December 14, 2017

Up next: At home with UNLV and Western Illinois

The Cardinal return to Maples after finals week for a welcome run of five home games, beginning with a pair against teams they've never played before — the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 and Western Illinois on Monday evening at 7:00.

It's almost Christmas, and Stanford Athletics is collecting toys for tots at both games. Bring a new unwrapped toy, for kids 8th grade and below, to help brighten a child's Christmas — you can get a free general admission ticket for each donation.

There will be a chalk talk before each game. There will also be a Behind-the-Bench session after the game on Saturday and several of the players will be signing autographs.

Neither game will be televised. The media coverage for both is:

  UNLV Lady Rebels

UNLV plays in the Mountain West Conference, where they stand fifth in the league with a 5-3 record. In the NCAA rankings, their RPI is 151 and their schedule strength rank is 173.

The Lady Rebels just played their best game of the season — a 52-50 victory over Gonzaga in Spokane.

The Lady Rebels have a balanced offense with four players who score in double digits: Junior forward/center Katie Powell (14.9 ppg), senior guard Brooke Johnson (14.1 ppg), redshirt junior guard Nikki Wheatley (13.1 ppg) and junior forward Jordyn Bell (10.3 ppg).

Johnson is the only one who shoots much from beyond the arc — she averages just under two 3-pointers per game. Powell and Johnson are the leading rebounders — they each grab not quite ten per game.

UNLV is still coached by Kathy Olivier, now in her tenth year as head coach at her alma mater.

This is UNLV's roster and season statistics.

  Western Illinois Leathernecks

The University of Western Illinois is located in Macomb, Illinois, which is about 200 miles southwest of Chicago. It is a member of the Summit League along with seven other mid-western schools.

Its women's basketball team stands at the top of the league with a 9-2 record. They're ranked No. 19 in the Mid-Majors Top 25 by College Insider. In the NCAA rankings, their RPI is 137 and their schedule strength rank is 261.

The Leathernecks are led by junior guard Taylor Higgenbotham (17.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.4 apg) and senior point guard Emily Clemens (15.8 ppg, 8.5 apg, 3.9 spg).

The Leathernecks' strongest assets are their ball-distribution and handling. They average 20.5 assists per game and rank tenth in the nation in that category. Their assist-turnover ratio is 1.50, which ranks ninth. Emily Clemens' 8.5 per game ranks third nationally.

The Leathernecks rank fifth in the nation in steals, with an average of 14.5 per game. Clemens is the head thief with 3.9 steals per game, sixth-best in the nation.

The Leathernecks are prolific 3-point shooters. Taylor Higginbotham takes 42% of her shots from beyond the arc. Three other players each take more than 60%. As a team, the Leathernecks make 10.8 3-pointers per game, which ranks fifth in the nation.

This is Western Illinois' roster and season statistics.

December 05, 2017

USF, Baylor and moving forward

The Stanford Daily's weekly roundtable discussion of Stanford Women's Basketball: USF, Baylor and moving forward

December 03, 2017

Cardinal smothered in Waco, 57-81

Baylor's defense, especially the defense in the paint from 6-4 Lauren Cox and 6-7 Kalani Brown, smothered the Stanford offense, producing an awful first quarter. After six Baylor steals and seven Stanford turnovers, the Cardinal could be almost glad the score was no worse than 8-25.

The Cardinal seemed to regain some composure in the second quarter, which opened with a nifty reverse layup by Kiana, who at that point had scored all of Stanford's points. Shannon was put in, one assumes to defend Brown, but she began to hit threes, and the team put together a 9-0 run and got within nine at 24-33. The half ended at 26-39.

No magical adjustments happened in the locker room. The Cardinal continued to play competent basketball; Alanna began to find ways to the basket through the bigger trees; Shannon continued to defend and to hit threes; but the Bears were clearly the better team and widened their lead slowly, but inexorably, to the final score of 57-81.

Shannon led the Stanford scoring with 14 points (her personal best) including hitting four of eight three-point tries (another personal best). Her defense contributed to holding the Baylor juggernaut to its lowest field-goal percentage of the season (a mere 43%) while comitting only one personal foul. This was definitely a breakout game for Shannon, who will likely get more playing time in future games than she has previously.

