January 31, 2016

Cardinal escapes Cougar mauling

This game did not start well. WSU got the opening tip, and quickly hit an unopposed three-point shot. Seconds later, they stole the ball and got a layup. The Cougars have a new coaching emphasis on defense, and a lineup featuring players from five nations, and they were clearly not the hapless Wazoo of past seasons.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal couldn't seem to find the basket with a flashlight. At 1:28, with the score 9-18, Tara called a timeout. At this time, all nine of Stanford's points were from free throws. At 0:30, Lili hit the first Cardinal basket, and the quarter ended at 11-18.

In the second quarter, the Cardinal began to make headway against the smart, aggressive Cougar defense. Lili hit an early jumper, then Karlie hit a three. The Cardinal got its first lead at 24-23 from a Brittany jumper, but the Cougars quickly got it back and the half ended at 25-27.

The game swung Stanford's way in the third quarter. WSU's shooting cooled off and Lili, Erica, Karlie and Kaylee all began to score. The Cardinal took back the lead and gradually increased it to 45-39 at the end of the quarter.

But the Cougars continued their tough defense and victory was not assured until late in the fourth quarter.

With three minutes left to play, the Cardinal was still ahead by just six points. Then Lili turned the tide with her third three-point jumper of the afternoon. A minute later, Karlie missed a long shot, but Kaylee grabbed the rebound and put it back in.

WSU was not able score again, so the two more three-point shots Lili hit in the last two minutes were only icing on the final score of 69-52.

Lili had a career-best 30 points in all, including five of six from long range.

Bird had her 12th double-double of the season with at 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Kaylee pulled in a season-best 19 rebounds, just three short of her personal best.

Brittany and Karlie had 9 and 10 points respectively and both played tough defense against skilled, physical opposition.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The audio press conference with Tara, Lili and Kaylee

A postgame video interview of Kaylee,

And a gallery of photos from Stanford Athletics.

January 30, 2016

Cardinal prevails over Huskies' zone

After Stanford failed to solve an OSU zone, and was apparently helpless against a UCLA zone, it was no surprise that UW came out in a 2-3 zone and stayed in it for most of the game. However, according to Tempe at the pregame talk, Tara had been reviewing video of Stanford offense against zones as far back as 2005, and the players took the floor with an air of being on a mission.

One player in particular was out for blood early: Lili hit five of five three-point shots in the first quarter, the majority of the first-quarter score of 26-13.

Lili continued hot into the second quarter, and other players picked up the pace, so that Stanford held at least a 13-point lead the rest of the game.

The Cardinal's determined defense kept them in control for the entire game. When asked at the pregame talk who would defend against the Huskies' star shooter Kelsey Plum, Tempe replied, "All five." And they did. Although Plum ended with 23 points, 11 of them were free throws and she made just five of 19 shots, far below her sizzling average.

Rebounding helped a lot too — the Cardinal finished ahead on rebounds 49-30.

Lili ended the game with 27 points (one short of her career high). Brittany had 12, and made several exciting drives to the basket. Bird also had 12 points and several times scored from inside a thicket of big UW post defenders. Karlie had 10 points and several times forced held-ball calls. Kaylee had 14 rebounds, four blocks and four assists. Although Marta took only one shot, she contributed six assists with just three turnovers to the victory.

All told it was a tough, determined performance that should have greatly improved the morale of both the team and its fans.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The audio press conference with Tara , Lili and Bird,

"I think our mentality changed," said Lili in the Pac-12 postgame interview,

A gallery of photos from Stanford Athletics,

And photos by Marcio Jose Sanchez (Associated Press):

Karlie drives to the basket
Lili drives to the basket
Lili puts up one of her 20 shots
Brittany drives
Brittany shoots over Deja Strother
Kelsey Plum dribbles past Kaylee
Alana defends against Chantel Osafor
Marta grabs a rebound
Bird battles for a loose ball

January 26, 2016

Lifetime Achievement Award for Tara

Coaching Corps is a corps of college students and community members who serve as volunteer coaches, mentors and role models in afterschool sports programs and whose mission is to change the game for the kids who need them most.

