February 27, 2016

Cardinal busts Beaver zone for 1000th win

This was a remarkable and most gratifying win for Stanford fans. Often this season, when playing quality opponents, the Cardinal has struggled to find an offensive flow, starting slowly and having to work hard for narrow wins, or sometimes just losing badly. Against OSU in Corvallis, Stanford played well until the third quarter when OSU went to a zone defense and the Stanford offense simply collapsed.

The Cardinal that took the floor for this game seemed a different team. They played from the first minute with a confident, sure-handed dominance reminiscent of prior seasons. The offense handled the ball well (only 11 turnovers) and successfully attacked from every distance, even managing to score in the low block around Ruth Hamblin. The defense smothered the OSU shooters.

When the Beavers, trailing by 14, started the third quarter in a zone, the Cardinal seemed almost not to notice, and continued widening the lead to as much as 30 midway through the fourth quarter and an eventual 76-54 victory.

The starting lineup was different, primarily because Lili was away owing to the death of her grandfather. Brittany started in her place and had an excellent game, scoring 15 points with three blocks, four assists, and four rebounds. She also guarded the dangerous Jamie Weisner, who finished with only two points on 1-of-8 shooting compared to her average of 18 points at a rate of 48%.

Karlie also started and tallied her first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. She was the only player with double-digit rebounds.

Bri and Marta alternated at the point. Bri scored five points, but her greatest contribution was on defense, where she fronted Sydney Wiese on every trip down the court and had a lot to do with Wiese scoring only seven points and dishing two assists, well below her averages of 12.5 and five. It was great entertainment watching 5-7 Bri chasing 6-1 Wiese around a screen set by 6-6 Ruth Hamblin or 6-5 Marie Gulich.

The greatest individual performance was Bird's. The first sign of an unusual night was when, a minute into the second quarter, Erica found herself on the perimeter with no defensive players nearby, and calmly sank a three-point shot. It was the first of her career, but not the last; she made a second seven minutes later, and a third near the end of the third quarter. She also sank mid-range jumpers and layups, for a total of 25 points, a career high.

After the game, a happy team posed to celebrate the 1000th win for the Stanford Women's Basketball program. Stanford shares this milestone with only six other division-1 schools.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

Mary Murphy interviews Tara at halftime, when the Cardinal led 41-27,

Mary Murphy interviews Bird after the game,

The Stanford press conference audio, with Tara, Bird and Brittany,

The OSU press conference audio, with Scott Rueck and Ruth Hamblin,

And a gallery of photos from Stanford Athletics.

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