Kiana had 13 points (including three of eleven three-pointers, all in the first half (when for about 12 minutes of the game, she had all of Stanford's points). She ran the point for 34 minutes and was credited with two assists and zero turnovers.

Stymied in the paint, Alanna tried her outside shot and sank two of six long ones. She scored 11 points, plus a steal, two blocks, and five rebounds.

Maya showed great promise with two blocks, seven rebounds, and seven points on 3-6 shooting, including a couple of rebound-and-put-back plays that looked very Ogwumike-like.

Kaylee got into early foul trouble and played only twelve minutes, during which she grabbed the team-high ten rebounds.

Stanford now returns to "dead" week and finals, before three home games that precede the PAC-12 season, which begins late in December.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The audio press conference with Tara,

The game highlights video from Fox Sports,

And photos by Ernesto Garcia and Rod Aydelotte (Waco Tribune-Herald)):

Kiana launches one of her three-pointers
Kristy Wallace eludes Maya and Nadia
Kaylee grabs one of her ten rebounds
DiJonai drives to the basket
Alanna drives against pressure

December 01, 2017

Up next: A visit to the Baylor Lady Bears

The Cardinal have one more tough road game before they break for finals and dead week — against the Baylor Lady Bears in Waco, Texas on Sunday morning at 11:00 Pacific Time.

The last time Stanford and Baylor played was one of the most exciting games in recent Cardinal history.

It was five years ago in the championship game of the Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii. Baylor was ranked No. 1 in both national polls. With three seconds left to play, the Cardinal was up 71-69 and the Lady Bears had possession. They inbounded to Brittney Griner, whose layup bounced off the rim. Chiney grabbed the rebound and the victory.

More reminiscences: Cardinal wins a nail-biter and The last 3 seconds revisited

But that was then, and Griner is long gone. Now Baylor is ranked No. 9 in the national polls, with a loss to UCLA and six wins. Kim Mulkey is still the head coach, now in her 18th season at Baylor, and the Lady Bears have another formidable 'big': 6'7" junior center Kalani Brown who is averaging 22.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. She has made 77% of her shots — the best field goal percentage in the nation.

Baylor has another star player in the front court: 6'4" sophomore forward Lauren Cox, who does quite a lot of everything — 16.7 points at .530 FG%, 10.2 rebounds. 3.7 assists and 3.2 blocks per game. She did not play in Baylor's loss to UCLA.

Here are Baylor's roster and season statistics.

This is the media coverage of the game:

November 30, 2017

Three-point barrage downs Dons, 86-66

The Cardinal started this game like people still a little fuzzy from a long weekend in Vegas. The Dons started with a couple of three-point makes and a vigorous, athletic defense. They took a lead that they maintained into the second half, while Stanford seemed to struggle. In fact, Stanford scored only 12 points in the first quarter, and again only 12 in the second, to end the first half trailing 24-28.

Maybe Tara came up with some of those famous "adjustments" during the break. At any rate, although the same players started the second half as started the first, they performed at a different level entirely.

DiJonai got it going with a crisp jumper; then Alanna and Kaylee made layups to tie the score 30-30. Then the threes started falling: Kiana hit one, then DiJonai did, then DiJonai again and Kiana again, then Alexa.

In all, Stanford scored 32 points in the third quarter, a third more than they scored in the entire first half. It wasn't a runaway yet because USF was making threes as well, so the third quarter ended 56-49.

But the Stanford blitz continued in the fourth with threes from Alexa, then Kiana, then Alanna and Alanna again, and DiJonai. That made the final score of 86-66 look like an easy win, but it was only easy for the final five minutes.

Alanna scored her third consecutive double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. She went 3-3 from beyond the arc.

DiJonai also had 19 points, plus 5 rebounds.

Kiana led the three-point barrage, hitting 5 of 9 long shots on the way to a personal best of 17 points.

Alexa had 13 points, equaling her personal best.

Kaylee grabbed the game-high 14 rebounds — quite likely the most since her freshman season.

As a group the team hit 15 of 31 three-point tries, or 48%. Eleven of those dropped in the second half — a school record for threes in a half.