They work in low income communities to ensure that all kids get to reap the benefits of playing sports with a trained, caring coach; like teamwork, persistence and all of the good stuff that comes with a bat, a ball, a hoop and a goal.

Tonight Coaching Corps is holding its annual Game Changer Awards event, during which professional athletes will honor their own coaches who have had a profound influence in their lives and for their work in the community.

Tara is to be honored with the Coaching Corps Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented by Jennifer Azzi.

The awards ceremony will be hosted by CSN Bay Area’s Dave Feldman and Ahmed Fareed , along with Ros Gold-Onwude. The awards ceremony will be taped on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and aired on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. on CSN Bay Area.

For more information, see the event announcement.

January 24, 2016

Cardinal shut down by Bruins

Offense against a zone was a "point of emphasis" at Cardinal practices this past week, after OSU's switch to a zone defense led to its dramatic comeback against Stanford last Sunday.

UCLA treated Stanford to another forty minutes of practice against an aggressive 2-3 zone tonight, and the Cardinal were still unable to solve it. UCLA led from the start and Stanford could not find any sort of offense.

The Cardinal played strong defense, holding the Bruins to .400 shooting percentage, a bit below their season average.

But the Cardinal offense never took hold. Their shooting percentage was just .204, perilously close to the school-record low of .193 against UConn in 2012.

The low point of the evening was the second quarter. Stanford entered trailing 10-12, but could score only four points in the entire period, ending the half behind 14-28. They slipped a bit further behind in the second half to a final score of 36-56.

The only glimmer of a highlight would be Bird's being the top rebounder with 11 and just short of a double-double with nine points.

Lili was the only other Cardinal to score more than one field goal. She sank two of her 13 attempts, nine from beyond the arc, often as the shot clock was winding down.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play.

January 22, 2016

Cardinal blocks the Trojans

The Trojans opened the game with two quick baskets, the second off a turnover by Marta. That proved to be something of an omen.

The first quarter seemed to pass in a blur as both teams were pushing the tempo to such effect that at times the TV broadcast seemed to be stuck on fast-forward and the action was hard to follow. The Cardinal won the quarter 18-12 and seemed to be in charge of the game.

But in the second quarter, USC's defense bore down and Stanford began to give up turnovers. At the half, with the score 28-24, Stanford had given up twelve turnovers and USC had gained thirteen points off them. Stanford took better care of the ball in the second half, but by the game's end those numbers were 19 turnovers yielding 19 points.

Stanford would have been in serious trouble as a result, were it not for two other stats: rebounding, in which the Cardinal had a 12-rebound edge, and blocked shots. Stanford tallied 13 blocks for the game, which tied a school record set 27 years ago against Arizona State.

Those stats, plus more accurate shooting (46% to 30%) enabled the Cardinal to hold and widen its lead to a final ten-point victory (57-47)

Bird had her eleventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She also tallied five blocks (matching her personal best) and two steals.

Karlie matched Bird's game-high 14 points, including four of six long-range shots, two coming at very timely moments to break Trojan runs.

Lili was the Cardinal's third double-digit scorer with eleven points and was an unrelenting pest on defense.

Kaylee led all rebounders with 13 (in just 20 minutes). She also had three blocks, five points and two assists.

Bri was not available to play tonight. In her absence, Marta played the point for 35 minutes, double her season average. She again had about as many turnovers as assists, but contributed more aggressive offense than before with three gutsy drives to the basket on which she got two makes and a foul.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play

And a postgame interview of Bird: "We really came out to compete".

Stanford's McDonald's All-Americans, past and present

The first Girls' McDonald's All-American Game was in 2002. One of the players was Brooke Smith.

There have been 17 more McDonald's All Americans to attend Stanford since then, including this season's Anna Wilson, DiJonai Carrington and Nadia Fingall.

Stanford Athletics takes a look back at some of them in this photo essay. Not included in the photos are Ashley Cimino (2007) and Candice Wiggins (2004).

January 21, 2016

Like it or not, we've got parity

The Pac-12 is more competitive this season than it's ever been. Several of the teams are better than they've been in many years. Every night, anyone can beat anybody.

This season may not be as joyous as we spoiled Cardinal fans have come to expect, but it’s certainly packed with exciting games.

