December 30, 2016

Stanford dodges the ASU fork, 64-57

This game was tough both physically and emotionally. The Sun Devils' athletic, swarming defense in the paint stymied Bird, Brittany, Nadia, and any player that brought the ball past the line. Again and again a drive ended with the ball off the rim and into the hands of a player in yellow. The first quarter had ASU up 18-14. At the half Stanford enjoyed a one-point lead, 32-31.

The game turned on two key minutes.

With one minute to play in the third quarter and the score 43-42, Nadia stole the ball and Marta fed Karlie for a three. After several misses, Nadia grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in on the buzzer, ending the quarter 48-42.

The Cardinal clung to that lead as the Sun Devils clawed back. With one minute left in the game and the score 59-57, ASU passed the ball out of bounds. The refs conferred at length over the replay to see which player had the last touch; and awarded the ball to Stanford.

ASU forced a held ball with 0:24 to play, the arrow pointing Stanford's way. Now came a crazy play. With three seconds on the shot clock, Karlie inbounded the ball on a high lob to Bird in front of the bench. Bird had to reach high to catch it and might have intended to immediately shoot it — or not. Before anyone could know, ASU's Quinn Dornstauder reached up and touched Erica's arm. The ref decided it was a shooting foul and awarded Erica three free throws, which she made, icing the win.

Karlie had the game-high 16 points on 6-9 shooting as well as scrapping continually, taking endless punishment as she pursued every loose ball. She played every one of the grueling 40 minutes, the only player on either side to do so.

Bird ended with 12 points (including eight of nine free throws) and eleven rebounds for her sixth double-double of the year.

Brittany scored eight points. Thwarted by the Sun Devils' defense under the basket, she took two shots from beyond the arc and sank both of them.

Nadia also scored eight points. Marta made seven and showed a new determination to score, driving to the basket eight times. She would have connected more than three times against a different defense than ASU's.

Now the team can retire to the hotel for a New Year's Eve that will probably feature more ice bags than iced drinks, before playing Arizona on Sunday.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Karlie,

A video about that decisive last play,

And a gallery of photos by Cheryl Evans (azcentral/sports) — these capture the flavor of this intense, physical game:

December 29, 2016

Challenges and Opportunities, The Pac 12 Season Begins

By Warren Grimes

Stanford women’s basketball begins the conference season this weekend with the desert trip to the Arizona schools. Friday afternoon’s game against ASU will be a heavy duty encounter against one of the conference’s top schools. In national polls, Stanford is more highly ranked, but ASU is a perennial top team in the conference, was conference co-champion last year, shares Stanford’s 9-2 record in non conference games, and plays especially tough at home. Last year, ASU bested Stanford both home and away. The game will be a major test for Stanford.

This Stanford team begins the season with major challenges and opportunities. Stanford has three starters who routinely score in double figures: Erica McCall (16.7 average), Brittany McPhee (14.8 average) and Karli Samuelson (11.2 average). Each plays solid defense, with Samuelson leading the team in steals and McCall leading in boards and blocks. If there is a surprise here, it is McPhee – she averaged only 6.5 points last season.

Looking beyond this impressive starting trio, the remaining players show substantial but as yet not fully realized potential. There are major question marks at the point guard position and also at the power forward position.

At the point guard, both Briana Roberson and Marta Sniezek have started. Roberson has averaged 5.8 points per game to Sniezek’s 4.4 per game. But Sniezek is, by far, the team leader in assists (4.7 assists per game to Roberson’s 2.5). What is needed is a point guard who can lead the team but also provide more of a scoring threat.

An intriguing possibility is that Anna Wilson, who played her first collegiate game against Yale earlier this week, could provide a scoring spark while leading at the point. In her inaugural effort, Wilson scored 11 points in just 17 minutes of playing time. She had one assist and one steal during this time, but her potential as a difference maker must be established against top quality opponents. If she can stay healthy, her future looks bright.

At power forward, Stanford began the season with Kaylee Johnson getting most of the time (Johnson is still recovering from a stress fracture). Alanna Smith and freshman Nadia Fingall have played more in Johnson’s absence. The three players bring different skill sets to the court. Kaylee is a veteran and a force in rebounding and defense. When she returns, Johnson needs to assert herself offensively, but may have to fight to regain a starting position.

