February 1, 2016

Lili tops herself in WSU game

 Fresh off her 27-point performance against Washington on Jan. 29, junior guard Lili Thompson surpassed that and her own career record with a 30-point outpouring to lead the Stanford women’s basketball team to a 69-52 victory over Washington State on Jan. 31.

Thus she and her teammates overcame a slow start in which their first 9 points came from free throws. Lili finally made the team’s first basket with 27.3 seconds left in the first quarter, which ended with the Cardinal trailing 11-18.

The deficit narrowed to 25-27 at halftime. That’s when the crowd of 3,421 was entertained by the welcome return of agility dogs.

In the meantime, the team stayed in the locker room longer than usual, emerging with only about 3 minutes to go.

Lili goes 5 for 5 on 3’s in second half

Then came the third quarter, when Lili launched an early 3 to tie the score at 28-28. Shortly thereafter, she scored again to put the Cardinal up to stay at 32-30. During the second half, she scored 24 points, going 9 for 11 overall and 5 for 5 from beyond the arc.

Lest anyone think this was a one-woman show, junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall scored 11 points and snared 14 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. Junior guard Karlie Samuelson contributed 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Other major contributions were sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson’s 19 rebounds and sophomore Brittany McPhee’s 9 points.

Kaylee, Bird, Lili, Karlie and junior guard Briana Roberson were the starters. Junior forward Kailee Johnson was unavailable again.

Chiney, Bonnie attend game

As fans waited for the post-game Behind the Bench, they spotted Chiney Ogwumike, ’14, chatting with Bonnie Samuelson, ’15, and Bonnie’s mom (also Karlie’s mom).

Assistant coach Kate Paye started the session by hailing “a great win for our team.” “It feels good to get a win on Sunday,” she said, referring to losses to Oregon State on Jan. 17 and UCLA on Jan. 24.

She was accompanied by Bird. “Bird is having a breakout junior year,” Kate said. “Her other nickname is Double-Double.” She noted the value of Bird’s
having played in the World University Games during the summer when, as co-captain, she helped the USA team win the gold.

Bird said that the international experience was helpful and that Chiney advised her during her freshman year. “My confidence is at an all-time high,” she said.

Kate chipped in: “Bird might be the most coachable player we’ve ever had at Stanford.”

Bird credited strength and conditioning coach Brittany Keil for helping her and her teammates maintain their energy during games when their opponents seem to flag after a while. As for improving, Bird said she’s working on shooting from farther out rather than just under the basket.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer then joined the session, remarking, “It’s a tough league that we’re playing in.”

Tara praises Kaylee for rebounding

She commended Kaylee’s 19 rebounds (the team had 46 to WSU’s 26). “We’re just getting better,” she said. “We worked really hard” to improve the offense against the zone defenses that have tended to vex the team in past games.

“I’m really proud of this team’s resilience,” she said.

She also commended senior forward/center Tess Picknell, redshirt senior guard Alex Green, senior guard Kiran Lakhian, freshman guard Alexa Romano and freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee.

They don’t get much playing time, but they play a valuable role as the scout team in practice, running the next opponent’s offense. As a result, “our defense has been really good,” Tara said.

One fan asked why freshman guard Marta Sniezek, who logs major minutes at the point, seems reluctant to shoot. “She’s a very unselfish player,” Tara said, but “she has to be an offensive threat.”

Noting that her mother, Rita, was there for the game, Tara said, “She’s undefeated when she watches us play.”

As for this game, “it was very physical out there.”

And for the season thus far: “It’s a fun ride. It’s a difficult ride,” she concluded.

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