Rest of the Pac-12 catching up to Stanford, by Steve Gress (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

For the better part of 2 decades, Stanford dominated women's basketball in the Pac-12, by Anne M. Peterson (Associated Press)

January 17, 2016

Beavers dam the Cardinal

The Cardinal opened strong in a fast, ferociously athletic game. We had expected a close and competitive game and it was through the first quarter, which ended 12-11. In the second quarter, very much not as we'd expected, Stanford hit a lot of shots — a three from Brittany, a three from Alanna, and most pleasantly unexpected, three mid-range jumpers by Erica. At the half, Stanford led 30-21.

The Stanford offense and defense continued well through the media timeout in the third quarter, when the score was 38-23. This was to prove the Cardinal's high-water mark.

Jamie Weisner opened the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws. A minute later, she sank a jumper and the large crowd in Gill Coliseum erupted. Lili quieted the crowd with a jumper, Kailee quieted them again with four free throws, and the Cardinal were still ahead by 11.

Then the wheels came off the Cardinal wagon. From a score of 46-35 at the 7:00 mark, the Beavers held the Cardinal scoreless until the 1:30 mark. During that five and a half minutes, the Cardinal missed five shots and turned the ball over twice while the Beavers scored 17 points.

The final score, after some miscellaneous fouls and incidental scoring, was 50-58.

The Stanford highlight was Kailee, who had a career-high 14 points and was eight of eight on free throws, also a career high for free throws attempted and made.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The OSU postgame press conference, with Scott Rueck, Deven Hunter and Jamie Weisner.

January 15, 2016

Cardinal slips past the Ducks

The Cardinal had a brief lead at the start but then trailed throughout except for three seconds later in the game. Fortunately those were the final seconds of the game, and the Cardinal slipped out of Knight Arena with a 64-62 win.

The Cardinal likely would have had an earlier lead, except that the Ducks had an amazing night of three-point shooting. At the half, with Stanford trailing 32-36, the Ducks were 6 for 11 on threes, and Tara told the TV announcer that the Cardinal needed to step up their defense and, "stop those open threes".

That did not happen. Oregon made six more 3-point baskets in the second half and would have pulled far ahead had not Karlie matched two of them with threes of her own. At the start of the fourth quarter Stanford trailed by four, and still trailed by five at the 5:00 mark. Then layups by Kaylee and Bri made it a one-point game, 60-61, with four minutes left to play.

There followed an extraordinary three minutes of play in which nothing was scored. There were six Oregon possessions and five Stanford possessions, producing in all nine missed shots, three steals and two turnovers; and at the 0:53 mark the score was still 60-61. Then Jillian Alleyne made a free throw to make it 60-62.

Lili made a layup and was fouled, but missed the and-one: tie game, 62-62. On the Oregon possession Kailee got a block and Lili grabbed the rebound ...

... drove the court, and got another layup and foul, but again missed the and-one. Oregon grabbed the rebound and called time so as to inbound by their bench with two seconds to play, but were unable to get a shot off, and Stanford had the win.

With Bird present, but not suited up due to an undisclosed condition, the heroes were an L and three K's:

  • Lili started slow but ended with 16 points, including the crucial two layups in the final minute.

  • Karlie led all scorers with 18 points including four of five 3-point shots, which were important in keeping Stanford in the game under the Oregon 3-point barrage.

  • Kaylee had 16 points on 7-13 shooting, a personal best for field goals made and attempted. On defense, she blocked five shots and stuck close to the formidable Jillian Alleyne

  • Kailee played 30 minutes, had eight points, a personal best ten rebounds, and was frequently part of a defensive double-team on Alleyne (who ended the night with 14 rebounds, but only one field goal)

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

A video interview of Lili after hitting the game-winner against Oregon.

A gallery of photos by Adam Eberhardt (The Daily Emerald), mostly of Ducks, but good photos with captions.

A pregame Cardinal reunion

January 14, 2016

Looking ahead in Oregon

Before Stanford and Oregon State meet on Sunday, they have to play Oregon and Cal, respectively, on Friday.

