January 18, 2015

Bird joins flock of double-digit scorers

Balance was the name of the game Jan. 16 when the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated visiting Arizona 77-47 to stretch its Pac-12 conference record to 5-0 and its season record to 13-4.

Led by senior forward Bonnie Samuelson with 14 points, five Cardinal were in double figures. She was followed by sophomore forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 13 and by sophomore guards Lili Thompson, Karlie Samuelson and Briana Roberson with 12 each.

Combined with her career-high 16 rebounds, Bird had the first double-double of her Stanford career, plus three blocks in 25 minutes.

Bird credits glasses for helping her

In a press conference after the game, she said that wearing glasses for the second consecutive game improved her court vision. “They give me a sense of confidence knowing I can see better,” she is quoted as saying. She hadn’t worn glasses during previous games this season, and contacts don’t work for her.

In what may be a nod to Stanford’s priding itself on being Nerd Nation, the glasses are horn-rimmed. All that’s missing is adhesive tape over the bridge.

When Bird scored her 11th point during the second half, junior forward/center Tess Picknell could be seen at the bench flapping her arms.

The victory followed two road wins the previous weekend, when Washington fell 60-56 on Jan. 9, and Washington State fell 86-76 in overtime on Jan. 11.

There were no changes in the starting lineup as Bonnie, Lili and Karlie were joined by freshman forward Kaylee Johnson and senior guard Amber Orrange.

Samuelson sisters contribute four 3’s each

Twenty-seven points came from making 9 of 19, 47.4 percent, of the team’s 3-point attempts. Bonnie and Karlie contributed four each, while Amber added the other one.

Fourteen players were available, and all 14 got into the game, with nine scoring. The only player in street clothes was redshirt junior guard Jasmine Camp.

Although Arizona has won no Pac-12 games this season, its 11 available players did their best to thwart the Cardinal with an often-pressing defense and energetic play. Still, the Cardinal’s overall strength and balance were too much to overcome.

Stanford had the edge in rebounds, 37-30; blocks, 6-3; steals, 9-6; and assists, 20-9. The Cardinal had 14 turnovers to Arizona’s 18, and nine fouls to the opponent’s 14. Free-throw shooting percentage also favored Stanford, 76.9 to 33.31. Both Lili and Briana were a perfect 4-for-4 at the charity stripe.

Crowd enjoys entertainment

With an official attendance of 3,419, the crowd was entertained by the band, Tree, cheerleaders and Dollies. Just before the game began, the Dollies formed the letter ‘S’ with their silver pompons.

Bonnie was the featured player as the video board periodically relayed facts about the human biology major.

With Stanford ahead 41-24, halftime entertainment featured a return visit (after last season) by the WJM Band, three Bay Area sixth-graders named William, Jeremy and Max (no last names given).

With two on guitar and one on drums, they played a loudly amplified rock set that had the Stanford band bouncing along at its part of the bleachers. Prudently wearing earplugs, the boys reportedly donate their profits to charity.

How many undefeated conference seasons?

The game’s trivia question asked how many undefeated conference seasons – five, seven or 12 – Stanford has enjoyed since formation of the Pac-10 conference in 1986. The answer was seven.

The seasons were 1988-89, 1995-96, 1996-97, 2001-02, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. As a footnote, Marianne Stanley and associate head coach Amy Tucker were in charge during the 1995-96 season when head coach Tara VanDerveer was coaching the USA women’s basketball team to an Olympic gold medal.

Later in the second half, two women competed against each other to be the first to identify blurred three photos of players – Amber, Bird and Kaylee – before they came into full focus.

Next on the schedule is a home game against Arizona State at 3 p.m. Jan. 19. Stanford, ASU and Oregon State sit atop the Pac-12 conference with 5-0 records.

P.S. In my recent story about the team’s bus driver, Don Van Zandt, I should have named his wife, who joins him at home games. She’s Margot Van Zandt.

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