|Happy players celebrate their Pac-12 tournament championship. (Stanford Athletics)|
Despite having the two seed, Stanford women’s basketball won the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas by beating Cal 72-54 March 8, Washington 72-61 March 9 and first seed Oregon 64-57 March 10 for its 13th championship in 18 years.
Senior Alanna Smith was named both the tournament’s most outstanding player and a member of the all-defensive team. Junior guard DiJonai Carrington and sophomore guard Kiana Williams were named to the all-tournament team. Freshman forward Lacie Hull was named to the all-freshman team. Her twin, forward Lexie, was an honorable mention for that team.
By virtue of its two seed in the NCAA tournament, Stanford hosted the two first rounds and defeated UC Davis 79-54 March 23 in the first round. Alanna scored 21 points in just 21 minutes.
Thus Alanna joined three legends -– Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne -- as the only players in the past 20 years with at least 1,600 points, 200 blocked shots and 150 made three’s.
|Victory over BYU is cause for loud celebration (Bob Drebin/ISIPhotos.com)|
Team celebrates season’s final game at Maples with win
Stanford advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 12th straight year by defeating Brigham Young 72-63 March 25, the seniors’ last game in Maples.
This 30th season victory was the 15th in program history and the first since the team went to the Final Four in 2017. It also was the team’s 18th straight NCAA home win, improving its overall tournament record at Maples to 38-4, Stanford Athletics reported.
Going to Chicago for the Sweet 16, Stanford advanced to the Elite 8 by beating Missouri State 55-46 March 30.
Its 55 points tied its fewest in an NCAA tournament since beating Xavier 55-53 in the Elite Eight in Sacramento March 29, 2010. That game was marked by one of the most memorable finishes in Stanford history when Jeanette Pohlen, ’10, steaked across the court with 4.4 seconds left to score the winning basket and send her team to the Final Four.
|The mood is quite different after the season-ending loss to Notre Dame. (Bob Drebin/ISIPhotos.com)|
The season ended April 1 with an 84-68 loss to defending national champion Notre Dame The game was filled with hope as the team led for 22 minutes. It led 33-26 at the half and by as much as nine in the third quarter before the Irish began chipping away.
Still, the 31-5 overall record was quite respectable. “What a really special year for us,” associate head coach Kate Paye said in a recent interview.
Season’s over; now it’s time to prepare
Now that the season is over, returning players may work four hours a week on basketball skills with the coaches and four hours a week on conditioning with Brittany Keil, sports performance coach, this quarter and during the summer. Players also may work out individually.
Each returner will meet with her position coach and Tara to reflect on the season and determine what to work on during this off-season. It’s “a blueprint to lay the foundation
for success next year,” Kate said.
In the meantime, Alanna, who garnered several All-American awards, was the No. 8 pick in the WNBA draft, going to the Phoenix Mercury, coached by Sandy Brondello, who coached the Australian team in the summer. She already has enough credits to graduate in June. “What an incredible season she had. We’re thrilled for her,” Kate said.
Senior guard Marta Sniezek will graduate in June. Because she has another year of eligibility by virtue of missing this season with an injury, she wants to transfer and play as a grad student. She doesn’t yet know where. “We really missed her this year,” Kate said.
Kate also praised senior center Shannon Coffee, who provided great leadership and did the little things that might not be noticed but that are important to the team’s success.
She wants to become a physician’s assistant. Shannon said after the annual banquet that she wants to play overseas first. She then hopes to study for her chosen career at Stanford.
Academic honors for 12 players
As a tribute to their status as student-athletes, all 12 eligible players were Pac-12 Scholar Athletes. Those who weren’t eligible were the freshmen and Marta, who didn’t play. Alanna was Scholar Athlete of the Year.
There were accolades to all of the players as well as thanks to everyone who helped make the season so successful at the annual banquet April 14.
As to what’s ahead, fans are already eager to see the next freshman class, whose four members have been accruing honors of their own.