December 04, 2016

Cardinal dominates Aggies 68-42

In last year's game against the Davis Aggies, Stanford led by only five at halftime. This year the Cardinal took the floor with intensity and focus, and at the end of the first quarter led 20-8.

What could have made the difference? One possibility: On Thursday night a stodgy first quarter made the game against Bakersfield harder than it should have been, and this had probably been pointed out to the players.

Also, this was the second year Stanford took the floor wearing turquoise uniforms for the Nike N7 game, benefiting the N7 Fund that supports sports for Native Americans. When the Cardinal wore that color last year, they suffered an embarrassing loss to Santa Clara. Tonight, everyone wanted to lift the curse of the turqoise unis.

That they certainly did, increasing the lead steadily through all four quarters of this fast, physical, entertaining game. The Cardinal defense was especially impressive, seeming to anticipate and get in front of almost every move the Aggies attempted. As a result, UCD shot only 23%. (At one point in the second quarter they were shooting only 16%.)

The Cardinal offense was not perfect. The three-point game just took the night off, Stanford hitting only three of 19.

And there was a team-wide failure at the free-throw line. Stanford was 1-8 in free throws in the first half, which had us looking up records. The current worst single game free throw percentage is 33%, and for quite a while this game's percentage was lower. But eventually there were enough makes to bring the percentage for the game to 37.5%, so avoiding a new record. But when your field-goal percentage (44.4) exceeds your free-throw percentage (37.5) you know you've had a bad night at the line.

Those struggles aside, the Cardinal had plenty of offense to finish off the Aggies tonight. Bird led all scorers with 17 points, adding 13 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.

All healthy players had serious minutes, they all scored, and eight of them committed a steal. The fans had fun and the team looked ready to hit the road to Tennessee and Georgetown after finals break.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

The press conference audio with Tara and Bird.

And a gallery of photos by Al Chang (isiphotos.com).

Catching up with videos

Stanford Athletics has published several videos recently:

Highlights of the Stanford vs CSU Bakersfield game:

Bakersfield Born and Raised

Meet the Freshman

December 03, 2016

Honors for Bird

Congratulations to Bird, who was named to two national awards watch lists last week:

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday that she is one of 50 players under consideration for the 2017 Naismith Women's College Player of the Year. Read more: 2017 Naismith Women’s Watchlist Announced

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association announced Thursday that she is one of 25 players on the "Wade Watch" list of candidates for the 2017 Wade Trophy. Read more: WBCA announces ‘Wade Watch’ candidates for 2017 Wade Trophy

December 01, 2016

Cardinal fends off the Roadrunners

The Icardo center at Cal State Bakersfield is a small square building, very reminiscent of McKeon pavilion at St. Mary's or Firestone Pavilion at Pepperdine.

This was a feel-good game for the McCall family. A number of local fans greeted Bird when the team took the floor with large banners and cheers.

Greg McCall, Bird's father and coach of the CSUB Roadrunners, said before the game that his team would "play tough, physical and aggressive". That the Roadrunners did, swarming any Stanford player who brought the ball toward the basket, and in the process committing a lot of fouls, many of which were called. In the end Stanford shot 23 free throws and CSUB only two.

In the first quarter the Roadrunners' defense seemed to bother Stanford; the Cardinal missed a lot of shots and turned the ball over several times. That quarter ended at a tie, 11-all.

In the second quarter Stanford pulled their own defense together and stifled the CSUB offense. That quarter ended with Stanford up 40-26, the Roadrunners having scored only six to Stanford's 20. Stanford continued to out-score CSUB in the following quarters, although not by such a margin.

The Cardinal's size and skills showed clearly in rebounding where they dominated, 51-22. That was the only stat in which the Cardinal dominated this opponent. The Roadrunners showed good abilities in defense and in ball movement, and in the end they shot the ball almost as well as the Cardinal, 40% to 47%. They made six three-pointers to Stanford's four, and committed fewer turnovers.

The 21-point victory margin includes 13 points from free throws. Without the generous contribution of fouls from the Roadrunner defense, the game would have been much closer.

Bird had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Karlie had 14 points. Nadia came off the bench to make 13. Alanna almost had a double-double, with 10 points and 9 rebounds, and Brittany rounded out the high scorers with 9 points.

Following the game, the team was to have a late supper prepared by Bird's mother and grandmother and then a long bus ride home.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video.

And the press conference audio, with Greg McCall, Erica McCall, Justin McCall and DeWanna Bonner

A family affair

By Jeff Evans (The Bakersfield Californian): CSUB-Stanford showdown a family affair for McCalls

November 29, 2016

Up next: Roadrunners and Aggies

The Cardinal have returned from Mexico to what should be a pair of fairly easy games before finals break.

It's McCall vs McCall again as the Cardinal pay a return visit to Bird's dad's team in Bakersfield on Thursday evening at 7:00.

Then it's back to Maples for a game against the UC Davis Aggies on Sunday afternoon at 2:00.

  CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners

The Roadrunners play in the WAC and are the only California team in the conference. The other members are all over the western half of the country — Seattle, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Kansas City, Chicago. The Roadrunners not only travel a lot — they also play some very tough teams.

Coach McCall likes to challenge his team in the non-conference season. The Roadrunners played five Top25 teams last season and have already played Oregon and Cal this season.

Junior guard/forward Aja Williams had a record game at Cal a week ago. She scored 35 points, including 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, tying CSUB's record for 3-pointers made, setting a new record for 3-pointers attempted, and falling just one short of the record points per game.

The Cardinal's perimeter defense will also have to keep an eye on redshirt-senior forward Erika Williams (not related to Aja) and sophomore guard Addi Walters. They both shoot the three and average just short of ten points per game.

Here are the Roadrunners' roster and season statistics.

Here is the media coverage of the game:

  UC Davis Aggies

UC Davis plays in the Big West Conference, along with Cal Poly and CSU Northridge who played at Maples earlier this season.

The Cardinal and the Aggies are familiar opponents. They've played each other for nine consecutive seasons. The Cardinal have won all those games, but the Aggies always show up ready to play and looking for a win. They were down by less than six points at the half in the previous two games.

Last season the Aggies advanced to the Big West championship game for only the fourth time in the program's history. They return seven players and three starters from that squad and have been picked to finish second this season.

The Aggies are led by redshirt sophomore forward Morgan Bertsch, who led the team in scoring at 13.9 ppg and ranked among the top-10 shooters in the nation with a .582 field goal percentage last season. She's averaging 16.2 points this season and is joined in the starting lineup by three other double-digit scorers — junior forward Pele Gianotti, junior guard/forward Dani Nafekh, and junior guard Rachel Nagel.

Here are the Aggies' roster and season statistics.

Here is the media coverage of the game:

The Cardinal will wear their N7-inspired turquoise uniforms at this game in celebration of Honor Native American Heritage Month. The N7 philosophy embraces the Native philosophy: "In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Read more about N7 in: Stanford partners with N7.

There will be a chalk talk before the game and a "Behind the Bench" session after. The postgame session is not actually behind the bench this time. It will take place in Dallmar Court and is by invitation only to season ticket members. Light refreshments will be served.

November 26, 2016

Cardinal sweeps with tough win over Purdue

For three quarters, this was about as close as a game can be: after one quarter the game was tied 17-17; at the half Purdue was up 39-42; with one minute left in the third quarter the score was tied 55-55.

Then things began to turn Stanford's way. With a three by Bri and a McCall layup, the quarter ended at 60-57. Although Purdue twice brought the lead down to three, Stanford never trailed again. In the closing minutes Marta and Bird made their free throws to seal the game.

Both teams shot well at 50% and 45% respectively. Stanford had a team edge in rebounds (30-28) and in blocks (5-2). The teams were virtually equal in three-point shooting (47.4% vs. 46.7%) but Stanford took a few more shots, making 9-19 vs. 7-15 for Purdue.

Purdue's main scoring threat was their point guard, Ashley Morrisette, who ended up with 23 points. Stanford matched her with 22 points by Brittany and 20 by Karlie.

Karlie in particular matched her career high of three-point shots, making six of eight. (She had made six in New Mexico in her freshman season.)

Brittany made 10 of 18 attempted goals, including multiple times when she drove in a semicircle under the basket and flipped the ball up for a reverse layup.

Three other Cardinal players scored — Bird had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds; Bri had 11 points including two of four three-pointers; and Marta was 2-7 on field goal attempts, but also 5 of 6 on free throws for 9 points in all.

All told, this was a tough, hard-earned win that should give the team confidence going forward.

The Cardinal are the champs ... Bird is the MVP ... she and Karlie are named to the All-Tourney team.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A gallery of photos from Purdue Athletics,

And two videos tweeted by Stanford Athletics:



November 25, 2016

Cardinal harvests win from Shockers

Remote fans did not have even a silent video for this game. The stream window showed "about to start" for the entire game. An email at halftime to the organizers was promptly and politely answered with, "We currently have a crew trying to get it back up online as quickly as possible," but that crew apparently failed.

Fortunately the live stats page worked and the play-by-play gave a sense of the game, which was simply a romp for Stanford over a thoroughly overmatched opponent to a final score of 87-39.

Among the starters, Brittany had 13 points, a block and a steal; Erica had 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Alanna started again today in place of Kaylee, who is reported to be wearing a boot. Alanna greatly improved over her prior game, getting 11 points on 4-7 shooting, as well as eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and just two fouls.

In this type of game everyone gets playing time and the bench gets a chance to shine. All 11 available players got at least 13 minutes today, and the bench scored 47% of Stanford's total points.

In this game, Shannon got a career high of 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting and 3-4 free throws, and a career-high seven rebounds.

Marta was able to break out offensively, equalling her career high of 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, along with five assists and four steals.

