January 22, 2017

Cardinal's tenacious defense bedevils ASU, 66-56

Another quick-start first quarter set the Cardinal on the road to a home win against the always dangerous Sun Devils.

In the prior game against Arizona, Stanford opened with hot shooting. This time they took advantage of cold shooting by ASU.

The Sun Devils had an absolutely horrible time shooting in the first quarter. Their offensive possessions seemed confused and tentative, and they couldn't seem to hit anything. The quarter ended with the Sun Devils 3-15 on field goal attempts and Stanford ahead 14-7.

A quarter-long streak of bad shooting can be written off to luck, but at the end of the game ASU still trailed Stanford in shooting percentage, 29% to 45%, and such a game-long gap has to be credited to Stanford's defense, which was focused and intense throughout.

One defensive play will be on the year-end highlight reel for sure: Marta leaned in and poked the ball away from the ASU point guard. Both women lunged for the loose ball but Marta controlled it and, stretched full length on the floor in front of the scorers' table, tossed the ball to Karlie who lobbed a half-court pass to Bird streaking to the basket for a lay-up.

Stanford had important offensive moments as well.

In the third quarter the Cardinal opened a lead to as much as 22 points, but then ASU began to creep back in. At 6:20 in the fourth quarter, ASU had closed to fourteen. Charli Turner Thorne, perhaps sensing a momentum shift, called a timeout. Just out of the timeout, Bri hit a two-point jumper, and on the next possession, hit a three. That put an end to any hope of a momentum swing in the Sun Devils' direction.

Bird had the team-high 18 points on 6-10 shooting, including one three-pointer; the team-high nine rebounds; and one monster block, which gave her a great deal of pleasure.

Karlie had 15 points — 2-5 from beyond the arc plus two drives through ASU defense for layups and 5-5 on free-throws. She played for 37 minutes and also had six rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal.

Brittany had 13 points on 4-9 shooting, including one three-pointer, and grabbed five rebounds. Late in the second quarter Brittany fell and seemed to injure her right ankle. She left the court limping. However she came out as normal at the start of the second half and resumed playing.

Bri had seven points, including the critical five points in the fourth quarter that squelched an ASU uprising.

Kaylee had six points from three tough shots in the paint.

Marta drove for a layup and later hit three of four free-throws for a total of five points. She pestered the ASU guards mercilessly, getting two steals and causing several more turnovers.

This game ended a home stand on a very positive note and gave the team a good send-off to the Washington schools.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The video press conference with Tara and Bird,

The game highlights video,

A gallery of photos by Nhat V. Meyer (Bay Area News Group),

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

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