January 08, 2016

Cardinal wears out the Utes

The final score of 72-52 does not reflect the flow of this game. The first half saw fast, fluid, entertaining basketball, with both teams zooming up and down the court at high speed, and the scoring very even. Stanford trailed most of the first quarter and barely edged to its first lead, 13-12 at the buzzer. The second period saw more of the same: high-speed motion, lots of missed shots on both sides, and close scores. At the half Stanford led 30-28 and the crowd braced for more tension and a close game.

Things began to break the Cardinal's way early in the third quarter, starting with three sparkling plays. Bri sent down a long outlet pass to Lili in the corner who fired a bullet to Erica under the basket. On the next possession Kailee, in a swarm of defenders, dropped a pass over a forest of arms onto Brittany for a lay-up. And on the next, Bri fired a bounce-pass to Brittany making a back-door cut for a layup. That one brought the crowd to its feet and put Stanford up by eight, its first real glimpse of daylight on the scoreboard.

From that point the game swung decisively Stanford's way. The Utes, whose offense had seemed confident, fluid and athletic to that point, began to flag, whether from physical or emotional fatigue it is hard to say. Their best player, 6-5 Emily Potter, had made nine points in the first half and appeared on the way to her usual 17, but she made nothing more, and her face showed visible frustration at the harassing defense. And the Cardinal began to hit three-point shots. The spread opened steadily to the final 20-point win.

Lili and Brittany led the Cardinal scoring with 16 points apiece, each with two 3-point goals. Lili is a shoo-in to join the Stanford 1000-point club on Sunday. Her career total is now 999.

Karlie had 13 points, mostly from three 3-pointers. Erica had her ninth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Marta started at the point for the first time, but Bri took over that position for most of the game. Bri had no difficulty pacing the speedy Ute guards. She disrupted the Ute offense with three steals and dished a career-high eight assists with just one turnover.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The video press conference, with Tara, Bri and Brittany,

And photos by Marcio Jose Sanchez (Associated Press):

Bri drives to the basket
Marta keeps her dribble going
Kaylee and Alanna say, "No more!" to the Ute's top scorer
Brittany scores
... and scores again
Brittany McPhee from Briana Roberson!
Cheers for Shannon's finishing touch

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