February 17, 2017

Cardinal out-battles the Bears

Stanford and Cal played a tight defensive contest that only turned the Cardinal's way in the final minutes. Both teams played excellent defense and none of Stanford's usual point leaders were able to break out and score freely.

However, as Tara says, a team is like an orchestra and different people solo at different times. Tonight the lead soloist was Alanna, who had a breakout game. Her twenty points in the first half kept Stanford in the game.

She also pulled off two dramatic plays that must have had an effect on Cal's morale. At the end of the third quarter, Cal had the ball leading by a point, 47-48. With two seconds left, Courtney Range attempted a three-point shot from in front the Cal bench, and Alanna's block slammed the ball out of play, so the quarter ended with that score. Then, only three seconds into the fourth quarter, Alanna hit a three of her own to give Stanford its first lead in many minutes.

Alanna, however, had to leave the game with five fouls when the score was tied 66-66 and there was still 2:16 to play. The game had to be decided by others, and a game's worth of drama was compressed into that short time.

With just a minute to play, Christine Anigwe fouled Bird, who made both free throws: Stanford up 68-66. (The Cardinal made 16 of 18 free throws in the game, an important factor in the outcome.)

On the following possession, Bird blocked a shot by Anigwe and Brittany controlled the ball. At Stanford's end of the court, the ball went out of bounds with 18 seconds left. The referees reviewed the video and awarded the ball to Stanford.

At this point, Cal made a critical error. They needed to foul, but somehow allowed the ball to be inbounded into the hands of Brittany, standing alone under the basket, and she simply laid it in: Stanford by four, 70-66.

Cal was unable to score in the remaining twelve seconds, but fouled Karlie who made two free throws to set the final score.

Alanna led all scorers with a career-high 27, including 3-5 three-point attempts, plus six rebounds, three blocks, and a steal.

Karlie had 17 points, including 3-4 from long range.

Bird had eleven points plus 14 rebounds for a double-double. She also had three steals, and a crucial block in the closing seconds.

Brittany gave her all for 27 minutes, but her shot was off tonight and she hit just three of fifteen attempts. But her last made shot was the one that gave the Cardinal a four-point lead with 12 seconds left to play.

Bri and Marta did their usual skillful ball-handling, combining for 12 assists with only five turnovers.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

"I'm just happy that I'm playing really well right now," said Alanna,

The audio press conference , with Tara and Alanna,

Cal's video press conference

And photos by Ben Margot (Associated Press):

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