Fingall is a power forward (or post) in the true sense. She offers strength, finesse and smarts. Fingall has averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 boards while playing just over 14 minutes per game. Fingall started against Yale and performed well. Perhaps she has earned a starting position for conference games.

Smith has averaged 5.5 points and 6.2 boards in just under 17 minutes per game. She shot the three ball at 33% last year, but has had a disappointing 15% conversion rate so far this season. Smith has shown some progress in improving her assists and turnover numbers.

There are others who may earn a regular role in the rotation, including freshmen DiJonai Carrington and Mikaela Brewer.

To win the conference, Stanford must get both offense and defense from all five players on the court. It would be encouraging if all five starters could average a minimum of 10 points per game. If defenders can sag off the point guard or power forward, Stanford’s offensive potential will be limited. Karlie Samuelson is the only starter to consistently hit three point shots. Three point shooting percentages are down for McPhee, Roberson, and McCall. Sniezek has attempted only 4 (and converted 1). That’s not going to win games against top flight opponents.

Quick and precise interior court passing is another key to the team’s success. That sort of passing was in evidence against Yale, but must be proven against higher quality opponents.

The potential for a fine conference season is there. I’ll be watching to see who steps up.

December 28, 2016

Cardinal takes Bulldogs for a romp, 102-44

This final non-conference game of the year was a delight for the fans from the start when, less than a minute in, Bri stole the ball and handed it to Karlie for a layup. By the first media time-out the score was 15-4 and the Yale players were visibly flustered on offense. From there it only got better for Stanford and worse for Yale. The final stats tell the tale: Rebounds were 49-33. Stanford had thirteen steals and five blocks, while Yale had one of each.

The big news was Anna Wilson's debut. During the pre-game talk, Kate Paye announced that Anna had at long last been cleared to play. She had been held out from full-contact practice since suffering a concussion in the McDonald's High School All-American game last April. Now Kate not only said she had cleared the concussion protocol but would probably see action in this game. This was good news, although nobody had high expectations for a player who can have had only limited practice time.

Anna entered the game as the point guard around the 6:00 minute mark in the second quarter. She moved smoothly and confidently and seemed to know what she was doing and where she ought to be. Then, a minute in, she was guarding the Yale point guard as Yale inbounded the ball. Anna simply reached around the girl, took the ball from her hands, coolly ducked under the startled Yale center leaping at her, and laid the ball in the basket. Let the record show: Anna Wilson's first college points were on a steal of an inbound.

A minute later she passed to Karlie for a three, and before the end of the quarter she sank a three of her own. In the fourth quarter she hit two more threes, for a total of eleven points on 4-7 shooting -- a most impressive start for her first game.

Everyone who was available (Kaylee and Mikaela were not) played and scored.

Karlie led the scoring with 21 points, including four of five three-point attempts, and was a complete defensive pest, frustrating the Bulldogs' every move.

Bird had 19 points on seven of nine shots, including hitting her only three-point try.

Brittany had 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Nadia, who started for the first time, had eight points on four of four shots, six rebounds and four assists.

Alanna had seven points, thirteen rebounds (a career high), and two blocks. The second was a memorable block of a three-point attempt. The shooter was just in front of the Yale bench and Alanna sprang at her and swatted the ball out with a slap that could be heard across the court.

Alexa had six points, hitting two three-point attempts. Dijonai had six; Bri and Shannon had four; and Marta had two (and four assists and three steals).

All in all, a fine romp at Maples, sending the team off to Arizona on a high note.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The press conference audio with Tara, Anna, and Karlie,

The game highlights video,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com).

We asked for parity and it's here

Pac-12 play has just begun (Washington and Washington State played yesterday), and it's going to be as tough a run as it ever has been.

Ryan Thorburn (Oregon Register-Guard) reports on the superlative Pac-12 teams and players: Pac-12 has been the nation’s toughest women’s basketball conference so far
and Pac-12 women’s basketball team-by-team capsules

December 26, 2016

Up next: Cardinal wraps up first third of season at home

The Cardinal come home to Maples for their last non-conference game of the season — against the Yale Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00. Yale, who was picked to finish sixth of eight in the Ivy League, is exceeding expectations. The Bulldogs lost two games early in the season but have won seven of their last eight and stand third in the league with an 8-3 record.

