November 16, 2016

Father knows best

When Darren Smith, father of sophomore forward Alanna Smith, was asked what advice he had for the Stanford women’s basketball team during the third quarter of its game against Texas, he had just five words: “Get the ball to Brittany.”

Evidently the team heard the man who had played professional basketball in Australia for 12 years. Junior guard Brittany McPhee poured in a team-high, game-high and career-high 28 points to lead the 11th- ranked Cardinal to a decisive 71-59 victory over the visiting 8th-ranked Longhorns on Nov. 14.

Alanna’s father and mother, Simone, were visiting their daughter from their home in Australia.

Alanna drives to the basket.
As if heeding her dad’s advice, Alanna immediately dished an assist to Brittany, raising the score to 48-39 and giving Brittany her 25th point, one past her previous career high of 24.

A few minutes later, though, Alanna went to the floor during a scrum under the Texas basket and didn’t pop up right away until senior guard Karlie Samuelson helped her to her feet. Trainer Katelin Knox accompanied Alanna toward the locker room, but she returned to the bench a short time later.

She didn’t see any more action, but she eagerly joined her teammates in tossing victory balls after the game. Her stat line showed 5 points, one rebound and two assists in nine minutes.

Brittany gets a high five from Kate after the game.
Not content with merely scoring 28 points, Brittany had seven rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 39 minutes. Her scoring included two-of-two on treys. Also contributing 3’s were Karlie and senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with one each.

Bird has six blocks

Although Bird’s 17 points were second on the team, they were almost overshadowed by her six blocks. For example, early in the second quarter she made two in a row during one Texas possession. She also had five rebounds, two assists and one steal in 39 minutes.

Bird, Brittany, junior forward Kaylee Johnson, senior guard Briana Roberson and sophomore guard Marta Sniezek started the game. In an encouraging sign, Marta scored the team’s first 2 points on a drive to the basket. A second drive was unsuccessful. She finished with 3 points, thanks to a free throw, but she also had five assists and one steal in 25 minutes.

Karlie was first off the bench, filling in for Bri.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer used eight of the 12 available players. Besides Karlie and Alanna, the only other player off the bench was freshman forward Nadia Fingall, who had one rebound and one assist in four minutes.

The evening opened with a well received operatic rendition of the national anthem from Steve Goodman, Stanford professor of medicine.

Shortly thereafter, Lili Thompson arrived and sat courtside opposite the Texas bench. Lili left the team for undisclosed reasons after last season but is completing her senior year at Stanford.

Despite all the bright spots and the victory, the team still has areas of concern, especially the 20 turnovers. It also was outrebounded 38-32.

The team made only 11 of 18 free throws, or 61.1 percent, but Texas was worse, making six of 14, or 42.9 percent.

Team edges ahead after first quarter

The game’s start wasn’t all that promising, with Stanford lagging 17-18 after the first quarter. The team pulled away during the second quarter, which ended 35-29, and the third, when the score was 58-50.

Attendance, 2,447, seemed sparse for a game between nationally ranked teams, but the 5 p.m. start time on a work night could have been a factor, as could have been the national telecast. Some fans arrived after the game had started.

Next up is another home game, this one against Gonzaga at 7 p.m. Nov. 18. It will be quickly followed by another home game against Cal State Northridge at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 20.

Photos by Don Feria IsiPhotos

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