February 04, 2018

Cardinal stuns Ducks with McPhee outburst, 78-65

Two days ago, the 6th-ranked Oregon Ducks laid a 40-point whuppin' on Cal, using 28 points from their sophomore star, Sabrina Ionescu. The question coming into this game was, could Stanford's agile, smart defense contain the Oregon scorers and keep them from running away with the game? Most fans would have accepted a respectable loss, say by fewer than ten points, as a decent outcome for this road trip.

The Ducks certainly started like a national #6, with three quick makes by Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard. With the score 0-9, Tara did not call time but she did run in DiJonai, Nadia, and Maya to replace three starters. This change of faces got results, too, as DiJonai and Kiana scored, and Kiana dropped a three to tie the game. The quarter ended with Stanford up by one, 16-15.

In the second quarter Stanford briefly luxuriated in a five-point lead. Then Ionescu drove for a crowd-pleasing reverse layup, hit a three, was fouled and hit a free throw. From there the Ducks pulled away to a nine-point lead, going into halftime 32-41. In this quarter they outscored Stanford 16-26 and looked like winners.

It must be noted that, to this point, Brittany had notched only two points. During half-time, however, she apparently gulped an energy drink. Five minutes into the third quarter, she and Alanna had erased the nine-point deficit to tie the score. A few minutes later there was a hard collision between at least three players. Kiana left the floor holding a bloody nose. This was serious, as Kiana had contributed 14 points thus far, and was doing well on defense. She was able to re-enter the game briefly later, but as it turned out, wasn't needed for scoring.

The third quarter ended with Stanford ahead 57-54, having outscored Oregon 25-13. Brittany had 16 at this point. Although it was still anyone's game, and Alanna and Kaylee each had four fouls, it was at least a real contest.

The score stayed close for several more minutes. At 5:08, Ionescu made a free throw to bring the score to 67-65, a two point game; and everyone settled in for a nail-biting finish. That was not what ensued.

What happened was that Stanford shut Oregon down. The Ducks did not score another point in the remaining 5 minutes. Meanwhile, Brittany became unstoppable. In that time she hit a three, made a jumper, made another jumper off a steal by Kiana, made a layup, and a final jumper to finish the scoring. Part of the shutdown was due to crucial offensive rebounds by Alanna and Kaylee, and a steal by Marta, each of which gave the Cardinal an extra shot clock as the game was running out.

Brittany led all scorers with 33 points, a personal best, and 31 of them in the second half (she actually scored the last 19 points by the Cardinal). She had two rebounds and two assists as well.

Kiana had 14 points, four assists, two steals and a block.

Alanna had 14 points, two assists, a steal and four blocks. She pulled in seven rebounds, one of which, in the final minute, was very important in keeping the Cardinal in control.

DiJonai had six points, three assists and two steals, and worked hard to keep Stanford in the game in the first and second quarters.

Nadia had five points and a steal, and also helped stabilize the first quarter.

Marta played 35 minutes, scored only four points, but had five assists and two steals against a single turnover.

In general Stanford demonstrated recovery from its early-season problems. In particular, the Cardinal conceded only six turnovers for the game (against 15 for the Ducks), and hit 7 of 10 free-throw attempts.

With a high-profile road sweep of two highly-ranked competitors, Stanford will be up in the polls. The Cardinal now return home for what ought to be a successful stand against Colorado and Utah, and two games with Cal.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The game highlights video,

The Stanford audio press conference with Tara and Brittany,

The Oregon video press conference with Kelly Graves and Sabrina Ionescu,

And photos by Chris Pietsch (Eugene Register-Press):

Brittany on her 19-point run
DiJonai drives to the basket
Alanna and Sabrina Ionescu fight for possession
Kiana, Kaylee and Britt surround Ruthy Hebard

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