Tara advocates "one game at a time". I expect that Oregon State coach Scott Rueck does too, but that doesn't keep sports journalists from speculating about upcoming contests. Here are a couple of stories from Corvallis:

Beavers hope to get past Stanford hurdle by Gary Horowitz (Statesman Journal)

Beavers have big test against Bay Area schools by Steve Gress (Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Lorenzo Rosas (The Stanford Daily) looks ahead only to tonight's game between the Cardinal and the Ducks: Women’s basketball begins road trip against struggling Oregon

As does Ryan Thorburn (Eugene Register-Guard): Ducks in search of a morale boost

January 10, 2016

Cardinal contains the Buffs

Colorado is at the bottom of the PAC-12 standings and came in with a depleted bench (only nine players suited up, not including Buff star Jamee Swan), so this should have been an easy win for Stanford. The final score of 71-56 might look as if it was easy, but it wasn't.

The Cardinal came out cold. At the pregame talk, Kate had said we like a fast pace and want to be faster. That was visible on the floor — as with Utah, the pace was blistering in both directions, but the Stanford shots weren't falling. Halfway through the first quarter the Cardinal were 1-9 on shooting and the Buffs were ahead 11-6. Stanford got its first lead on a Brittany 3-pointer and finished the quarter at 14-14.

Erica opened the second quarter with a nice jumper, and soon after ignited the crowd when she unleashed a long outlet pass to Karlie for a layup. The half ended 28-21 with Stanford looking as if it was finally in control.

Colorado had other ideas. They continued playing at speed and hitting shots, and the game remained close well into the fourth quarter. At that media timeout the score was 57-52. Both teams kept their starters on the floor to the end, but Stanford, aided by the fact that three Buffs were playing with four fouls each, was able to pull away from that point to seal the win.

Marta again started at point. She played 18 minutes and had two points, one assist and two turnovers. In the pregame talk Kate mentioned that Marta was "a born point guard" but that she's young.

The high scorer was Kaylee, with a career-high 17 points and 11 rebounds, to which she added a career-high four assists and two blocks. Bird also had a double-double (16 and 11), her tenth of the season — and three blocks and a steal.

In the post-game talk, Amy remarked that we had not had two posts with double-doubles since the regional game against Penn State in 2014 (Mikaela and Chiney).

Lili had 12 points, including two 3-pointers. The first one, which she launched at the 3:12 mark in the second quarter, took her into the Stanford 1000-point club.

Karlie contributed the fourth double-digit points (11), three assists, two steals and her usual fierce defense to the Cardinal victory.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The audio press conferences, first Tara with Bird and Kaylee, then Colorado coach Linda Lappe,

A postgame video interview of Kaylee by Mary Murphy,

January 08, 2016

Cardinal wears out the Utes

The final score of 72-52 does not reflect the flow of this game. The first half saw fast, fluid, entertaining basketball, with both teams zooming up and down the court at high speed, and the scoring very even. Stanford trailed most of the first quarter and barely edged to its first lead, 13-12 at the buzzer. The second period saw more of the same: high-speed motion, lots of missed shots on both sides, and close scores. At the half Stanford led 30-28 and the crowd braced for more tension and a close game.

Things began to break the Cardinal's way early in the third quarter, starting with three sparkling plays. Bri sent down a long outlet pass to Lili in the corner who fired a bullet to Erica under the basket. On the next possession Kailee, in a swarm of defenders, dropped a pass over a forest of arms onto Brittany for a lay-up. And on the next, Bri fired a bounce-pass to Brittany making a back-door cut for a layup. That one brought the crowd to its feet and put Stanford up by eight, its first real glimpse of daylight on the scoreboard.

From that point the game swung decisively Stanford's way. The Utes, whose offense had seemed confident, fluid and athletic to that point, began to flag, whether from physical or emotional fatigue it is hard to say. Their best player, 6-5 Emily Potter, had made nine points in the first half and appeared on the way to her usual 17, but she made nothing more, and her face showed visible frustration at the harassing defense. And the Cardinal began to hit three-point shots. The spread opened steadily to the final 20-point win.

Lili and Brittany led the Cardinal scoring with 16 points apiece, each with two 3-point goals. Lili is a shoo-in to join the Stanford 1000-point club on Sunday. Her career total is now 999.