The team now heads to Waco to play the Baylor Bears. Their success there will surely depend on which team starts the game, the one from tonight's first half, or that other, much better one. Then comes finals and "dead week" before the next home game.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And a few photos:

Kiana was tough on defense too

Cardinal and Dons, always friends

November 29, 2017

Moving on from Vegas

From the Stanford Daily

Mikaela Brewer writes about what the team won in Vegas and how they continue to win every day: Thanksgiving tournament in Vegas

Ellie Chen and Alexandre Bucquet discuss how the team has improved since the beginning of the season and what they need to do to continue improving: Women’s basketball roundtable: Play4Kay debrief

November 28, 2017

Up Next: A trip to The City

The Cardinal have returned from Las Vegas, but not all the way to Maples. They'll play the San Francisco Dons at War Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm.

This is the media coverage of the game:

Two year ago, under the guidance of head coach Jennifer Azzi, the Dons went 18-11 in the regular season and entered the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament as the No. 6 seed. They reeled off three straight wins to capture the conference championship, their first since 1996-97, then lost to Stanford in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Then their two star seniors graduated, Azzi resigned, and Molly Goodenbour (Stanford '93) took over as head coach. Last season the Dons went 18-13, placed fourth in the WCC and lost to Gonzaga in the tournament quarter-finals. They've begun this season 2-3.

The Dons have four players that are averaging double-digits this season: junior guard Shannon Powell, senior forward Michaela Rakova, senior guard Anna Seilund, and senior guard Kalyn Simon.

Here are the Dons' roster and statistics.

November 27, 2017

Alanna is Pac-12 Player of the Week

3 GP, 23.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 31-48 (.646), 7-9 FT (.778), 4 ast, 6 blk

  • Averaged a double-double with 23.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in Stanford’s 2-1 week at the Play4Kay Showcase in Las Vegas.

  • Shot 64.6 percent from the field (31-of-48), 40 percent from deep and averaged 2.0 blocks per game.

  • Had the best performance of her career in the Cardinal’s 94-82 overtime loss to No. 9 Ohio State on Saturday, setting career highs in both scoring (33) and rebounding (16).

  • The nation’s only 30-point, 15-rebound double-double against a ranked team this season and just the fourth such performance by a Pac-12 player against an AP top-10 team since 2000.

  • Her 33 points is the highest single-game total in the Pac-12 this season and the most at Stanford since Chiney Oqwumike dropped 37 against Washington State on March 1, 2014.

  • 106th weekly honor for Stanford and first honor for Smith.

November 26, 2017

Cardinal almost cracks the Buckeyes, 82-94 (OT)

The game started very well for Stanford, when Alexa, Dijonai and Alanna combined for a 9-0 run, forcing Ohio State to call an early timeout. The first quarter ended with Stanford up 19-13 and ahead on rebounds 13-7.

These trends continued throughout the first half. Aided by Anna hitting four of six three-point shots, and Alanna reaching an early double-double at 10 points and 10 rebounds, Stanford ended the half ahead 33-26.

This was a major advance in defensive play, to hold a team that had broken 100 in its two previous games to only 26 in the half. Even more remarkable was that Stanford had 26 rebounds to OSU's 12, and that the formidable Stephanie Mavunga had only two points and four rebounds.

The third quarter ended with Stanford up 58-49 and still ahead on rebounds, 37-25. Near the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, Ohio began to press every inbound, which resulted in some turnovers and began to turn the flow of the game. Stanford maintained a lead largely due to Anna hitting two more threes on consecutive possessions. The final two minutes were an exciting alternation of leads, with critical makes from Anna (her seventh trey), Alanna, and Dijonai to reach a 76-76 tie.

In the overtime period, OSU hit three-point shots on two successive possessions and the Cardinal were unable to answer either one. Down six in the final minutes Stanford had to foul, and the Buckeyes made their free throws. Those closing points add up to a final score that does not reflect the close contest this was.

Alanna led the Cardinal with 33 points and 16 rebounds, both numbers her personal best. She also had two steals, two blocks, and just one personal foul (which came in the final minute of overime).

Anna hit seven of eight three-point tries for 21 points, her personal best, although not quite a Stanford record

Six other players scored, although none in double digits. Dijonai had eight points, four rebounds and four assists. Kaylee and Marta each had six points. Alyssa had four points and Alexa and Maya each had two.

In the end the Cardinal out-rebounded the Buckeyes by 45-39, shot 45% from the field and (largely thanks to Anna) 35% from beyond the arc. Despite not coming away victors, the game demonstrated a major improvement, especially in defense, for this young team.

