November 22, 2015

Cardinal settle the Colonials

Returning home from a successful road trip, the #15 Stanford women’s basketball team extended its season-opening record to 3-0 with an 84-63 defeat of #22 George Washington University on Nov. 21.

After trailing 15-19 to end the first quarter, the Cardinal outscored the Colonials 31-11 in the second to enter the halftime break with a 46-30 lead. The team never looked back after that, ending the third quarter with another 16-point advantage, 61-45.

Lili gets her first start this season. (Stanford Athletics)
Head coach Tara VanDerveer altered the starting lineup, inserting junior guard Lili Thompson in place of freshman guard Marta Sniezek. Lili immediately opened Stanford’s scoring with a 3-pointer, the first of nine for the team. She went on to score two more 3’s to finish the game with a team-high 21 points in 33 minutes. She also had five rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Also scoring double figures were starting junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 18, starting junior guard Karlie Samuelson with 17 and, off the bench, freshman forward Alanna Smith with 10.

Bird, Kaylee have 10 rebounds each

Bird and starting sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson had 10 rebounds each.

Karlie’s 17 points included 12 from four 3-pointers. Also scoring 3’s were two freshmen, Alanna and guard Alexa Romano, with one each.

Tara stayed mainly with an eight-player rotation: the four starters already named plus junior guard Briana Roberson. Playing considerable minutes off the bench were Alanna, Marta and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee.

Coming off the bench when victory was assured were Alexa, senior forward/center Tess Picknell, freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee and senior guard Kiran Lakhian.  Altogether, the bench scored 21 points, compared with GW’s 6.

Alex available for first time this season

Thirteen players were available. They included redshirt senior guard Alex Green, who was in uniform for the first time this season after rehabbing from ACL surgery last season. Junior forward Kailee Johnson was not in uniform.

Since this was the first regular home game, 2,854 fans got their first look at a new lead-up to introduction of the starters. Maples was darkened except for a spotlight on the Stanford logo at center court. This was followed by a new video featuring some highlight plays.

The fan contingent included the band, Tree and Dollies.

Also on hand was Karlie’s sister Bonnie, ’15, with their parents. Bonnie said she’s hoping to become an optometrist. She received a big round of applause when she was shown on the video board during the third quarter.

Clock issues briefly halted the game several times, but they weren’t significant.

GW had only two players in double figures, including 6’4’’ Jonquel Jones. She had 27 points -– including five 3’s -– and 17 rebounds.

Karlie goes up against GW's Jonquel Jones. (Stanford Athletics)
Karlie guards taller player

Despite being 4 inches shorter, Karlie -– known for her defense -- was eventually assigned to guard her. When Jonquel fouled out toward the end of the fourth quarter, the crowd applauded her in recognition of her performance.

Free throws, which hadn’t been a strong point in previous games, were better this time, with the team making 15 of 18, or 83.3 percent. GW made four of six, or 66.7 percent.

Overall, Stanford shot 46.2 percent, compared with GW at 29.4 percent. The taller Colonials had the advantage in rebounds, 50-46.

Stanford had fewer turnovers than GW, 12 vs. 14; and fewer fouls, 10 vs. 14. Stanford had more steals, 9 vs. 5; assists, 16 vs. 6; and blocks, 8 vs. 4.

The game had started at noon, apparently to limit traffic since the Big Game against Cal was slated for 7:30 p.m.

Next up: Santa Clara University at home at 7 p.m. Nov. 23.

November 16, 2015

Third quarter clinches season-opening victory

The Stanford women’s basketball team took to the road to open its new season, defeating UC Davis 74-45 on Nov. 13.

Davis stuck around for the first two quarters, allowing Stanford only an 18-15 edge at the end of the first and a 29-24 edge at the second.

Then whatever head coach Tara VanDerveer said in the locker room during halftime sent the Cardinal into the third quarter totally energized. Davis didn’t score its first point, a free throw, until the 5:49 mark. Its only basket, a 3-pointer, was logged at 3:06.

Press aids third-quarter surge

In the meantime, Stanford’s lead ballooned to 60-32, thanks not only to better shooting but also to fierce defense. That defense was hallmarked by an almost unrelenting press that resulted in turnovers and only 8 points.

For the game, Davis had 21 turnovers, while Stanford had 11. Stanford had 24 points off turnovers, Davis 12.

Thirteen of Stanford’s 14 players were available for action and got into the game. Redshirt senior guard Alex Green, still rehabbing from ACL surgery, didn’t make the trip.

The team gathers in a circle before tip-off.
Starting for the Cardinal were freshman guard Marta Sniezek at the point; junior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson; sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson and junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

By the end of the half, nine had played. Junior forward Kailee Johnson and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee were first off the bench, followed by freshman forward Alanna Smith and junior guard Lili Thompson.

