December 29, 2017

Cardinal Cages the Bruins, 76-65

Stanford came into this first game of the PAC-12 season from a loss to Tennessee, with a record of 6-6 and dropped from the AP Top 25 for the first time in forever. A win was badly needed but would have to be taken from the consensus PAC-12 leader and national eleventh-ranked team, UCLA.

At the pregame meetup, Kate Paye said that UCLA was the PAC-12 team most like Tennessee in their size and athleticism, so that "all the things we could have done better against Tennessee, like getting back on defense, this is a second chance to get them right."

That lesson certainly seemed to have taken, because at the end of the first quarter, Stanford was up 14-9 and UCLA was shooting only 17%. In the end, UCLA was able to hit only 31%. They took half again as many shots as Stanford, but they missed many more; and that just created more chances for Stanford to scoop up rebounds, ending with 48 to to the Bruins' 33.

Several times during the game, UCLA almost closed the gap, but each time Stanford was able to shut the door with a scoring run and kept the lead for the entire game. Midway through the second quarter the score was 19-18; four minutes later it was 30-18. Early in the third quarter the score was 34-33; five minutes later it was 46-36. The third quarter ended at 46-44; five minutes into the fourth quarter it was 60-48, and UCLA couldn't threaten again.

Defense was not a one-way street; UCLA's style of aggressive, reaching, interfering defense gained them 11 steals and led to a total of 20 Stanford turnovers. Especially in the final minutes, the Bruins pressed every Cardinal inbound and got repeated turnovers. Fortunately for Stanford, UCLA was unable to capitalize on these. Kiana and DiJonai made their free-throws in the final minute to seal the result.

Brittany made 63% of her shots and led all scorers with 26 points. She played 27 minutes, so as with the Tennessee game (27 points in 28 minutes), she scored about a point per minute of play. She also had seven rebounds and four assists.

Alanna had notched a double-double early into the second half; she ended with 14 points (including two 3-pointers), 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Nadia scored 10 points, hitting four of six shots. More than once during the second half, when UCLA's defense spread the perimeter and made it hard to pass toward the basket, the answer was to toss the ball to Nadia on the free-throw line for an easy jumper. She also had six rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

DiJonai had seven points in only 10 minutes on the floor. In one highlight-reel play, Nadia drove toward the basket, drawing the defense, and at the last second flipped the ball horizontally four feet to DiJonai on the other side of the key for an open layup.

Three players had a greater effect on the game than their scoring might suggest. Kaylee had just four points on two of three layups, but played 33 minutes of defense with only two personal fouls.

Marta had four points, all from free throws, but played 40 minutes while keeping the ball away from the grasping hands of Jordin Canada and Japreece Dean. She conceded three turnovers, but had five assists.

Kiana had four points, also all free throws, but they came in the final minutes when UCLA was fouling for possession. Kiana's four-for-four free throws kept the Bruins from gaining ground at the end.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

Brit highlights video: her ten field goals.

A video interview of Brit, "We just wanted to be fearless."

The video press conference with Tara, Brit and Nadia,

A gallery of photos by Richard Ersted (

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