February 28, 2016

Win over Oregon on Senior Day

The Stanford women’s basketball team honored its three seniors with a 69-42 victory over Oregon and a post-game ceremony on Feb. 28.
Stingy defense held the visiting Ducks scoreless for just under seven minutes in first quarter, while the sizzling offense had already scored 15 points. The Cardinal never trailed, leading 24-4 after the first quarter, 39-18 at the half and 54-34 after the third.
As had been true in the win over OSU two days earlier, the team was missing its leading scorer, junior guard Lili Thompson, because of a death in her family. Once again freshman center Shannon Coffee was in a boot.
Junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall duplicated her OSU career-high output with 25 points and added a career-high 18 rebounds to go with two assists, three blocks and four steals. This was Bird’s 14th double-double in the past 15 games. Her scoring included one of the team’s eight 3-pointers.
The others came from junior guards Karlie Samuelson and Briana Roberson, who had two each, while freshman forward Alanna Smith and senior guard Kiran Lakhian had one each.
Lots of assistance

The team tied its season-high with 22 assists, led by Karlie with five. Bri and freshman guard and Marta Sniezek had four each. Sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson had three. The team assisted on 75.9 percent (22-of-29) of its baskets.

The starters were Bird, Karlie, Bri, Kaylee and sophomore guard Brittany McPhee.

Just before the starting lineups were announced, head coach Tara VanDerveer presented flowers to four of Oregon’s six seniors. The other two are injured and weren’t there.

A forest of Trees

Before the game and during the first half, the 4,082 fans were treated to the spectacle of four Trees joined by a man wearing green shorts and a brown vest.
The significance of this Treesome became clear during halftime, when this year’s Tree gave her costume to that man, who is next year’s Tree. After accepting his fellow Trees’ salutes, he completed the game as a solo act.
With the game well in hand and the third quarter drawing to a close, Kiran checked in to play the point. Just after she made a fast-break layup, making the score 61-38 at 6:30 in the fourth quarter, she got a big hug from redshirt senior Alex Green during the ensuing time out.
Alex and forward/center Tess Picknell, the team’s other senior, soon got in on the action. Alex’s teammates were elated when she scored at the 1:10 mark.
Ceremony salutes seniors
After the game, the players and staff remained on the floor to honor the seniors.  
Alex, who is pursuing a double major in science, technology and society along with film and media studies, was accompanied by her mother.
Kiran, majoring in human biology, was accompanied by her roommate because her parents were out of the country.
Film and media studies major Tess was joined by her parents and sister.
Seniors’ contributions behind the scenes
Although these seniors don’t get much playing time, Tara stressed that “a lot of what they do, you don’t see.” They help their teammates prepare for the next game by running the opponents’ plays and replicating leading players' tendencies. This is in addition to the need to know Stanford’s plays.
Alex went through Senior Day last year, but because she tore her ACL during the season, she returned as a fifth-year senior.
Speaking for the team, Karlie said she was glad to have Alex back. She’s been a good friend, and “I’m going to miss her,” Karlie said.
Alex said she’s not sure what she’ll do next year. She’d like to travel, but eventually she wants to go into athletic administration. As for the biggest lesson she learned from Tara: “You must have confidence in yourself to have others believe in you,” Alex said.
Bird said she and her teammates were glad when Kiran decided to return. Kiran had played as a walk-on during her freshman year, but left the team for the next two years. “I’m super blessed to have her as a friend,” Bird said.
Kiran said she hopes to earn a master’s degree in public health or maybe sports medicine. She teared up when she said it was hard not playing basketball for two years. “I’m really happy to have a second chance,” she said.
Bri said of Tess, “She has a really great personality. She’s a great senior, and I’m sad to see her go.”
Tess eludes rattlesnake at age 12
Her father said that Tess first started watching Stanford play at the Pit, as Oregon’s former gym was known, at the age of 6. When she was 12, she faced down a rattlesnake and wasn’t bitten. Instead, her dad killed and skinned the snake before it became a meal for the family. When Tara made her home visit during the recruiting process, she took note of the snakeskin that still hangs on the wall.
Tess, a film and media studies major, hopes to have a career in film.   She said she’s pretty certain she’ll work as a production assistant on a film this summer.
Ending the ceremony, Tara thanked the seniors and took note of the upcoming Pac-12 tournament in Seattle.
As the No. 4 seed, Stanford will have a bye. It will play its first game at 8:30 p.m. March 4 against the winner of the previous day’s game between No. 12 Colorado and No. 5 Washington. 
If the Cardinal win that game, they would play again at 8:30 p.m. March 5. The championship game is at 6 p.m. March 6. All games will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

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