Stanford fans in the crowd were glad to see Lili, who had worn a boot while sitting out the Nov. 7 exhibition win against Academy of Art University. She played 14 minutes.

When the final buzzer sounded, all 13 players had made at least one positive contribution to the stat line.

Bri scores team-leading 15 points

Bri led the team with 15 points, followed by Alanna with 13, and Bird and Lili with 10 each. Karlie was close behind with 9. Bird led the team with 11 rebounds for a double-double.

Notable among the bench players was freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee, who was last off the bench (she’s reportedly recovering from a sore foot) and played slightly less than three minutes.

She made the most of that time, though, going 2-for-2 from the field and 1-for-1 from the free-throw line to put up 5 points. More exactly, she entered the game at the 2:53 mark and made layups at 2:11 and 1:29, followed by her free throw at 1:28 –- a span of less than 90 seconds.

In all, Stanford’s bench contributed 38 points, slightly less than half the team’s total, compared with 11 points from the Davis bench.

Stanford had 47 rebounds, Davis 45. Stanford had 10 blocks, with two each from Kaylee, Bird, Kailee and senior forward/center Tess Picknell. Alanna and freshman guard Alexa Romano had one each. Davis had two blocks.

Each team had seven steals. Stanford’s came from Marta with two; plus Kaylee, Bird, Bri, Brittany and Kailee with one each.

For the game, Stanford shot a less-than-stellar 38 percent, but Davis lagged at 23.6 percent.

Free-throw shooting needs improvement

Free-throw shooting also was underwhelming, 13 for 21, or 61.9 percent. Davis made 14 of 20, or 70 percent, of its charity tosses.

Continuing on the debit side, Stanford missed many apparently easy layups and made only seven of 24 3-point attempts, or 29.2 percent. Bri accounted for three 3’s, followed by Karlie with two, and Lili and Alanna with one each.

Back on the plus side were the assists, 16 for Stanford, eight for Davis. Marta accounted for four assists; followed by Bri with three; Karlie, Lili and Tess with two each; and Kaylee, Brittany and Kailee with one each.

The game was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., but because the Davis men’s game preceding it went into overtime, it didn’t start until about 8:13. (The men lost, too, 79-71 to North Dakota State.)

Official game attendance was 3,366 with Davis students accounting for the majority. Dozens of Stanford fans filled seats in two sections behind the Stanford bench. Some of them had attended a pre-game mixer sponsored by Stanford Alumni at a nearby sports bar, the Davis Graduate.

According to Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, the Stanford women began their trip with a four-hour bus ride (heavy traffic) the day before the game. They planned to stay overnight in Sacramento after the game. They then were to fly from Sacramento to Spokane via Seattle on Nov. 14 in preparation for their Nov. 15 game against Gonzaga.

November 9, 2015

Potential on parade

The outcome of the Stanford women’s basketball team’s Nov. 7 exhibition game against Academy of Art University was expected. The Cardinal won 81-48.

Likewise, the 2,479 fans at the game got their expected look at the team’s first outing, albeit against a Division II school.

Most important, the coaches had a chance to see various individuals and combinations to start figuring out how to use their players’ talents.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer went with four returning players and one freshman to start the game, but that freshman, guard Marta Sniezek, played the all-important point position. Joining her on the floor were junior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson along with sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson and junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Everyone scores, led by Bird

By the end of the game, all 12 available women had played and scored. Bird led the way in both points and rebounds with 19 and 16, respectively, plus two blocks. Karlie was right behind her with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one block.

Alanna had 12 points

Coming off the bench, freshman forward Alanna Smith chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

Redshirt senior guard Alex Green, still recovering from an ACL injury, was unavailable. Also out of action was junior guard Lili Thompson, who had a boot on her right foot. Tara told a gathering in Kissick Auditorium after the game that Lili was held out as a precaution and that she hoped to have Lili back this week.

Maples gets new video board

Fans got their first look at the new, larger video board over center court. It displays a large image of the action along with a smaller space for the score, team fouls and time outs left.

Individual stats – points, fouls and rebounds – are shown on smaller screens in the corners. The southeast and northwest screens display Stanford’s numbers. Visitor numbers appear in the other corners.

These screens replace the championship banners. Instead, teams’ championship lists will be painted on the walls, Tara said. The banners won’t come back.

Fans who aren’t happy about the changes should send their thoughts to Eileen Roche, director of basketball operations, who will forward them to the right place, Tara said.

The band, Dollies and Tree were on hand to cheer the players as they ran onto the court, led by Marta.

Betty Ann (Boeving) Hagenau was back in the announcer’s seat after missing much of last season while recuperating from a bicycle accident.