Alanna and Anna were named to the All-Tournament team.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

And the audio press conference with Tara,

November 24, 2017

Play4Kay, second day

First game: DePaul vs Memphis

DePaul grabbed a 12-point lead in the first quarter and then held on to win 81-67.

Second game: Gonzaga vs Kent State

Gonzaga built a 17-point lead in the first quarter, slowed down for two quarters, then closed the game out at 77-57.

Third game: Ohio State vs Florida Gulf Coast

We arrived in the arena a few minutes into the game and the score was Buckeyes 11, Eagles 6. By the time we'd gotten comfortable in our seats it was 18-6. At the end of the first quarter it was 30-9, and things were not looking good for the feisty Floridians. We noted that Ohio ran a wide-spread zone on every possession. FGCU rarely got the ball inside the perimeter without turning it over.

In the second quarter FGCU regained some composure and hit a few threes. At the half the score was 58-34 but in the third quarter the Buckeyes pulled further ahead to 85-49.

During the third quarter Ohio's Kelsey Mitchell hit her 401st three-point goal and became the NCAA all time leader in that category. Mitchell finished the game with 34 points, making 7-11 on three-point attempts, and five free throws and a couple of layups.

When the Ohio score topped 100, they subbed in the scrubs, but FGCU couldn't make much headway and the final score was 104-62.

Fourth game: Stanford vs Belmont

Belmont had shown a lot of skill in beating Gonzaga the day before and we were concerned about Stanford's chances. However the game started well with a 9-0 run by Stanford. Points were coming from Alanna, Alexa, and Dijonai. Around the 5-minute mark Tara began to bring in subs: Nadia, Maya, Alyssa. But then the Belmont shooters began to hit and the lead disappeared. With a minute left in the quarter, all the starters had subbed back in! The quarter ended at 18-16.

The second quarter started with exciting action: Belmont tied the score at 18; Dijonai un-tied it with a three; Belmont tied it with a three; Alexa hit a layup; Belmont hit a layup to tie at 23; Alanna hit a three for a Cardinal lead of 26-23.

About this time a visiting relative who hadn't seen a lot of college basketball asked, "Do they keep up this pace the whole time?"

Yeah, they do. The game was close for the rest of the quarter. Stanford pulled out a 37-29 lead, then went cold while Belmont caught up, and the score at the half was a tie, 37-37.

The third quarter began with three more minutes of rapid scoring. It started when Marta hit a three to give Stanford a lead that in fact they would not relinquish. At 06:29, three and a half minutes into the quarter, Belmont called time. At that point there had been 20 points scored in the quarter, 13 by Stanford and 7 by Belmont, and the score stood at 50-44.

Then remarkably, Stanford's defense simply smothered Belmont, who went nearly ten minutes of game time without another bucket. The score was 64-44 in the fourth quarter before Belmont made its next goal. That ten-minute drought changed what had been a close competition into an easy win. However, Tara didn't sub in the B-team until the 2-minute mark.

Some good things in the Cardinal stats: Six players sank at least one three-pointer, the team shot 43% in all and 32% from long range, and committed only five turnovers.

Alanna led all scorers with 23 points, as well as eleven rebounds (her first double-double of the season). Alexa had eleven points (in 35 minutes). Dijonai had nine points and seven rebounds. Kaylee had eight points and eight rebounds.

Marta scored eight points, six rebounds, and seven assists (to one turnover). Marta's passing was remarkable: she created several fast-break buckets by firing from near mid-court to Alanna, Dijonai or Maya running to the basket for an easy layup. One pass to Maya was just a bit too high and too long, but Maya leaped for it and twisted in the air to make the layup as her body floated over baseline.

Tomorrow's games ...

... line up this way: At noon Kent State plays Memphis for seventh place. At 3pm DePaul and Gonzaga play for fifth. At 5:30 Belmont and FGCU play for third place.

At 8pm Stanford plays Ohio State for the championship. Odds have to favor the Buckeyes' zone defense and balanced inside and outside attack. But Stanford will try to show that they have learned a thing or two in the three weeks since they lost to the same team 64-85.

Here are game reports:

The game statistics,

And the audio press conference with Marta.