The Bulldogs aren't a very big team. Aside from 6-6 freshman center Jessica Lezon who has played just a few minutes, four of them are just an inch or two over six feet tall. But they do a good job of rebounding with 42 per game — the same as the Cardinal and five more than their opponents.

The Bulldogs rely on the long ball. They take 40% of their shots from beyond the arc and make about a third of them. Their top three scorers are junior forward Jen Berkowitz (14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg), senior guard Lena Munzer (12.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and junior guard Tamara Simpson (11.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg).

Stanford has played (and beat) Yale twice before, but not for a long time — in 1979 and 2007.

Jayne at Yale in 2007

I hope that those of you with long memories aren't looking forward to seeing ex-Washington coach "Sit down Chris" at Maples again. After ten years at Yale, she left in 2015 to move on to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and was replaced by former assistant Allison Guth.

Here are Yale's roster and season statistics.

December 21, 2016

A capital victory for the Cardinal

It may have had something to do with the low frame rate of the internet video stream, but it seemed that both teams in this game were dashing up and down the floor with the jerky speed of a Keystone Kops flick — and with about as much finesse.

The first quarter was full of misses and turnovers on both sides, ending with Stanford up 11-10 and both teams with low shooting percentages. The GW defense was swarming Bird in the paint and the referees seemed to have defective whistles.

The game broke decisively the Cardinal's way in the second quarter. The Colonials went stone-cold on shooting, passing nearly 11 minutes — from 6:15 in the first quarter, to 5:01 in the second quarter — with no field goals. Meanwhile the Cardinal broke loose, scoring 30 in the second quarter to end the half with what one might have expected to be a decisive lead of 41-19.

Decisive? Not so much. GW coach Jennifer Rizzotti (a familiar figure to Bay Area fans from her days as UConn's point guard and an all-star for the New England Blizzard of the ABL) got her team on track during the break and they came out hot, going on a 12-3 run to get in striking distance and forcing Tara to call a time-out.

In the fourth quarter the Colonials got within eight at 58-50, but from there, the Cardinal pulled away again to the eventual 71-52 victory.

A large part of GW's ability to stay in the game was their vigorous rebounding. They ended with 41 total (21 offensive) to the Cardinal's 36 (only six offensive), but failed to capitalize on that advantage. They took 14 more shots than the Cardinal, but made only 28% of them, while the Cardinal made 49% of theirs.

Brittany led all scorers with 21 points on 8-11 shooting. Bird had a double-double with 13 very hard-earned points, which got her into the Stanford 1000-point club, and 10 rebounds. Nadia came off the bench to score 11, plus six rebounds. Bri had 10 points on 5-7 shooting.

Marta had seven points including three that came when Karlie drove toward the basket, the GW defense collapsed on her, and she fired to Marta who was standing on the three-point line with at least 15 feet of clear hardwood to the nearest defender. Marta calmly dropped a three as if it was a warm-up, which greatly pleased the large Sniezek contingent in the stands.

Here are game reports and commentary:

And the game statistics.

December 18, 2016

Cardinal turned away in Tennessee, 51-59

Stanford has won only one regular-season game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, four years ago. After the first quarter of this game, they probably thought they had a chance at a second victory.

A men's game went overtime, so ESPN joined the game in progress when, with four minutes to play in the first quarter, Stanford was up 15-4 and Tennessee had turned the ball over seven times. At the end of the first quarter, Stanford led 17-11 and seemed to have control of the game. The 9,147 fans were very quiet.

Then the Lady Vols seemed to remember they were playing at home. They clamped down their defense and suddenly the Cardinal's shots, when they were taken at all, were clanking off the rim. The game was tied 29-29 at the half.

During the second half Stanford went long minutes without a score. Against a mostly-zone defense the three-point game is crucial, and the Cardinal shooters hit only four of twenty tries.

The Cardinal defense continued to work, so Tennessee never pulled out to a large lead, but it proved impossible to close the gap, and a fairly ugly defensive game trickled to an end.

Karlie had thirteen points from 5-13 shooting. Bird also had thirteen and Brittany had eleven; nobody else came near double digits.

Here are game reports and commentary:

And the game statistics.

December 17, 2016

Cardinal vs Orange

The Stanford Cardinal and the Tennessee Lady Vols will meet tomorrow for the 34th time in a series that began in 1988.

The meeting between these storied rivals is always a big game and that's especially so this season.