Karlie and Lili are this year's captains

Karlie, Lili captain the team

The team sported a new look with red sleeveless warmup jerseys. As team captains, Karlie and Lili met with the referees and AAU’s captains at center court before the game.

Bri scored Stanford’s first basket after the team had turned the ball over twice. She was replaced by sophomore guard Brittany McPhee at the 7:50 mark and the score tied 5-5.

Brittany’s minutes were limited because she had been ill during the week, Tara said later.
Nevertheless, she made one of the team’s six 3-pointers. The others came from Karlie with three, while Bri and senior guard Kiran Lakhian had one each.

Next in was junior forward Kailee Johnson for Bird at the 5:23 mark.

The first quarter ended with Stanford ahead 30-18. During that quarter, it appeared that getting the ball to Bird under the basket was a priority.

Getting the starting nod for the second quarter was freshman guard Alexa Romano along with Karlie, Kailee, Bri and Alanna. By the end of that quarter, which ended 51-25, everyone had played except for freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee. She hadn’t scrimmaged in the team’s open practice last month, when Tara said that she had a sore foot.

The third quarter began with the initial starting lineup and ended with the Cardinal up 65-36.

Veterans on the bench cheer for the freshmen 

Freshmen play most of 4th quarter

With the veterans cheering from the bench, much of the fourth quarter featured all four freshmen plus Kiran, who rejoined the team this season after playing her freshman year. “Kiran is very determined,” Tara said after the game. “She wanted to play.”

The lineup shifted slightly throughout the quarter, but ended with the freshmen plus senior forward/center Tess Picknell.

The post-game session began with Eileen talking about the team’s earlier closed scrimmage against the visiting University of Texas at El Paso. The session gave the teams experience with new rules and a chance to run through agreed-upon situations for a half-hour, she said.

Most significant among the new rules are four quarters instead of two halves. Two shots replace one-and-one free-throw shooting.

If there’s less than one minute left in the game, the team that gains possession can take a time out, and then, if it informs the refs, advance the ball from in front of its bench instead of the far end.

Fans meet Marta, Shannon

In keeping with tradition, associate head coach Amy Tucker joined the post-game session to introduce Marta and Shannon.

Marta was the starting point guard

Marta scored 2 points but had seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 23 minutes.  Shannon had 2 points along with two rebounds and one block in six minutes.

Marta, who comes from Washington, D.C., has eight siblings. She’s the second youngest. She attended a private girls high school, National Cathedral, the alma mater of Grace Mashore, ’12. She started playing AAU basketball at age 8.

When asked why she chose Stanford, she answered, “Why not?” She had other offers, but with academics a high priority, she narrowed her choices to Stanford, Harvard and Princeton. When she visited Stanford, though, she “fell in love with the school.”

Now that she’s with the team, she’s finding the pace to be the biggest adjustment. She also hadn’t done any weight lifting – a big part of the players’ conditioning – before this.

Although she doesn’t have to declare a major until her junior year, she’s interested in science and math and is taking a chemistry class this quarter.

In addition to basketball, she played soccer, earning all-American and D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year honors.

Shannon goes in for a layup

Shannon graduated from a large public high school, Centerville, near Dayton, Ohio. She has a sister who graduated from Ohio State and a brother who goes there.

She initially wanted to go to school closer to home, but like Marta, she said, “Why not come here?” It may have helped that her great-uncle had coached Mikaela Ruef, ’14, who talked to her about Stanford.

She started basketball with CYO in kindergarten followed by AAU in third grade.

She agreed with Marta about the faster pace of college ball. Academically, she’s interested in hospital administration.

Both Amy and Tara praised Marta. She “does a tremendous job of pushing the ball in transition,” Amy said. “Marta has had phenomenal practices,” Tara said. She’s “an extremely intelligent point guard.”

Tara pleased with freshmen

“We’re really excited about our four freshmen,” Tara said, noting that Shannon and Marta like to pass, while Alanna and Alexa like to shoot.

Alanna, the team’s first Australian, has adjusted well, Tara said. She has been ill and has had some homesickness, but the older players are helping her adjust. “She’s going to be a really great player for us.”

“We have a great group,” but “we’re going to have to improve a lot quickly.” The team had 18 turnovers compared with the Urban Knights’ nine. On the plus side, the players get along well and care for each other.

Strategy-wise, “we’re definitely looking to run … We’re real excited about this year’s team,” Tara concluded.

All photos from Stanford women's basketball

May 18, 2015

Tempie optimistic about next season

Looking ahead to the 2015-16 Stanford women’s basketball season, assistant coach Tempie Brown is upbeat.

Fans can expect “a younger team, a quicker team,” Tempie said. She spoke briefly at a tailgate party for men’s and women’s basketball season ticket holders preceding a Stanford baseball game the afternoon of May 17.

Also speaking was men’s assistant coach Tim O’Toole.

