March 24, 2017

Cardinal grinds out a win over the Longhorns, 77-66

Stanford had a narrow lead, gave it up, fell behind, then came back against a determined, aggressive Texas team to move to an NCAA tournament game against Notre Dame for the third year running.

An announced crowd of 3,160 occupied the lower bowl of the vast Rupp Arena for the first game of the night, Notre Dame versus Ohio State. Notre Dame won that fairly easily, and a lot of red-clad Buckeye fans and green-clad Irish deserted the scene, perhaps to watch the UCLA-Kentucky men's game. Considerably fewer were present when the Cardinal tipped off against the Longhorns.

The Longhorns' defense was aggressive and physical, and the refs were in tournament mode, letting a lot of contact go unwhistled. There were more players sliding or crashing to the floor than usual. Nevertheless, the Cardinal took an early lead and were up by one at the end of the first quarter, 18-17.

During the second quarter Alanna came out looking distressed and left the floor for several minutes, leading fans to think she was ill. However she soon returned and played well in the second half. Also during that quarter Texas took a lead, and were up seven at the half, 29-36.

The third quarter opened with a remarkable series that brought Stanford back into the game. Bird got an offensive rebound which led to Karlie hitting a three and being fouled. Karlie missed the and-one, but Alanna rebounded it and Marta passed to Brittany for another three.

So the Cardinal went from down-seven to down-one in a minute's play; and the game remained close for the next several minutes. Then Karlie hit a three to give Stanford its first lead of the half, 47-45; and when Texas tied the score she hit another three to retake the lead 50-47.

After a Bird jumper, Texas called time to regroup, but it didn't help. The quarter ended with Stanford up 54-49.

They maintained a lead of four to six points through most of the fourth quarter. At one point the Longhorns had come back within three, 58-55, when Bird lobbed a pass to Brittany standing in a group of Texans for a layup.

That put the Cardinal again up by two possessions and it stayed that way until Texas began the foul parade in the final minute. Stanford made most of their free throws, so the final score looks like an easier win than it really was.

Bird had a big game against the Longhorns' tough defense, scoring 23 points on 9-14 shooting, plus twelve rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.

Karlie played all 40 minutes and had fifteen points (4 of 8 from long range) plus five assists. As noted above, her threes were critical to bringing Stanford back into the game and then keeping a lead.

Brittany had twelve points, including five of six free throws, plus three assists and a block.

Alanna shook off whatever was bothering her in the second quarter to score ten points plus seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.

Kaylee had five points and three rebounds in only eight minutes on the floor.

Bri had six points and Marta, one, while between them they held Texas sharpshooter Brooke McCarty to only eight points, well below her season average.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video from Stanford Athletics,

The game highlights video from ESPN,

A Bird and Karlie highlights video,

The video press conference , with Tara, Bird and Karlie,

And a gallery of photos by Mark Mahan (SWBB Facebook).

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