November 17, 2014

Bright spots in season opener

While the game was far from perfect, fans of Stanford women’s basketball had reason for optimism as Boston College fell 96-63 in the season-opening game Nov. 14 at Maples Pavilion.

The win wasn’t quite as easy as the score might indicate, especially in the first half, when the Cardinal went to the locker room with only a 49-40 lead. Because of lapses in Stanford’s perimeter defense, BC unleashed nine 3’s, while the Cardinal managed only three.

With 6:16 to go in the first half, the score was just 30-29 in Stanford’s favor following a series of BC 3’s. Head coach Tara VanDerveer called a time out, but shortly thereafter, BC popped in another to make the score 34-32 with 4:55 to go.

Halftime adjustments pay off

Thanks to the necessary adjustments at halftime, though, BC hit no more 3’s, while Stanford added four to its total of seven.

Sophomore guard Lili Thompson had three for the game, followed by sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson with two. Senior forward Taylor Greenfield and freshman guard Brittany McPhee added one each.

Brittany’s trey marked the first official points of her Stanford career. She added a free throw to give her 4 points in nine minutes. She has recently returned after recovering from a foot problem.

Stanford had been outrebounded in the first half, too, but the second half went better, leading to a final total of 38 rebounds for Stanford and 27 for BC. Senior guard Amber Orrange had nine, while junior forward/center Tess Picknell had six in seven minutes of action.

Taylor, Amber and Lili were in the starting lineup along with sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall and freshman forward Kaylee Johnson. All five logged double-digit minutes, led by Amber with 29.

Also getting double-digit playing time were Karlie, sophomore forward Kailee Johnson and redshirt junior guard Alex Green.

Everyone gets in on the fun

All 15 players were dressed, and all had played by the time the final buzzer sounded. The starters were on the bench to stay with just over seven minutes to go.

In keeping with a tradition in which one player is featured on the video board at each home game, Taylor was the season’s initial honoree as her parents observed from the family section.

Finishing with 10 points, Taylor showed more offensive aggressiveness than in some past games. She also displayed defensive leadership, often directing her teammates to appropriate spots.

Except for the perimeter lapses in the first half, the players seemed more aggressive on defense, making concerted efforts to steal the ball. Their efforts paid off in 11 steals. Amber and Lili had three each, followed by Bird and Kailee with two each and Alex with one. BC had only three steals.

The steals helped the team amass 12 fast-break points, compared with 2 for BC. BC had 17 turnovers, while Stanford had 15.

Stanford also led in blocking with six -- three by Kailee, two by Bird and one by Kaylee.

Lili, Bird tally career-high points

When it came to scoring, Lili’s 26 points and Bird’s 16 were both career highs. Amber had 11 points to go with a team-high six assists.

Among boosters in the crowd of 3,278 were the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree as well as pairs of students waving red Stanford flags during timeouts. One of those students in the second half was an enthusiastically cheered man in a wheelchair.

Because the men’s basketball team was scheduled to play at 9 p.m., everyone had to leave Maples. However, fans with ticket stubs to the women’s game were given free general admission seats.

In the meantime, the ever-energetic band entertained fans outside.

While this game was a nice way to start the season, the new-look Cardinal with its emphasis on speedy guard play will face an acid test at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. That’s when the team will play host to two-time defending national champion UConn.

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