February 4, 2016

Slow start ends with win over Cal

No one player lit up the scoreboard as junior guard Lili Thompson had done against Washington and Washington State a few days earlier. Nevertheless, the Stanford women’s basketball team managed to top its Cal visitors 53-46 on Feb. 2.

Lili had only 2 points early in the third quarter when her team was up 32-28. She subsequently improved upon that, finishing the game with 11 points and three assists plus a rebound.

Junior guard Karlie Samuelson was the team’s high scorer with 15 points, going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and 4-for-4 at the free-throw line. She added six rebounds, four assists, two steals and lots of scrappy plays that don’t show up in the box score.

Also in double figures was junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 11 points to go with 13 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season.

Sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson helped out with a game-high 15 rebounds, thus completing the third straight game in which she had more than 10 boards.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer altered the starting lineup somewhat, going with Lili, Karlie, Kaylee, Bird and freshman guard Marta Sniezek. Marta played 7 minutes, replaced mainly by junior guard Briana Roberson at the point. Bri had one of her better scoring games, finishing with 9 points, including two 3’s, plus two assists and one steal.

With 3,268 people in the stands, operatic tenor Don Gustafson opened the game by singing the national anthem as it was written.

Cal’s fan contingent included cheerleaders, band and Oskie, the Golden Bears’ mascot. Stanford countered with its band, cheerleaders, Tree and Dollies. Both bands seemed extra heavy on the drums, making me glad for my earplugs.

Lower level seats were festooned with red Stanford rally towels, which were handed out to other fans in the upper areas.

Cal had only seven available players, while Stanford had its full contingent of 14. They included junior forward Kailee Johnson, who had missed some previous games. She joined eight other players in the rotation.

The game started slowly, with no scoring until a basket by Cal after about two minutes had elapsed. Stanford’s first score came at the 7:32 mark, thanks to a basket by Kaylee.

The first quarter ended with Stanford trailing 7-15. The Cardinal inched up to the 25-24 lead at the halftime break and had only a 35-33 lead at the end of the third quarter.

In honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the video board displayed facts about the accomplishments of Stanford women’s sports teams, individual players and alumnae. For example, 22 of the 27 women’s national championships in the past 10 years were won by Stanford teams and individuals.

The Cal and Stanford women will face off again at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at Cal.

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