January 9, 2016

Back on track

Playing its first home conference game, the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated Utah 72-52 on Jan. 8.

It was a refreshing and reassuring change from the 31-49 loss at Arizona State on Jan. 4. Those 31 points represented the lowest total ever for the SWBB program.

Instead of starting the team’s five juniors as she has for the past several weeks, head coach Tara VanDerveer gave freshman Marta Sniezek the nod at point guard over junior Briana Roberson.

Bri has career-high eight assists

However, with Stanford trailing 4-7 at the 5:29 mark, Bri entered the game. She finished with 4 points, two rebounds, three steals and a team-high and career-high eight assists in 32 minutes. Marta had 2 points by making the team’s first basket, plus one rebound and one assist in eight minutes.

Junior guard Lili Thompson and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee shared scoring honors with 16 points each. Lili added three rebounds and three assists, while Brittany had five rebounds.

Also in double figures was junior guard Karlie Samuelson with 13 points, two assists and one steal despite playing only 20 minutes because she got three fouls fairly early into the game.

Junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds of the team’s 36 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. She had three of the team’s six blocks.

The evening got off to a good start with an excellent rendition of the national anthem by the Choral Project, an adult mixed chorus based in San Jose.

Even before that, out of the public eye, former Stanford and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, now with the University of Michigan, gave the team a pep talk in the locker room.

The crowd of 4,030 included a student booster contingent with the band, cheerleaders, Dollies and Tree.

Brittany’s free throws give team first lead

Fans saw the game get off to a less than auspicious start in the first quarter with the Cardinal trailing with only .01 second left. That’s when Brittany hit two free throws to put the team up 13-12.

The second quarter was a seesaw battle, but Stanford eked out a 30-28 lead before heading to the locker room for halftime.

The third quarter was a different story as the home team surged to a 55-40 advantage. It was more of the same in the fourth quarter. With the nine rotation players on the bench and the score 70-52 at the 1:14 mark, the other five players came in. Freshman center/forward Shannon Coffee hit a basket to make the winning score 72-52.

Shannon sheds headband

By the way, without her usual white headband, Shannon looked like a different person. When the team came out for its pregame warmups, I had to look twice to make sure that someone new hadn’t been added.

However, something new had been added to the fans’ experience. Instead of just having their tickets scanned and breezing into Maples, they now must subject their bags to a search.

For details on this new policy, go to http://gostanford.com/fls/30600/pdf/facilities/14-prohibited-items.pdf?DB_OEM_ID=30600.

Next the Cardinal will host Colorado at noon Jan. 10, followed by a Behind the Bench.

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