Karlie had 13 points, mostly from three 3-pointers. Erica had her ninth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Marta started at the point for the first time, but Bri took over that position for most of the game. Bri had no difficulty pacing the speedy Ute guards. She disrupted the Ute offense with three steals and dished a career-high eight assists with just one turnover.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The video press conference, with Tara, Bri and Brittany,

And photos by Marcio Jose Sanchez (Associated Press):

Bri drives to the basket
Marta keeps her dribble going
Kaylee and Alanna say, "No more!" to the Ute's top scorer
Brittany scores
... and scores again
Brittany McPhee from Briana Roberson!
Cheers for Shannon's finishing touch

January 04, 2016

Cardinal Bedeviled in Tempe

Stanford's three-game streak of blowout wins smacked to a halt in Tempe, where the Sun Devils stifled the Cardinal with an aggressive, hyper-energetic defense that held Stanford to its lowest point total ever, 31-49. The previous low was 32 against Missouri in 1984 BT (Before Tara).

The game was a tale of two defenses. Stanford's defense was its usual solid self. To hold ASU to only 49 points for the game would be enough to win on most nights. Time after time ASU was forced deep into the shot clock ‐ the loud fan to our left seemed to be yelling "Seven! Six! Five!..." on every ASU possession.

The story was different, and worse, at the other end of the floor, where Stanford rarely got deep into the shot clock before shooting and missing, or turning the ball over on a bad pass. The Sun Devils harassed whoever had the ball, forcing awkward shots and desperation passes, and pursuing every rebound to the floor.

It wasn't a question of not being able to find a rhythm. It was a case of not being able to find the basket at all. On two occasions, the Cardinal got a steal and breakaway, and both times they missed the layup.

The stats tell the dreary tale. At the half, Stanford was shooting 0.200, four of 20. At the end, their percentage had improved to 0.256, 11 of 43, and one of nine on 3-point shots (Karlie had the single make). Rebounds: 45-61, a clear reflection of ASU's determination to have the ball at any cost. Remarkably, turnovers were nearly even (17-14), because it seemed as if Stanford was forever turning the ball over without getting a shot.

Lili was the Cardinal's leading scorer with seven (two baskets and three free-throws). Karlie was next with five, and four other players scored four.

This was a clear win for the Sun Devils. They weren't given the game by the Cardinal — they took it. Their total commitment to defense revealed major weaknesses in the Cardinal game, weaknesses that will hopefully be addressed before February 14 when the Sun Devils come to Maples.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

A gallery of photos by Patrick Breen (Arizona Republic),

And a few photos by Ross D. Franklin (Associated Press):

Karlie steals the ball from Quinn Dornstauder
Bird tries to shoot over Quinn Dornstauder
Lili grabs a rebound from Kelsey Moos

January 02, 2016

Cardinal de-claws the 'Cats

The flow of this game resembled that of the prior game against Chattanooga: the score by quarters was: 20-8, 19-7, 11-7 and 9-12. In short, it was another blow-out. Late in the fourth quarter Arizona hit their only three-pointer; had that not gone in, Stanford would have had nine straight quarters holding opponents to 10 or fewer points.

The basis of the rout is clear in one stat, field-goal percentage: Stanford 44%, Arizona 21%. Before this game, Stanford was second nationally in field goal percentage defense (.306). That has now dropped to .299.

The Wildcats' low shooting percentage was due in part to nine blocks by the Cardinal. But any advantage the Cardinal gained from blocks, they gave right back in the form of sloppy ball handling — turnovers were Stanford 23, Arizona 13. With turnovers, Arizona was actually able to take more shots, 53 to Stanford's 43, but they could not get the ball to fall, and that was due to the smart, tenacious Stanford defense forcing them to take late shots and awkward shots.

Cast-iron defense was a team effort, but there were individual highlights on offense.

Brittany scored 21 points on six of 10 shooting (three of six from beyond the arc). This was a welcome breakout for Brittany — her season-high and within three of her personal best.

Alanna scored 16 points, most of them from hitting four of five three-point shots. In all, eight Cardinal players scored, but only Brittany and Alanna reached double digits, and nobody had a double-double.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play.