December 31, 2017

Cardinal Turns Away Trojan Onslaught, 72-65

In the pregame chalk talk, Tempe noted that the coaches were frustrated by the number of turnovers Stanford was allowing. She quoted Tara as saying, "You know, when you have the ball, they can't score." Frustration for the coaches would continue, as this game produced 18 Stanford turnovers.

The first quarter began with promise, when Marta unleashed a half-court pass to Maya at the basket for a layup. That was about the only highlight of the quarter. In the next three minutes Stanford ceded two turnovers and committed three fouls, allowing USC to take a 2-8 lead, and an 8-16 lead at the media timeout.

After that the Cardinal regained a bit of composure and the quarter ended at 15-20.

In the second quarter the turnover bug began to bite the Trojans and the Cardinal pulled up to 21-22, forcing Mark Trakh to call time at 7:38. Stanford took a brief lead on free throws by Alanna; then the lead changed hands twice more in the following minutes and the teams went into halftime with a score of 33-34.

The game began to turn Stanford's way in the third quarter. Alanna hit a three to take the lead. When USC tied the score, Brittany un-tied it with a three, and Stanford would hold that lead to the end, although it was still a close game when, at 6:48, USC's Kristen Simon expressed her opinion of a traveling call a bit too clearly and earned a "T".

The game was still tight, 53-50 when Stanford had the ball for the final possession of the quarter. For some reason, it was Brittany that ran the point, and she seemed confused, so Tara called time with 7 seconds left. When the ball was inbounded, Brittany again couldn't find anything to do with the ball, and it was almost a relief when USC's Aliya Mazyck stole it from her for a layup — which, fortunately, the referees ruled was not in time.

Brittany made up for that broken play by hitting a layup and then a three-pointer to open the scoring in the fourth quarter, giving the Cardinal some breathing room. Even so, the Women of Troy pulled within three twice more before the end. USC didn't start fouling for possession until very late, with less than 30 seconds on the clock. Stanford made 50% of their free-throws, and USC wasn't able to score, and the game ended 72-65.

Brittany led all scorers with 21 (her third consecutive 20-plus game), hitting 9 of 19 attempts (3-7 from long range). She also had three assists, two blocks, two steals, and eight rebounds,

Alanna had 13 points, three assists, three blocks, two steals, and six rebounds.

Kiana also had 13 points, the most important being two three-pointers in the first quarter that helped Stanford stay in the game when USC appeared to be running away with it.

Marta ran the point for 31 minutes and scored eight points. She made several long, dramatic passes for fast breaks. She had a career-high ten rebounds as well, and had six assists against only one turnover.

Although the Cardinal's turnover woes continued, their performance at the stripe got a lot steadier. They made their first seven free throws before slipping to 70% (14-20) by the end of the game.

They dominated the boards for the fifth consecutive game, out-rebounding the Trojans 41-31.

With two PAC-12 wins in the book and a likely return to a top-25 rating next week, Stanford heads out for its yearly trip to the desert.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

A video interview of Brit on Stanford's depth after return from injury: "It's a deep breath — like finally",

The audio press conference with Tara, Brit and Marta.

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