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:
- McCall helps No. 11 Stanford handle UC Davis 68-42, the Associated Press game recap
- Bertsch leads Aggies in battle with No. 11 Cardinal, the UC Davis Athletics game recap
- Wire-to-Wire, the Stanford Athletics game recap
- Cardinal women head into hoops break with a solid victory by Rick Eymer (Palo Alto Online)
- WBB: Stanford 68 UC Davis 42 from the CARDboard
The press conference audio with Tara and Bird.
And a gallery of photos by Al Chang (isiphotos.com).