The Cardinal is coming off a two-week finals break and needs this quality win to establish a strong position in the Pac-12. Tara says, "... not ideal scheduling, but it’s what we’ve got. We’ve been practicing well. I think we’ll play well.”

Tom Fitzgerald (San Francisco Chronicle) reports: Stanford women end 2-week break with game at Tennessee

To date, there hasn't been enough on Tennessee's resume to warrant a spot in the top 25. Charlie Creme (espnW) says, "Sunday's visit from the Cardinal is as big as any mid-December game can be."

Holly Warlick says, "Stanford is going to test us in every way. We’re going to see if we’re up to the challenge."

Dan Fleser (The Tennessean) reports: Holly Warlick, Lady Vols wishing big against Stanford

The game previews from the athletic departments are loaded with statistics about the rivalry:

Lady Vol Hoops Central: vs. #10 Stanford
Return at Rocky Top, Stanford back from finals break at Tennessee

December 14, 2016

Next up: A visit to Lady Vols and Colonials

Our Cardinal student/athletes are halfway through their finals and will soon be raring to get back to basketball. They’re going to need all their energy and skill and confidence on the upcoming road trip to Tennessee and Washington DC.

They play the Tennessee Lady Vols on Sunday at noon:

and the George Washington Colonials on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00:

  Tennessee Lady Vols

The Lady Vols' chemistry looked bad for much of last season and they had a bumpy ride, losing a record-breaking 14 games in the regular season. Then things improved and they ended the season with a run to the Elite Eight after impressive tournament wins over Arizona State and Ohio State.

Unfortunately for them, the improvements have not carried forward into this season. They've lost four of their last five games, falling to every quality foe they encountered (Penn State, Virginia Tech, Baylor and Texas). They began the season ranked No. 12/13, but slipped down week by week and out of the Top 25 last week. Charlie Creme thinks that the Lady Vols' making it to the NCAA tournament this season may hinge on their beating the Cardinal on Sunday.

The Cardinal beat the Lady Vols last season at Maples 69-55, but Tennessee is always a dangerous opponent, especially at home on Pat Summitt Court in front of 9,000 orange-clad fans.

The Lady Vols have a short bench, with just nine active players (two others are rehabbing knee injuries). Their three top scorers and rebounders are:

  • 6'7" redshirt junior center Mercedes Russell is a power in the paint. She averages 16.3points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

  • Redshirt junior guard Diamond DeShields, in her second active season at Tennessee after transferring from North Carolina as a sophomore, averages 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. She has a few more turnovers than assists, about four of each per game.

  • Junior guard/forward Jaime Nared is a tall, athletic guard. She averages 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds (one third of them O-boards) per game.
Here are the Lady Vols' roster and season statistics.

  George Washington Colonials

George Washington Univerity, which is located in Washington DC, plays in the Atlantic-10 conference. The Colonials have long been an impressive member of the Atlantic-10. They're the reigning two-time champion of the conference.

They have a new coach this season — Jennifer Rizzotti, star point guard of UConn's first national championship team in 1995. She plans to continue the Colonials' winning tradition and has made a fine start. The Colonials currently rank second in the A-10 with a 7-4 record. Graham Hayes (espnW) ranks them eighth in the mid-majors. (If you want to know more about the Colonials' new coach, read Jennifer Rizzotti finds right fit at George Washington.)

The Colonials led the nation in rebounding last season. Their star center Jonquel Jones, who tallied 27 points and 17 rebounds against the Cardinal at Maples, has graduated. But the Colonials are still dominant on the boards this season — third in blocked shots (71), sixth in total rebounds (484) and No. 30 in rebounds per game (44.0). (Stanford, with two fewer games, has 47 blocks, 388 rebounds, and 43.1 rpg.)

The Colonials' leading players are:

  • Senior forward Caira Washington gets the most rebounds (7.5 rpg) and the most blocks (2.2 bpg) and the most points (12.6 ppg). She takes all her shots within the arc and makes 70.5% of them – the best field goal percentage in the nation.

  • Senior guard Hannah Schaible tallies 11.6 points, 3.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game.

  • Graduate transfer forward Lexi Martins tied for first in all of Division I in double-doubles (24) last season and was third in rebounding (13.6 rpg) while a senior at Lehigh. She comes off the bench for the Colonials and is averaging 6.7 rebounds and 8.6 points per game.

Here are the Colonials' roster and season statistics.

