly reminded everyone that it was only December.

Fast forward to 2012 and it’s still only December. But that doesn’t mean Maples won’t vibrate again.

From the Cardinal website: It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 As Stanford And Connecticut Face Off Saturday: Saturday’s meeting will be the 51st all-time meeting between the nation’s top two teams 

From the Husky website: No. 2 UConn Faces Top-Ranked Stanford on Saturday on ESPNU – Top two teams in the nation tip off at 4 p.m. on December 29 on ESPNU

The No. 2 Connecticut women’s basketball team is set to take on top-ranked Stanford on Saturday at 4 p.m. at a sold out Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif.  The top-two showdown will be televised on ESPNU with Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke and Rebecca Lobo on the call. The nation’s best will each put their undefeated records on the line as the Cardinal (11-0) and the Huskies (10-0) both have been perfect coming into Saturday’s game.

In case you were busy before the holidays, and missed this from Graham: Defense helps keep Cardinal No. 1

The week began with Baylor’s case for becoming the fourth school to win back-to-back national championships, and Brittney Griner, Odyssey Sims and the Lady Bears putting on a show in dismantling Tennessee.

It closed with Stanford showing why the road to No. 1 currently runs through the Bay Area.

Cardinal fans and Husky fans are discussing and analyzing and anticipating.

Speaking of anticipating: From Lady Swish, “Let’s the games begin (again)!

OK, folks, break’s over. Hope everyone had a happy holiday and got recharged for the second half of the season. Now let’s get back to work. Here’s a look at each team’s post-Christmas opener:

As the “new” season starts, the Register Guard has a Team-by-team 2013 Pac-12 women’s basketball preview and asks, “Is the league closing in on Stanford?”

The holiday break has opened some space for writers to go beyond “fifteen minutes after it ends” game stories.

From John Cannon at the Frederick News-Post Staff: India Dotson’s Smart head start – India Dotson was supposed to be one of the county’s top girls basketball players this season. Instead, she is already at Monmouth University, taking classes and playing hoops

Freshman India Dotson is the youngest player on the Monmouth University women’s basketball team.

Strange as it sounds, that fact helps explain why her college coach considers her to be so mature.

At 10-fer, Colorado is about to move in to Conference play, and the Buffs know Pac-12 play will be tough

From the New Haven Register’s Chris Hunn: Milford’s Casey Dulin excelling for Marist women’s basketball

For Milford’s Casey Dulin, there’s no place like home.

“She always seems to play well in Connecticut,” said Marist coach Brian Giorgis of his 5-foot-10 combo guard. “She seems to always have great games here. She always gets a lot of fans. It motivates her, it fires her up and she plays well.”

Folks at Duquesne are psyched: Women’s Basketball Receives Votes in Both PollsDukes get votes in AP and Coaches Polls

From the Jackson Free Press’ Torsheta Bowens: Mississippi Women’s Basketball Relies on Key Metro Area Graduates

From Cody Westerlund at the Ames Tribune:

In a season that’s already seen a worrisome injury to a top player (Chelsea Poppens), the emergence of a potential star (Hallie Christofferson) and the transfer of a rotation regular (Emiah Bingley) for Iowa State, Moody has rarely been in the headlines. Her performances have rarely been lost on her coach, though, with good reason: Moody is vitally important because she’s unique on this team.

The NBA has theirs. Now the Cal basketball chimes in. (h/t to Nate) The SF Gate also has this on Cal’s Talia Caldwell

As someone big on goals and plans, Cal basketball player Talia Caldwell knows exactly what she will be doing on a certain spring morning next year:

“I’ll be done May 23rd at 9 a.m.,” she said. “I’ll dance across the stage and get my degree and say ‘sayonara.’ “

It won’t be just any old undergraduate degree, either. After becoming the first Cal women’s basketball player ever admitted to the prestigious Haas School of Business, Caldwell will receive a B.A. in business administration. (Maybe the Lib could hire her?)

Speaking of Nate, more fun from Swish Appeal: Meme/GIF of the Year Candidates for 2012

It’s getting close to the end of the calendar year, since we are all heading to Christmas next Tuesday. Over the course of this year’s open threads and the like, there have been some comments with memes and GIF’s after a play or something to symbolize a theme of the season. So, here are some of the notable ones we saw throughout the year, and more specifically during the WNBA season.

The .com chimes in with their “Tomorrow’s Stars: Christmas Edition:”

The hype surrounding the 2013 WNBA Draft class – which includes three game-changing prospects in Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, all currently playing for their respective colleges – is at an all-time high as all three have the potential to immediately make a substantial impact on a franchise. Each week, WNBA.com will update you with what each of these players is doing for their respective schools as it’s never to early for WNBA fans to start following some of the future stars of this league.From espnW:

2012: The Year of the Woman, by espnW (feat. Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”) (Who was the comedienne who said, “What, we only get a year?”)

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and what happens?

KState forgets how to score.

The Terrapins tip toe past the Cardinals.

TAMU squeaks by the Razorbacks.

Kentucky eased by Green Bay.

The Cardinal roll and the Volunteers rock.

Dawn gets her team to the sweet 16. (upset)

Gonzaga took down Miami (upset) and you’ve got to believe the game would have looked different if Riquna Williams had been on the court. You’ve got to admire coach Meier’s principals and courage.

