Stanford vs. Cal is traditionally billed as the Battle of the Bay, but in Stanford’s case on Jan. 10, it was a pleasure cruise as the Cardinal sailed to a 73-40 win over the visiting Bears.
Except for an opening basket in the early going, Cal never led. Instead, Stanford was up 20-5 after the first quarter. It went on to outscore Cal 19-10 in the second (39-14) and 19-3 (58-18) in the third.
While not enough to close the cumulative gap, Cal surged 22-15 in the fourth quarter, when the Cardinal starters were spending most of their time cheering from the bench.
Freebies add to festivities
There was a festive air overall, starting before the game when the 3,529 fans could avail themselves from any number of freebies: pens, pompons, rally towels, glow sticks and lighted headbands.
The latter two items cast a red glow throughout Maples when the home starters were announced. “It’s time to glow,” the videoboard said.
The fans included a sizable contingent in the student section as well as the band, Tree, Dollies and cheerleaders. There seemed to be only a smattering of Cal fans with no appearance by their band, etc.
Fran dunks before game
As the team prepared to finish its warmups with free throws, freshman forward Fran Belibi delighted the crowd with a dunk, which has become a staple for that routine.
The band delivered an impressive rendition of the national anthem, which began with a lone trumpet playing the first few stanzas before the other musicians joined in.
With the same three players out as usual – senior guards DiJonai Carrington and Mikaela Brewer along with junior forward Maya Dodson – the starting lineup featured Fran plus senior forward Nadia Fingall, junior guard Kiana Williams, sophomore guard Lexie Hull and freshman guard Haley Jones.
By game’s end, all 12 available players had seen action, and all contributed in some way.
Freshmen make a big impact
Just how important were the four freshmen in this game? Consider this: One more point from them would have tied Cal’s total output, and two more would have defeated the Bears.
|Haley was the game-high scorer with 17 points. (Ben Margot/AP)|
As it was, Haley with 17 points; forward Ashten Prechtel, 13; Fran, 6; and guard Hannah Jump, 3; combined for 39 points. That was more than half of the team’s total, yet the four rookies played just under a third (a combined 55 minutes) of the team’s total minutes (200).
Halftime entertainment was provided by Swift Shift, a two-person magic act with repetitious tricks, some of which became easy to predict.
There was a festive air to the game in general, especially during the second quarter when the women’s soccer team was honored with cheers and a standing ovation for its second national championship in two years.
Tara hits a conference milestone
Then there was the announcement just after the game that head coach Tara VanDerveer had just won her 500th conference game, the most by any Division 1 head coach with one women’s basketball team.
Although they weren’t shown in the videoboard, several of her former players were on hand for the occasion.
They included Kaylee Johnson, ’18; Briana Roberson, ’17; Ashley Cimino, ’11; Jayne Appel-Marinelli and JJ Hones, ’10; Brooke Smith Easter and Clare Bodensteiner, ’07; and Azella Perryman, ’05.
On the coaching side there was Cal head coach Charmin Smith, ’97, who became assistant coach at Stanford from 2004-07.
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye was on the team through 1995; and assistant coach Lindy La Rocque, who has been an assistant coach since the 2017-18 season, graduated in 2012.
Therefore, she was teammates with Jayne, JJ and Ashley and coached Kaylee.
|Alumnae join the team and coaches in the locker room after the game (Stanford Athletics)|
Lindy invites alumnae to locker room
After the game, she went over to the family section where the player alums were seated and invited them to the locker room to meet the team.
Round 2 of the Battle of the Bay shifts to Cal at 5 p.m. Jan. 12.
After that is what could be the team’s toughest tests to date: road games at Oregon at 6 p.m. Jan. 16 and Oregon State at noon Jan. 19.
Stanford returns to Maples to play Colorado at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 and Utah at noon Jan. 26. That’s when Tara’s 1990 national championship team is slated for a reunion.
Pac-12 Networks will televise the Cal, Oregon State, Colorado and Utah games. The Oregon game is slated for ESPN or ESPN 2.