December 12, 2016

First bracket of the season

As non-conference play draws to a close, Charlie Creme (espnW) has published his first bracket of the 2016-17 season.

He has ten (!) Pac-12 teams in the bracket:

Bridgeport Region
2 UCLA
4 Arizona State
Oklahoma City Region
3 Washington
8 California
Lexington Region
7 Oregon State
9 USC
11 Utah
Stockton Region
4 Stanford
7 Colorado
9 Oregon
Click here for the complete bracket.

Click here for Charlies' story about Tennessee and Texas being absent from the bracket, which concludes, "That makes Sunday's visit [to Tennessee] from the Cardinal as big as any mid-December game can be."

December 10, 2016

Third watch list for Bird

Bird, who has has also landed on lists for the 2017 Naismith Women's College Player of the Year and the 2017 Wade Trophy. is one of 30 players on the John R. Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30.

Read more: John R. Wooden Award® Announces 2016-17 Preseason Top 30

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.

November 20, 2016

Matadors subdued in productive win

The Cal State Northridge Matadors provided Stanford with a pleasant scrimmage and tune-up before next week's Thanksgiving tournament. The final score of 88-54 makes it look perhaps a little easier than it actually was; everyone had to work hard.

The difference was more in the relative defenses than in the offensive attacks. During the first quarter the Matadors were fresh and feisty on defense, and the Cardinal offense was anything but dominating. At the first media time-out, the Stanford starters were shooting a combined 2-10. However, the Cardinal defense was even tighter, so at that point the score was 7-3, and the Matadors were never in danger of taking a lead thereafter.

Even in the second quarter, Tara began subbing in other players. By half-time, Nadia, Dijonai, Alexa and Mikaela had all seen some minutes. In the second half, with the Matadors tiring and perhaps a bit discouraged, Nadia, Dijonai and Shannon had good stretches of play and established career marks for points:

* Nadia showed a promising ability to score in the post with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting ... and she grabbed seven rebounds.

* Shannon exceeded her prior best (five points at UC Davis last fall) with eight points in just seven minutes.

* Dijonai bested her prior mark (five points against Cal Poly) with seven points and five rebounds.

Of the starters, Erica had 17 points and five rebounds; Brittany had 14 points and Karlie had six. Kaylee had seven rebounds, but only 4 points on 1-9 shooting.

Prior to the game, Tempe told the fans in Kissick auditorium that Marta would not be starting, and when asked why, said she would start again "when she can shoot as well as she does in practice." Marta may have gotten the message: although she did not start, she played 20 minutes and scored four points on 2-5 shooting.

The team leaves early Tuesday for a Thanksgiving tournament in Cancun, where they will play three games in three days. This game was a good tune-up for that marathon, where it will be important to field lots of bodies.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The press conference audio with Tara and Nadia,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com)

November 18, 2016

Cardinal zagged at home

The Gonzaga Bulldogs came into Maples 0-7 against Stanford, but they rode a combined 44 points from Jill Barta and Elle Tinkle to what for them was a historic first victory.

"If someone had to steal a win in Maples, I'm glad it was her."

The game was mostly close: the Zags were ahead by one, 15-16, after the first quarter; and at the half they were still ahead by one, 27-28.

The game seemed to take a decisive turn in the opening of the second half, when Barta and Tinkle combined for fifteen points in three minutes, forcing Tara to call time at 6:16 with the Cardinal trailing by 10, 33-43. But, following the timeout, Stanford put on a defensive clinic that held the Zags to only one point in the next four minutes, while the Cardinal slowly climbed back into the game to take a lead of 46-44. This quarter that had started so badly ended with Stanford ahead 51-46.

Gonzaga closed that gap in the fourth quarter, and with 0:27 were again up by one, 63-64. The Cardinal did the usual last-minute fouling but were unable to score on any possession, and the Zags sealed the game with free-throws, 63-68.

Brittany had another excellent outing with 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block.

Bird had her first double-double of the season — 17 points and eleven rebounds.

Karlie had ten points , three assists and three steals, and showed her usual intense defense.

Bri was a fierce defender and dished six assists. She shot only 2-8, but one of her two hits was a morale-boosting three-point shot that answered one by Gonzaga.

Alanna made some nice plays and tallied five points and four rebounds.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The press conference audio with Tara and Bird,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (isiphotos.com). Bob Drebin/isiphotos.com