The ESPN folk weigh in:

Fagan: Terps survive Cardinals, advance

Mechelle: Depth carries Tennessee past DePaul

Michelle: Stanford beats WVU at own game

Graham: Half of Sweet 16 set — and Gonzaga’s in again

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on Tuesday, and The Pink Room is on it: Season 1, Episode 4: Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer’s message to Pat Summitt

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(oops.)

Chat Review! From Mechelle:

Bob (College Station): Mechelle, how about that atmosphere for the A&M-Baylor game in Dallas…they say regional finals are always some of the most tense games because it’s win and you’re into the Final Four…You agree?

Mechelle Voepel: I was trying to think if I’ve ever been at a regional final that was quite like that one in Dallas – where you had a big crowd with a lot of fans from *both* schools from the same state and the regional itself was in the very heart of that state. And considering how fun and passionate the rivalries are between all the Texas schools. And how many of the Baylor and TAMU players are from Texas. AND … that Gary Blair is from Dallas. There was so much about that regional final that was hard to duplicate anywhere else. I feel lucky that I was there. And it was pretty emotional, actually watching the Baylor and TAMU players in the post-game handshake, because they respect each other. Particularly the way the TAMU players all hugged Baylor senior Melissa Jones … that was a pretty moving scene. And yes, regional finals can be among the most pressure-packed and emotional games you’ll ever witness.

Also at ESPN (Which is doing a *sarcasm on* GREAT job of burying their writers’ work *sarcasm off*):

Did you catch Sport Science and Maya?

There’s other video (it’s great to have Nikki on the team, no?):

Mechelle writes: Final Four isn’t what most predicted – But there will be a key rematch, a team chasing a three-peat and a first-timer

Graham writes: Final Four features different makeups

Charlie asks: Is Stanford favorite in wide-open Indy?(And I say, “Umm, yaaaaah!”) – Guard play between Cardinal’s Pohlen and Texas A&M Sydneys tandem is key matchup

He also says, UConn favored, but little margin for error

The crew tries to pick who’s gonna win now that the teams are set. There’s also these picks: Cardinal (not UConn) a unanimous pick.

W0ndering who DID get the picks right? Andrew Feldman has the Final Four brackets by the numbers

With two No. 1 seeds and a pair of 2-seeds in the women’s Final Four, 3,751 brackets (0.01 percent) in the Women’s Tournament Challenge had the correct four teams.

Upsets by No. 2 seeds Notre Dame (beating top-seeded Tennessee in the Dayton Regional final) and Texas A&M (knocking off Baylor and Brittney Griner in the Dallas Regional final) might have accounted for most brackets — 119,976 — getting just two of the Final Four teams.

Michelle Smith is working hard over at espnW: Five storylines to watch in Final Four

Jere’ at the New York Times writes of Notre Dame/UConn: For Winning Team, the Fourth Time Will Be the Charm

Notre Dame will have the Texas A&M upset to draw upon. It also carries momentum from its first victory against Tennessee in the Dayton Regional final, which came after 20 consecutive defeats to the Lady Vols. And the Irish will not be awed by UConn after losing twice this season by fewer than 10 points.

“We will definitely reference Texas A&M, the fourth time’s a charm,” Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said on a conference call. “I think it’s going to be a mental hurdle to get over. It’s difficult, I hope, to beat a team four times.”

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are set.

Maybe Sherri had a point about Notre Dame’s defense.

Notes the NYTimes headline: Notre Dame’s Intensity Stuns Tennessee. The Irish built a wall in the paint and Tennessee’s guards suffered horribly. Add in Skylar Diggins’ offense (24pts) and game management and you get a 73-59 Notre Dame win, their first victory over Tennessee in 28 years. Writes Graham: Indianapolis calls to Skylar Diggins

There is something decidedly old-school about Diggins’ game, even as it comes attached to a confident, charismatic, outgoing character made for the modern media world. She is comfortable meeting the demands of stardom, but she does it with a game built around decidedly anachronistic passions — getting to the free throw line by driving to the basket like a running back hitting the hole or pulling up for a jumper in the vast wasteland that is the so-called midrange.

In the late game, the Sister Act was too much for Vandersloot and her energized fan base. Both Ogwuimikes notched double-doubles as the Stanford Cardinal powered past #11 Gonzaga, 83-60. Said the Bulldogs’ coach Kelly Graves:

“They’re just a unique combination of strength, obviously skill, but the quickness with which they attack the ball on the boards is phenomenal. We’re not there yet to be able to match up with these kinds of teams that just have that kind of strength and athleticism inside.”

The Cardinal are now in their fourth straight Final Four. Writes Mechelle:

“Going to the Final Four every year — I mean, it’s a dream for people,” Pohlen said. “Some people don’t even get close.”

Gonzaga seemed close — one game away — but Stanford made that appear to be quite a wide gulf with how well the Cardinal played in every respect Monday.

The Bulldogs fans among the 11,646 in attendance did what they could to pump up Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference champion that had already beaten teams from the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big East in this tournament. But against the Pac-10’s giant, the Bulldogs simply didn’t have enough rocks.

Not to mention the ones they did have pretty much just bounced off the Ogwumike sisters.

BTW, welcome back Jayda: Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves not interested in Washington?

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Yup, Michelle, you have been busy.

What Tara Really meant was….on espnW

Stanford-St. John’s Game Story for espnW

Stanford-St. John’s Game story for Pac-10.org

Toni Kokenis feature for Pac-10.org

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