January 05, 2018

Cardinal Quells 'Cats 61-46

The Arizona Wildcats have for years been the weaker of the two desert teams. That may be changing under new coach (and Arizona alum) Adia Barnes, who is said to have a stellar recruiting class coming in, but it continues to be the case at least for this season. Stanford came to Tucson expecting a win, and got one. In the course of it they demonstrated some continued growth and improvement.

One point of emphasis by the coaches was to reduce the number of turnovers. This they did, giving up the ball only 11 times, against an average of 16. Another was to improve free-throw accuracy. That didn't really happen; the team went 5-8 (63%). Fortunately in this game free throws were not critical to the outcome. Another emphasis was to improve passing, and the team seemed to be moving the ball more freely and quickly than before.

The first quarter and the third quarter opened in almost the identical way: with the shot clock burning down, the ball came to Brittany who drove and put the ball up for a score, almost on the buzzer. Those two plays were pretty much all of Brittany's highlights for the night. Either Arizona had figured out a magic defense against her or she was just having an off-day, scoring only 8 points and going 0-6 from beyond the arc. Fortunately on this night, Stanford could win without a brilliant game from their star senior.

The tone for the first quarter was really set by Kiana, who drained a three-pointer on each of three successive Stanford possessions. Soon after, she hit a jumper. With scores by four other Cardinal players, the first quarter ended 23-11.

In the second quarter, Stanford went through a short scoring drought and let the Wildcats come back within 6. Then Alanna took charge, making a layup, a three, a jumper, and assisting Alissa to hit a three, while the team's defense squelched Arizona. Stanford went to the locker room up 14, at 35-21.

Both teams made nice plays during the third quarter, but it ended 51-37. In other words, both teams had scored 16 points, and Stanford was still up 14. It appeared then that they just had to play good defense to run out the game. And so it proved, with Stanford matching every advance by Arizona and a little more, to finish 61-46.

An important reason for a relatively easy win was that the Cardinal out-rebounded the Wildcats 51-32, including leading 25-14 in offensive boards. That allowed Stanford to take more shots, 68 versus Arizona's 53 attempts.

Alanna carried the team through difficult patches, finishing with 12 points on 50% shooting, plus five rebounds, four assists, and three blocks.

Kiana also had 12 points, nine of them in that red-hot first quarter run, on 50% shooting. She played 34 minutes and had two assists and a steal, against one turnover.

DiJonai played only 22 minutes but into that time she packed ten points (on 5-11 shooting), nine rebounds, two assists, and three steals. She had a couple of tough rebound-and-putback plays under the basket.

As mentioned, Brittany had "only" eight points, seven rebounds, and two assists.

Nadia had five points, five rebounds and a block in a short 14 minutes playing time. In about the same time on the floor, Kaylee had four points and eight rebounds, plus three blocks.

Marta launched an uncharacteristic four three-point shots, hitting one; as well as being credited with five assists (against two turnovers), three steals and — a block!

On Sunday Stanford takes on the much stronger ASU team in Tempe.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

A video interview of Alanna,

And a gallery of photos by Stan Liu (Arizona Athletics).

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