Reflecting on the past year, Tempie said, “This season was very exciting. We had a great bunch of kids.”

Now she’s looking forward to working with the 10 returning players as well as the four promising freshmen-to-be. 

She noted that freshman forward Kaylee Johnson, sophomore guard Lili Thompson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall spent the weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo.,  for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s Pan American Games and World University Games team trials.

At the end of the weekend, Bird was named to the 12-member WUG team that will compete in South Korea in July. “We’re looking for great things for her,” Tempie said.

Updating the condition of two sophomores, she said that guard Karlie Samuelson is improving after suffering a broken finger late in the Pac-12 season, and forward Kailee Johnson is rehabbing from “an ongoing injury. ... We could really use her,” Tempie said.

Returning players are working on skills and conditioning. The coaches can spend two hours a week with them.

In the meantime, the coaches are staying in contact with the incoming freshmen, who have been given workouts to follow before they arrive June 20. Summer school classes begin June 22.

April 18, 2015

Players take on a different look

Those tall, glamorous young women at the Stanford alumni center were women’s basketball players attending the annual spring banquet April 15.

Some people had to look twice to recognize them with their fashionable dresses, nicely styled hair and, in some cases, high heels, like the stilettos worn by senior guard Jasmine Camp.

All photos by Dave Cortesi

Two hundred people enjoyed the buffet dinner and the chance to socialize with the players, fans, coaches and staff members. The event was planned and coordinated by DeeDee Zawaydeh, longtime administrative assistant and emcee for the evening.

The main part of the program featured head coach Tara VanDerveer introducing each player by academic class and handing out thanks to the dozens of people behind the team and mostly behind the scenes. It made one realize how many people are needed to build and support an outstanding team.

Young fan had serenaded team

Tara began by introducing one of the team’s youngest fans, 4 ½-year-old TJ Louie. TJ had been so taken with the team that he wrote a song that named every player and sang it to the team one day in the locker room.

He was seated with his favorite player, junior forward/center Tess Picknell, and his grandmother, Marianne Austin. He was wearing a red T-shirt with a picture of the team on the front and all the players’ names on the back.

The coach called the just-concluded season “a great year, a very different year” with a different offense, varying starting lineups and nine different players as game-high scorers.

Freshmen are first for praise

She then called the players to the front for praise, starting with the three freshmen:
Guard Taylor Rooks, who has “a positive attitude.”
Guard Brittany McPhee, who was the team’s best free-throw shooter and “loves the game of basketball.”
Forward Kaylee Johnson, who was the team’s best rebounder and shot blocker and who set the Pac-12 freshman rebounding record previously held by some Stanford greats.

Sophomores, junior come forward

After more thanks, the sophomores went to the front for Tara’s kudos:

Guard Lili Thompson, who is “an outstanding player with glimpses of brilliance.”
    Guard Karlie Samuelson, who is “one of the most intelligent basketball players I’ve ever coached” and who is a “fearless competitor.”
               Guard Briana Roberson, who went “from a practice player to a gamer” and who “gives the team speed and quickness.”
               Forward Erica “Bird” McCall, who was the team’s second-leading rebounding and shot blocker, who is a “leader by example” and whom “I love coaching.”
               Forward Kailee Johnson, who had a tough start because of injuries but who is intelligent and versatile. 
Karlie, who broke her right pinky finger before the start of the Pac-12 tournament, was wearing a device to immobilize it and the adjacent finger after starting off with a cast and a sling and then just a cast.

Next came Tess, the team’s lone academic junior. “Tess is one of my favorite players” and contributes to the practice and scouting teams, Tara said.

Seniors are thanked, give thanks

Finally, it was the seniors’ turn. The group that had started as what was termed the six-pack four years ago was down to just five at the banquet.

Missing was guard Amber Orrange. Having completed the course work for her degree, she’d had to move out of her dorm just a few days before, so she returned home to Houston to await the outcome of the next day’s WNBA draft. (Amber was drafted by the New York Liberty as the overall 23rd pick.) “We wish her well,” Tara said.

Among the accomplishments of the class of 2015 was a 127-19 overall record and a 59-5 record at home in Maples Pavilion.

Tara called Jasmine “nurturing, unselfish and dedicated, … a quintessential teammate.” In the program, which includes the other players’ salutes to the seniors, several referred to Jasmine as the team mom. Jasmine has another year of eligibility, but has decided to move on to graduate school or a job.

Like all of her classmates, Jasmine thanked everyone for their support, adding, “This has been so special for all of us.”

Alex to return for final year of eligibility

Guard Alex Green also has another year of eligibility and will return. She was on crutches and wearing a heavy brace. 

She tore an ACL in practice a week before the start of the NCAA tournament and had recently undergone surgery. This was the second ACL tear for her, but a different knee. She “worked really hard all season,” Tara said.

