November 12, 2017

Hounded out of Columbus by Huskies, 53-78

This game was the inverse of the previous one. Against Ohio State, Stanford played equal in the first half but was stifled in the second.

Against the Huskies, the Cardinal was flattened in the first half, but in the second played at a respectable level. Although the final was a 25-point loss, it could have been much, much worse without a strong second-half recovery.

UConn's defense dominated the first half. The Huskies seemed to anticipate every Cardinal move. Pass after pass was deflected or intercepted. In one single Stanford possession, UConn deflected three successive passes, two recovered by Stanford and the third going out of bounds.

This extremely smart, active defense led to 24 UConn points off 15 Cardinal turnovers, and held the Cardinal to a dismal 16.7% field goal percentage in the half.

As a result Stanford scored only 10 points in the first quarter, and an abysmal four points in the second, to end the half at 14-49. During the halftime break we began wondering if this could be a record-bad game. Stanford seemed to be on track to match its previous records for lowest score (31) and worst FG percentage (19.3).

We'll never know what Tara had to say, or what adjustments were made, but the second half was a much better story, so that no bad records were matched or broken in this game.

In fact, Stanford outscored UConn 19-18 in the third quarter, and in the fourth, when Geno Auriemma was giving his reserves playing time, Stanford won the quarter 20-11.

During the second half Dijonai proved herself as an offensive threat, scoring a career-high 21 for the game on 8-15 shooting. She scored in the paint, and hit 3 of 8 three-pointers, as well as collecting seven rebounds.

No other Cardinal made double digits. Brittany had nine points, but only made 3 of 12 attempts: UConn was clearly ready for her usual slashing drives to the basket, and she hit only one of five long-range shots. Alanna had eight points and the game-high 10 rebounds.

Kiana had 26 minutes at point and although she notched no assists, she scored seven points, hitting a three, a layup, and two free-throws, and committed no turnovers. Marta, in her 14 minutes at the point, took a single three-point try and hit it, as well as dishing three assists. Shannon also hit her single three-point try.

This weekend has given the team what Tara expected: a clear illustration of what they need to do to be great. But it has also shown how close they can be to the elite level, having played even with OSU for a half, and with the Huskies for another half. In coming weeks we will see how well these lessons have been learned.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

And the audio press conference , with Tara.

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