Nadia had eleven points on 5-5 shooting, along with three assists.

It's good that our starters could take it pretty easy today. Tomorrow's game is against the Purdue Boilermakers, a much stronger team that will really challenge the Cardinal.

The video stream for the Purdue/Northeastern game has just begun. Hope the crew can keep streaming up for the remaining games of the tournament.

Here are game reports and commentary:

And the game statistics.

November 24, 2016

Cardinal squelches Northeastern

Stanford fans at home watched this game as a silent movie: the live video stream from the tournament was smooth and of good quality but had no sound-track. Get used to it; looking ahead, all the women's games from this tournament are noted as "no audio".

What fans saw in silence was a defensive stifling of a weaker team. Stanford held Northeastern to 32% shooting for the game, and kept their top three shooters to 19 points, 24 below their season average.

The defensive element was important because the Cardinal started out cold and only began to take a lead late in the first quarter, and even as late as the second half held only a ten-point lead over a team that was obviously not of their calibre.

Alanna scores the first Cardinal point

Bird scores the first Cardinal basket

The final score was a comfortable 74-45.

Two Stanford players did most of the scoring. Erica tied her career high with 27 points on 11 of 14 shooting (including 2 for 2 from outside the arc), and Karlie had 18, going 6-13 on threes.

Alanna started in place of Kaylee (who was not suited up) and played 21 minutes during which she was a major contributor to the defense, with nine rebounds, four blocks and a steal. She had a frustrating offensive day, however. She was clearly focused on playing under the basket, where she took eight shots but hit only one, although she was often fouled and made 5 of 6 free throws.

To round out the starters, Brittany also had a frustrating offensive day, hitting only one of seven shots (going 0-4 from three), and Bri was 0-5.

Major contributors off the bench were Dijonai with six points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes; Nadia was five and five in 23 minutes; Shannon scored seven points in six minutes; and Marta scored once and assisted five times in 20 minutes.

The Cardinal are up bright and early again tomorrow to play the Wichita State Shockers at 8:00. The Shockers probably lost to Purdue today — they were down 48-25 at the half.

Here are game recaps and some commentary:

AND the game statistics.

November 22, 2016

Up next: Thanksgiving in Cancun

The Cardinal will be playing in the Cancun Challenge over the Thanksgiving weekend against:

We can hope that history continues to repeat itself. Last season, the Cardinal followed up a win over a ranked team (George Washington) with a home loss to a West Coast Conference opponent (Santa Clara), then went on to sweep their Thanksgiving tournament (in Florida).

All the games will be streamed live by Triple Crown Sports, the tournament organizer. The streamed games will be on YouTube, so you can watch them at your leisure. You can find the link to each live stream (and to live stats) in the FBC schedule.

Northeastern University is a private research university located in Boston.

The Northeastern Huskies have played in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) for eleven years, placing in the middle or bottom. The Huskies' performance last season was the biggest surprise in the CAA. They had an impressive turnaround, going 15-16 overall and 9-9 in conference play after winning just four games the previous season.

The Huskies lost their leading player to graduation, but returned three starters: 5-5 sophomore guard Jess Genco, 6-0 sophomore forward Gabby Giacone, and 6-2 senior center Francesca Sally. The trio are the Huskies' leading scorers so far this season with a cumulative average of 42.6 points per game.

The Cardinal have never played any team in the CAA.

This is Northeastern's roster and statistics.

Incidentally, Northeastern is where Toni Kokenis is in her second year of studying for a law degree. I'm guessing that her schedule and budget don't allow for a trip to Cancun.

The Wichita State Shockers play in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). They have played the Cardinal just once – way back in the pre-Tara era.

They had never won an MVC title or an MVC tournament title, never made an NCAA appearance until Jody Adams-Birch took over as head coach eight years ago. She transformed the program and led the team to three glorious seasons (2013, 2014 and 2015) when they won the MVC regular-season championship and the MVC tournament title and advanced to the NCAAs.

Last season was the first one for all but four of the Shockers (freshmen or transfers) and they had no seniors — the run of success ended with a crash.

Adams-Birch is looking for success again this season as she works to rebuild her gaggle of young players into a team. She's depending on junior forward Rangie Bessard, last year’s MVC Newcomer of the Year and their leading scorer (15.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.8 rpg) to lead the way

This is Wichita State's roster and statistics.

This will be the third time in four years that the Cardinal and the Boilermakers have spent Thanksgiving together.

They played in Puerto Vallarta in 2013 – the Cardinal came away with Tara's 899th career win.

And they played a very close game in the final round in Florida last year. The Cardinal pulled out a victory thanks to a startling last-second three-point shot by Kailee Johnson that put Purdue two possessions down late in overtime. Bri, who scored a career-high 26 points that day, iced the win with five free throws.

The Boilermakers are not quite as strong this season as last. They lost April Wilson, their starting point guard and top shooter, to graduation. They have just four upperclassmen on the roster and are 1-3 for the season.

This is Purdue's roster and statistics.