Referring to forward Taylor Greenfield, Tara said that Taylor had had some good games in the past, but “this year’s Pac-12 tournament took the cake,” resulting in her being named its Most Outstanding Player.

Taylor, who is from Huxley, Iowa, noted that “coming to Stanford all the way from Iowa wasn’t easy,” but her mother supported the move. She thanked associate head coach Amy Tucker for going to Iowa, despite its wintry weather, to see her play during the recruiting process. “This has been a special four years,” she said.

Erica to work in San Francisco

Forward Erica Payne, who already has a job lined up, is a “very high energy, positive person,” Tara said. Erica will work as a consultant for Deloitte in San Francisco after graduation.

She thanked the coaches for the “opportunity to go to one of the best schools in the country.” And she thanked the fans, who “always made me feel like a starter.”

Tara noted that with the change in offensive strategy, forward Bonnie Samuelson was moved from the 3 position to the stretch 4. One of the program’s all-time best 3-point shooters, she had 81 treys this season. Her 237 career 3’s trail only Candice Wiggins, ’08, and Jeanette Pohlen, ’11. Bonnie plans to go to medical school and become a doctor.

Speaking of her sister, Bonnie said, “Karlie’s always there to put me in my place.” As for her teammates, “You’re my sisters through life.”

Jasmine, Taylor, Erica and Bonnie got to take home their framed jerseys displayed behind the podium. Presumably Amber already has hers, and Alex will get hers next year.

Next came a video that highlighted each player’s performances and accomplishments as well as video recaps of the season.

Tara closed the evening by saying, “Tomorrow we look forward to next year.” She named the four incoming freshmen and said, “Great players are made in the offseason.”

April 10, 2015

A look back: Part 3 of 3 -- Tournament time

Ending the season with a 13-5 conference record, Stanford entered the Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle as the No. 3 seed, its lowest ever for the event.

Nevertheless, when the weekend ended, it was Stanford cutting down the nets and taking home the championship trophy.

The march to that celebration began with a nail-biting 67-62 win over No. 6-seeded UCLA on March 6. Starters were senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guard Lili Thompson, freshman guard Brittany McPhee, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

The Cardinal led most of the way, but UCLA pulled within 1 point, 63-62, with only 20.7 seconds left. After a break by the referees to determine possession, the ball went to Stanford. UCLA fouled Bonnie, who hit two free throws with 14 seconds to go. UCLA missed a trey with 4 seconds to go and fouled Lili, who made two free throws to ice the win.

Amber led the team with 18 points, followed by Lili with 14 and Bird with 10.

Payback against ASU, 59-56

Next up on March 7 was No. 2-seeded Arizona State, coached by Stanford WBB alum Charli Turner Thorne, ’88. Once again the score was close, 59-56, with the Cardinal on top.

Amber had scored all of the team’s points at the 13:55 mark, when Stanford led 12-6. The halftime score was 29-25, thanks in large part to 15 points from Amber and 9 from senior forward Taylor Greenfield.

The Cardinal had a fairly comfortable lead, 48-35, at the 11:08 mark, but had amassed 10 fouls to ASU’s one.

The lead kept shrinking until it was 57-56 with 39.5 seconds left. After another huddle to determine possession, the refs gave the ball to Stanford. ASU began fouling,

With the clock at 20.2 seconds, ASU, now with six fouls, forced Bonnie and the ball out of bounds. ASU got the ball and shot it, but freshman forward Kaylee Johnson blocked it. She was fouled, made her first free throw and missed the second, but Taylor rebounded it. She was fouled and made her free throw to clinch the victory at 59-56.

Amber had a game-high 18 points, followed by Taylor with 17. Kaylee had a team-high 10 rebounds plus a career-high five blocks. The team’s nine blocks were a season high (eight previously).

A big puzzle for Cardinal fans was the disparity in fouls – 21 on Stanford versus 13 on ASU, many of them deliberate in the final seconds.

61-60 squeaker over Cal leads to jubilation

As if the first two games weren’t suspenseful enough, the championship game against Cal on March 8 was even tighter, 61-60.

Before the game, the video board noted that Stanford was 36-3 all time in the tournament. Now it’s 37-3.

Stanford had an immediate edge because it had played the earlier game the night before, giving it more rest on a night when clocks advanced an hour for Daylight Saving Time.

Perhaps another difference-maker came less than 5 minutes into the first half when Brittany inadvertently collided with Brittany Boyd, sending the Cal point guard to the locker room with a facial cut. She returned late in the first half and wound up playing 27 minutes but had only 7 points. Cal forward Reshanda Gray played only 29 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with 6 points.

In the meantime, Taylor was on her way to a career-high, game-high 20 points, while Lili had 13 and Amber 12.

Kaylee finished with 12 rebounds for her 17th 10-plus rebound game this season.

