April 20, 2016

Season reflections --- Part 3 of 3

The Stanford women’s basketball team entered the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle as the 4 seed.

Stanford and UCLA had identical 14-4 conference records for third in the conference, but the Bruins’ defeat of the Cardinal during the season led to the 4 seed.

Therefore, the Cardinal faced 5 seed Washington on March 4. Suffering a 73-65 loss to the Huskies, the team went home early and empty-handed.

Junior forward Erica “Bird” McCall scored 22 points to lead the team, followed by junior guards Karlie Samuelson and Lili Thompson with 14 each. Freshman guard Marta Sniezek didn’t score, but she set a tournament record with 13 assists and no turnovers.

Easy win over USF opens NCAA play

With a 4 seed, the Cardinal fared far better in the NCAA tournament, hosting the first two rounds on March 19 and 21.

In the first round, Stanford easily defeated the 13th-seeded University of San Francisco, 85-58.

Before the game started, photographers clustered around head coach Tara VanDerveer as she chatted with USF head coach Jennifer Azzi, ’90, one of Stanford’s first great WBB players.

Starters featured four juniors –- Bird, Lili, Karlie and guard Briana Roberson –- plus sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson. Lili led the scoring with 17 points, followed by Bird with 14, Kaylee with 13 and Karlie with 11.

Marta, who had been known mainly for assists, showed more assertiveness in shooting, scoring 8 points, including a 3. Her 3 was one of the team’s eight. The others came from Karlie and Lili with two each and from Bird, Bri and freshman forward Alanna Smith with one each.

Stanford dominated USF in every statistical category, especially rebounds, with a 49-22 advantage. Bird had 10, while Kaylee had nine.

Everyone got to play except for freshman forward/center Shannon Coffee, who was in a boot, as she had been in recent games.

Squeaker for Tara’s 1,000th game at Stanford

Tara issues instructions in her 1,000 game on  The Farm. (Stanford Athletics)
The next game, against South Dakota State on March 21, was Tara’s 1,000th at Stanford. Beyond the number itself, it will be memorable for the score –- 66-65.

It took a mighty effort in just under 5 minutes to erase an 8-point deficit against the 12th-seeded Jackrabbits, and victory wasn’t assured until the very last second.

The final heroics came from Lili and Bird. Lili made a driving layup to tie the game 65-65 with 8.2 seconds left. She was fouled in the process and made the free throw to put the Cardinal ahead. SD State got off one last shot, but Bird blocked it.

It wasn’t a pretty game. Poor free-throw shooting, 10 of 22, or 45.5 percent, nearly sabotaged the team. SD State was more successful at the line, making 7 of 13, or 53.8 percent.

The starting lineup remained the same as against USF, and it did most of the heavy lifting, scoring 61 points. Four bench players got into the game but made only 5 points.

Lili, Karlie and Bri celebrate the squeaker win. (Stanford Athletics)
Lili played all 40 minutes and scored 19 points. Bird had foul trouble and played 32 minutes, but scored 20 points.

Cardinal upsets Notre Dame in Sweet Sixteen

The win earned the team a Sweet Sixteen berth against 1-seeded Notre Dame in Lexington, Ky., on March 25.

The result was a huge upset win for Stanford, 90-84, led by Bird with 27 points, Karlie with 20, Kaylee with 17, and Lili and Marta with 11 each.

Bird and Karlie rejoice after the Notre Dame upset.
Success beyond the arc helped a lot with a total of 11 3’s. Karlie had five, Lili three, and Bird, Bri and Marta one each.

Washington plays spoiler again

Washington again proved to have the knockout punch, downing Stanford 85-76 in an Elite Eight game on March 27.

The Cardinal couldn’t overcome a slow start, ending the first quarter with a 22-7 deficit. During the rest of the game, Stanford bested Washington by 4 in the second quarter, while Washington had only 1 more in the third quarter, and Stanford had 3 more in the final quarter.

With the outcome clear, Tara made sure that the three seniors –- forward/center Tess Picknell and guards Alex Green and Kiran Lakhian –- had their final chance to play.

Lili had 19 points, Bird 17, Karlie 12 and Marta 10.

Washington went on to the Final Four, losing to Syracuse in the semi-final game in Indianapolis.

Although it had been an up-and-down season, the team rewrote parts of the record book. Its 211 blocks broke the Stanford record of 196 in 2001-02, and its 13 blocks against USC on Jan. 22 matched the record set in 1989 against ASU.

Despite winning neither the Pac-12 season nor tournament, it extended its Pac-12 record for most 20-win seasons with 27 and advanced to the Elite Eight for the 18th time.

Lili and Bird were named to the All-Pac-12 team, while Karlie received honorable mention. Bird was named to the All-Defensive team. Honorable mention went to Kaylee and Lili.

Banquet honors team one last time

The team and fans had one last chance to celebrate at the annual banquet April 10 in Dallmar Court.

It gave Tara a chance to thank everyone who contributed to the team’s success in some way and to praise each player individually. Lili did not attend the banquet.

Shannon was on crutches following recent foot surgery.

The seniors came in for special praise for their big contributions as practice players. They also had a chance to speak to the crowd and give their thanks.

Kiran, Alex and Tess each received her framed jersey with her photo and team accomplishments.

Tara expressed her hope that the returning players would dedicate themselves to improvement before next season, starting the next day.

No comments:

Post a Comment