March 19, 2018

Cardinal cages Eagles 90-70 to advance to Sweet Sixteen

In the pregame press conference Tara spoke generously of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles' abilities, and how despite their "raining threes" slogan they also scored well in the paint — which in fact we had seen in their upset of Missouri in Friday's game.

In this game, the Cardinal defense caged the Eagle's inside game so effectively that of their 70 points, exactly 14 came from two-point field goals. Time and again an FGCU player would drive and find herself fenced off from the basket by two larger players, and have to pass the ball out.

In the early minutes the game seemed close, with FGCU hitting timely threes to stay in the game. However, almost every time an Eagle dropped a three, a Cardinal would respond soon after. For example, around the 3-minute mark, the Eagles' Lisa Zderadicka hit a three, bringing the Eagles within four at 19-15. Seconds later, DiJonai hit a three to restore the prior lead, and a possession later, Kiana hit one.

An exciting, entertaining first quarter ended with Stanford up 33-17. At this point the Eagles' 17 points comprised five three-pointers and two free-throws — nothing in the paint.

In the second quarter, Stanford's offense sputtered while FSGU kept shooting threes and making enough of them to catch up to within five, 40-35, with a minute left. The teams went to their locker rooms at 43-35 and the Eagles, presumably, felt they had a chance at the upset.

A few minutes into the third quarter came the highlight of the game. With the Eagles on offense, Brittany poked the ball away from their guard. Marta grabbed the loose ball and fired a three-quarter-court outlet pass toward Kiana racing toward the opposite goal. The pass was a bit too long and it looked as if it would go out of bounds, but Kiana overtook it and, while leaping over the end-line, fired backward behind her to Brittany for an easy layup.

(If video clip doesn't appear, click here to view it.)

This quarter ended with Stanford up 66-48. In the fourth, the Eagles hung on behind four three-pointers by China Dow, but Alanna, Brittany and DiJonai kept scoring to hold them off to the final minute, when both coaches put in their subs and the crowd stood to applaud the starters coming off the floor.

Alanna dominated the scoring early and late, with 28 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. She hit four of seven three-point shots and hit 11-21 overall (and incurred only two personal fouls).

Brittany had 17 points on 6-13 shooting, plus nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

DiJonai had 14 points in only 20 minutes of playing time, hitting 5 of 9 tries, including two of two three-point shots. She disrupted the Eagle's offense with three gaudy steals.

Kiana scored 12 points and recorded six assists (one of them, the highlight-reel save described earlier) against one turnover.

Marta had eight points, from hitting one three-pointer and five of six free throws. She had four assists against three turnovers.

Kaylee had six points, collected 12 rebounds and had two assists and two blocks.

Stanford now heads to Lexington KY to play Louisville on Friday evening. For the first time ever: Cardinal vs Cardinals!

Here are game reports and commentary:

The game statistics,

The video press conference with Tara, Alanna and Britt,

The game highlights video,

And a gallery of photos by Bob Drebin (

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