Stanford led by no more than 6 points throughout the second half. With 8.4 seconds left, the lead was 61-57, so Cal’s 3-pointer left it 1 point short of forcing overtime.

With that, Stanford fans and players could celebrate.

Tournament honors for Amber, Taylor

Amber was named to the all-tournament team for the second time (2013 was the first). Besides her 12 points, she had a career-high six steals, tied for most steals in a championship game.

Taylor was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and received a curving, blue glass trophy. A similar but larger trophy was presented to head coach Tara VanDerveer for the team’s 11th tournament championship. Then it was time to cut down the nets.

Nicknamed “Tournament Taylor” by her teammates, Taylor was the first non-starter to be named MOP in the tournament’s 14 years.

Defense was critical in all three tournament wins with Stanford amassing 17 steals, three more than its opponents. The team also had a total of 20 blocks, compared with four by its opponents.

Winning the tournament gave Stanford an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. When tournament selections were announced March 16, its No. 4 seed gave it the right to host the first two rounds at Maples.

The Big Dance begins

Back on the Farm, the team logged wins in Rounds 1 and 2 of the NCAA tournament to advance to the Oklahoma City regional.

The first win came March 21 over Cal State Northridge 73-60. This was a milestone event as Tara enjoyed her 800th victory at Stanford. Thus she became only the 10th Division 1 men’s or women’s coach to amass that many wins at one school. She raised her overall Stanford record to 800-165 and her career record to 952-216 as of that date.

In addition, the victory marked the 500th for the program in Maples Pavilion against 87 losses.

Stanford jumped out to an 8-0 lead, holding CSUN scoreless until just after four minutes into the game. The lead ballooned for another seven minutes until CSUN made a run that put it ahead 29-28 at the half.

Once the second half got under way, the tide began to turn, thanks in part to Lili and Taylor. Lili had spent part of the first half on the bench with two fouls, but she returned to score 7 quick points. She finished second in scoring with 17 points.

“Tournament Taylor” scored 13 of her team-leading 19 points in the second half. Playing virtually the entire game, Bonnie added 14 points. Also in double figures was Bird with 10.

Amber had 6 points and figured in the highlight of the second half. She scrambled for a loose ball on the floor and flipped it to Lili, who sped to the basket for an easy layup.

Accounting for part of the 13-point victory margin were 19 of 25 free throws, compared with four of five by CSUN. Stanford had nine fouls compared with CSUN’s 19. Many of those came in the final two minutes, even in the final few seconds when CSUN had no chance of winning.

Oklahoma falls next

Oklahoma was the next to fall, 86-76, on March 23. The Sooners had advanced by beating Quinnipiac of Connecticut 111-84 two days earlier.

Tara used only eight of the 12 available players. As had been in the case in several previous games, sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson was out with a broken finger. Sophomore forward Kailee Johnson and redshirt junior guard Alex Green were unavailable for undisclosed reasons for both NCAA games.

The Cardinal trailed throughout the first half, leading to a 36-32 halftime deficit. That was nothing new. Counting this game, the Cardinal had been down at the half 14 times this season and had rallied to win nine times, including the previous six games.

Lili and Amber teamed up to move Stanford ahead in the second half. The lead stretched to as many as 14 points about halfway through, but Oklahoma kept trying to come back.

With less than three minutes to go, the Sooners deliberately fouled, but that tactic didn’t work because the Cardinal made most of its free throws.

For the game, Stanford made a season-high 30 free throws on 38 attempts, tying a season high. Thus it shot 78.9 percent from the charity stripe. Oklahoma had 28 fouls with two players fouling out. Stanford had 21 fouls; no one fouled out.

Stanford made only two 3’s in the first half but finished with a total of eight. Bonnie accounted for three, all in the second half. Lili also had three. Amber and sophomore guard Briana Roberson had one each.

Baranduin Briggs
Amber led all players with 24 points. Thus she became the 21st SWBB player to pass the 1,400-point mark with a total of 1,414 career points. Her career-high 11 field goals topped her previous high of 10.

Bonnie and Lili had 19 points each. Even though Bonnie got her fourth foul with 3:22 to go, Tara kept her in, giving her time to make a 3 and several free throws.

With 13 points, Bri was the fourth player in double figures. At that point, Stanford was 13-0 for the season when at least four players scored in double figures.

The victory upped Stanford’s NCAA record to 77-26 overall and 32-4 at Maples. This win was its 12th straight at home.

It also allowed the Cardinal to advance to its eighth consecutive Sweet 16.

End of the line in OKC

The season ended March 27 when No. 1 seeded Notre Dame defeated No. 4 seed Stanford 81-60 in the Oklahoma City regional.

