December 18, 2015

Victory over the Lady Vols

“We love winning.” With those three words, associate head coach Amy Tucker summed up the feelings of Stanford women’s basketball fans following the team’s 69-55 victory over visiting Tennessee on Dec. 16.

It was a win with much to savor, such as the fact that except for the Lady Vols’ first basket and a tie early in the first quarter, Stanford led for the entire game.

The score was 17-11 after the first quarter and 35-20 at the half. The spread grew to 21 points early in the third quarter, which ended with the Cardinal ahead 48-30.

The visitors made a run in the fourth quarter, twice closing to within 7 points, but each time the Cardinal made clutch plays to widen the margin and clinch the win.

Juniors start the game

The team’s five juniors were the starters, with Lili Thompson, Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson as the guards and Kailee Johnson and Erica “Bird” McCall as the forwards.

Four other players subbed in: Freshmen Marta Sniezek at guard and Alanna Smith at forward; and sophomores Brittany McPhee at guard and Kaylee Johnson at forward.

All nine players scored, led by Lili with 19, Bird with 14 and Kaylee with 10. Bird also led in rebounding, snaring 10 of the team’s 42, followed by Lili with seven and Kaylee with five. The visitors had 31.

Kailee is introduced as a starter.
This game was Kaylee’s best this season, a hopeful sign from the player who had led the team in rebounding last year. “I think she’s back for good,” Amy said after the game.

Marta also got the crowd’s attention. Playing 29 minutes, she had 9 points, three rebounds, two steals and four assists. Her assist total matched Lili’s.

The team’s other five players were available and cheering from the bench.

Among the crowd of 3,768 was a smallish band, reflective of Stanford’s holiday break, along with a palm version of the Tree. Also on hand was the Rose Bowl-bound football team, which cheered loudly from the north bleachers before parading onto the floor with its Pac-12 championship trophy at halftime.

Krista, Brooke, Jayne visit the team

Three WBB alums were there, too: Krista Rappahahn Birnie, ’06; Brooke Smith, ’07; and Jayne Appel, ’10. They visited the team in the locker room after the game. Jayne’s parents and fiancé were with her.

Although Stanford outscored and outrebounded the Lady Vols, it also recorded 20 turnovers, compared with the visitors’ 14. Tennessee held the edge in free-throw percentage, 70.6-63.3.

The visitors held their hosts to a mere two 3-pointers, one by Lili and one by Karlie. Points in the paint – 40 – helped to overcome the lack of production from behind the arc.

Black panels replace white championship banners

Fans who complained about the loss of the white championship banners that had adorned Maples got to see their replacements in three corners.

Women’s basketball is in its usual spot in the southeast corner. The information appears on three wall-mounted black panels.  The words are in red, the numbers in white.

The first panel reads STANFORD WOMEN’S BASKETBALL. The second lists conference championships. The third lists national championships and Final Four appearances.

Women’s volleyball in the northeast corner and men’s basketball panels in the northwest corner have the same design.

Alanna, Alexa introduced at Behind the Bench

Amy opened the Behind the Bench session after the game by introducing Alanna and a fellow freshman, guard Alexa Romano.

Even though Alanna is a long way from her home in Melbourne, Australia, she has relatives in Ohio and will spend her holiday break with them.

Her father, whom she credited for drilling her on her hook shot, will visit next week. He and her uncle played professionally, and her uncle played in the Olympics.

Her main adjustment to playing in America was learning new terminology. Otherwise, “the fundamentals are pretty much the same,” she said.

As for academics, she graduated from high school in December, so she had eight months off before facing the rigors of college.

Unlike most of her teammates, she didn’t go to summer school because she was in Russia playing for Australia in the U19 world championship. Her team lost to Russia in the semi-finals but beat Spain for the bronze medal. She was one of five all-star players for the tournament. Overall, it was “an awesome experience,” she said.

Alexa’s relatives attend game

Alexa, who comes from New Mexico, noted that her parents, brother and a friend were at the game. She said her biggest adjustment to college playing was “the pace of the game.” She also said, “I’ve never played with such great,  smart people” before.

She’s working on “running out of my lane on offense” and being “a more disruptive defender.”

Commenting on the game, Amy said, ‘We played really well for three quarters” against a team that had pressed for nearly 40 minutes.

“We’re a work in progress,” but she said she’s pleased to see different players contributing.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer said essentially the same thing. “We’re very excited about it,” she added. “Any time you beat Tennessee and you’re Stanford, it’s a great night.”

“We (just) have to keep our focus,” she concluded.

Next up: Cornell at 2 p.m. Dec. 19 and Cal State Bakersfield at 2 p.m. Dec. 22, both at home.

Photos from Stanford Athletics

No comments:

Post a Comment