With the Irish shooting 49.2 percent and the Cardinal 35.4 percent, Stanford was defeated by the better team, at least for that evening. Stanford finished the season 26-10 while Notre Dame improved to 34-2 and an Elite 8 date with Baylor.

Despite the disparity in the final score, Stanford rallied several times but couldn’t pull ahead. With about two minutes to go, Tara sent in the bench, thus giving playing time to all 12 available players. (Karlie, Kailee and Alex were still in street clothes.)  

Lili went to the locker room for several minutes after hurting her knee in the first half. She returned to play for a while longer but logged a total of only 16 minutes and scored only 2 points.

Baranduin Briggs

Among the game’s highlights were Bonnie’s five 3-pointers. She scored a total of 17 points to lead the team. With Bonnie’s reputation as a great 3-point shooter, the TV announcer quipped that the opposition has to start guarding her coming out of the locker room.

Amber and Bird were the only other Cardinal players in double figures, scoring 12 points each. Bird had a double-double with a game-leading 10 rebounds.

With the season behind them, the players could focus more on academics as the spring quarter began March 30.

In the meantime, Amber was named a Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-American for excellence in the classroom, character, community and competition. She also earned an Associated Press All-America honorable mention nod and was one of five Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Region VIII honorees.

Bonnie was one of eight senior women chosen to compete in the State Farm 3-Point Championship in Indianapolis prior to the men’s Final Four.

For a complete rundown of team and individual accomplishments, look at “In the Record Book 2014-15” under Stories of the Season on this site.

Looking ahead, fans may be optimistic about next season. At least nine players are returning, and the four incoming recruits come with strong credentials. Just wait ’til next year.

April 7, 2015

A look back: Part 2 of 3 -- Pac-12 play

Pac-12 competition began at home Jan. 3, when Stanford beat Colorado 62-55. Starters were senior guard Amber Orrange, sophomore guards Lili Thompson and Karlie Samuelson, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson.

Amber and Lili did much of the heavy lifting, teaming up for 43 points, 69.3 percent of the final score. Amber had a career-high 26 points, while Lili had 17.

The team had 16 turnovers, 11 of them in the second half, while Colorado had a total of 13. In just over seven minutes at the 11:06 mark of the second half, the team had eight successive turnovers. That’s just about when Amber took over, scoring 9 points in the final minutes.

Utah falls 55-44

Completing the opening round of Pac-12 play, Stanford defeated Utah 55-44 at home on Jan. 5. Amber and Lili again led the scoring with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer was wearing a black brace on her left wrist during the Colorado and Utah games. She told the Associated Press that she broke a bone just above her left wrist during practice on New Year’s Eve. She had stepped in front of junior forward/center Tess Picknell to take a charge and fell backward, landing on the hand. Tara said that Tess apologized, but the 61-year-old coach blamed only herself.

Heading northwest, the team defeated Washington 60-56 on Jan. 9. With the score 57-55 with 27 seconds left, Lili iced the victory with a trey.

The team went on to beat Washington State in overtime 86-76 on Jan. 11. Amber and Bonnie led six players in double figures with 19 and 18, respectively. Also in double figures was Kaylee, who had a career-high 13 points plus 15 rebounds.

Balance helps in win over Arizona

Balance was the name of the game Jan. 16 when the team returned home to beat Arizona 77-47. Led by Bonnie with 14 points, five players were in double figures. Sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall had 13. Lili, Karlie and sophomore guard Briana Roberson had 12 each.

Combined with her career-high 16 rebounds, Bird had the first double-double of her Stanford career.

In a press conference afterward, she said that wearing glasses for the second consecutive game improved her court vision. She hadn’t worn glasses during previous games this season, and contacts don’t work for her.

Twenty-seven points came from 3’s, with Bonnie and Karlie making four each and Amber one.

ASU dishes out first Pac-12 loss

The team endured its first conference loss, 60-57, at the hands of Arizona State at home Jan. 19. 

At the half, Stanford was down 39-22. Tara altered the starting lineup, replacing the Samuelsons with Bri and Bird. The team went on to outscore ASU 35-21. It had a chance to tie with 2.6 seconds left, but there wasn’t enough time to get the ball from under ASU’s basket to make a trey.

A trip to Southern California resulted in two victories: 79-70 over UCLA on Jan. 23 and 71-60 over USC on Jan.25.

Washington schools fall at Maples

Five players were in double figures in the 76-56 victory over Washington State at home Jan. 31. 

Amber had 15; Bird 14, Bri 11, and Lili and Karlie 10 each. Everyone got into the game.

Amber had six assists. One of them in the first half was the 500th of her career, making her only one of seven Cardinal players to reach that level.

Fans had been missing announcer Betty Ann Hagenau (Boeving), who was in a bicycle accident and recuperating at home. They were asked to sign a get-well card for her.

Washington was next to fall, 82-69, on Feb. 2 at Maples. Once again, five players were in double figures, led by Bonnie with 17. She was followed by Bri with 15, Amber with 14, Kaylee with 11 and Karlie with 10.

Kaylee also had 17 rebounds, resulting in the fifth double-double of her first year on the Farm. To that point she was the leading freshman rebounder in the NCAA with an average of 10.5 per game. On top of that, she tied her career-high of four blocks, giving her a season total of 30 to that date.

She finished the entire season with 51 blocks, ranking third behind Val Whiting, ’93, with 57 and Jayne Appel, ’10, with 61 when they were freshmen.

A trip to the desert turned out to be dry with the Cardinal, falling 53-52 to Arizona State on Feb. 6 and 60-57 to Arizona on Feb. 8.

SoCal teams leave with losses

After those two squeakers, the team came home to defeat USC 79-60 on Feb. 13 behind a revised starting lineup. Amber, Bonnie and Kaylee were joined by redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp and senior forward Erica Payne.

UCLA was the next to fall, 68-50 at Maples on Feb. 15. The Samuelsons contributed 12 3’s to the score, with eight from Bonnie and four from Karlie.

During a timeout at the 7:56 mark in the second half and Stanford ahead 60-40, it was announced that Bonnie’s trey just before that was her seventh of the game and a career high.

Her eighth trey raised her career total to 215, third for a Stanford career, behind Candice Wiggins, ’08, with 295 and Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, with 268.

Scoring wasn’t her only contribution. She tied her career high of three blocks, most on the team, and was second with six rebounds.

With 11 rebounds, Kaylee recorded her 14th game with double-digit rebounds for a total of 268 through that date. By then, she ranked third for a Stanford freshman behind Chiney Ogwumike, ’14, with 281 and Kayla Pedersen, ’11, with 329. When the season ended, she had moved into first place with 344.

Her 4-point, 11-rebound performance against UCLA, combined with 9 points and five rebounds against USC, resulted in her being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the third time.

Cal, Stanford go1-1 in Battles of the Bay

After crossing the bay on Feb. 18, the team faced a 28-17 deficit at Cal with 3:56 to go in the first half. That’s when Tara sent in freshman guard Brittany McPhee, who immediately scored 6 points to cut the deficit to 32-23 when the halftime buzzer sounded.

That was just the start of a Stanford rally that didn’t just lead to a 59-47 victory. The second half saw defensive and offensive efforts that led to no Cal field goals during the final 12:59 minutes, leaving Cal with a shooting average of 11.1 percent in that half and 27.3 percent for the game. Only free throws added to Cal’s score.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal shot 48.3 percent in the second half and 45.3 percent for the game. Amber poured in 19 points, followed by Lili with 18.

The starting lineup was altered again with Amber, Lili, Karlie, Bonnie and Kaylee.

Cal got its revenge on Feb. 22 when it visited Maples and won 65-53, spoiling Senior Day, the last regular home game for Stanford’s six seniors.

Brittany got into the game at the 15:41 mark when Cal was ahead 7-3. She finished with a game-high, career-high 24 points and a team-high six rebounds. She was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the first time on Feb. 23.

Stanford was ahead 29-27 at the half, but the Bears outscored the Cardinal 36-24 in the second half.

Turnovers, fouls and rebounds contributed to the loss. The team had 17 turnovers, several of them shot-clock violations, while Cal had 13 TO’s. Cal outrebounded Stanford 35-31.

The refs called only nine fouls on Cal, while whistling Stanford for 16, with the final ones coming in an effort to get the ball. Cal got 13 points from its 20 trips to the charity stripe. Brittany got Stanford’s three shots and made two.

After the game, the six seniors – guard Alex Green, Jasmine, Erica, forward Taylor Greenfield, Amber and Bonnie -- were honored. A video featured highlights from each one’s career.

“It goes really fast,” Tara said before each senior spoke. Taylor’s comment was typical of her classmates’ love for their teammates and appreciation of the fans’ support. “Thanks for sticking with the senior class for four years,” she said.

Split outcome in trip to Oregon schools

Wrapping up the conference season, the team traveled north to face the Oregon schools for the only time this season.

The trip began with a 69-58 win over conference-leading Oregon State on Feb. 26. Apparently based on her play in recent games, Brittany made her first start, joining Amber, Lili, Bonnie and Bird.

The victory was costly, though, because Karlie broke a finger on her right hand, resulting in surgery and her loss for the season.

Playing Oregon on March 1, Stanford lost 62-55 to complete Pac-12 play with a 13-5 conference record.

Two days later, the league’s coaches named Amber to both the All-Pac 12 squad and the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. Lili was named to the All-Pac 12 squad, too, while Bonnie was an honorable mention. Kaylee was chosen for the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.

Coming next: Part 3 –Tournament time