December 6, 2016

Victory over UCD ups record to 8-1

Despite a dearth of threes and frees –- plus no Tree –- the Stanford women’s basketball team handily defeated UC Davis 68-42 on Dec. 4 in Maples and improved to 8-1 on the season.

The team wore turquoise uniforms with red lettering and trim in honor of Native American Heritage Month. In Navajo culture, turquoise represents harmony, friendship and fellowship.

With junior forward Kaylee Johnson sidelined by a foot injury, the starting lineup featured sophomore guard Marta Sniezek, senior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson, junior guard Brittany McPhee and senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall.

Bird topped the team with 17 points and 13 rebounds to go with one block. The only other Cardinal player in double digits was Brittany with 11, plus four rebounds, one assist and 
one block.

Everyone scores

All 11 available players saw at least six minutes of action, all scored, and no one played more than 28 (Marta). As the game clock wound down, only sophomore center Shannon Coffee hadn’t scored. However, thanks to an unselfish assist from freshman guard DiJonai Carrington, Shannon scored the team’s final basket, evoking cheers from her teammates.

Never trailing, the team led 20-8 after the first quarter, 36-20 at the half and 47-26 after the third.

Defense was tight, limiting Davis to 23.4 percent shooting, compared with Stanford’s 44.4 percent. The Cardinal also had a rebounding advantage, 54-38.

When the players in turquoise shot from beyond the arc, though, things weren’t so bright. Only three of 19 treys, or 15.8 percent, went through the net. Bri, sophomore guard Alexa Romano and freshman guard Mikaela Brewer accounted for them. Davis had more success, making six of 25, or 24 percent.

Free-throw shooting was deficient, too, with only nine of 24, or 37.5 percent, going in.

After the game, season ticket holders were invited to a gathering in Dallmar Court to enjoy refreshments and to hear from the coaches and players.

Tournament was good experience
Associate head coach Amy Tucker began the event by noting that the team had played and won three games in three days at a tournament in Cancun, Mexico, over the Thanksgiving break. “It really benefited our team,” she said.

She asked Alexa to talk about the three weeks she had spent in India as part of a service program with Duke during the summer. Paired with five Duke athletes and four others from Stanford, Alexa taught English and basketball in New Delhi.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer then took the microphone, saying, “This was a big win for us.” Davis had lost only one game coming into Maples. “We did a great job defensively,” she said.

The team had preceded this win with one at Cal State Bakersfield, coached by Bird’s father, Greg, in her hometown. “It was amazing” to beat her dad, she said, and she was pleased by the surprise visit of her sister, DeWanna Bonner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

Tara complimented Bird, saying she “runs the floor as well as any post player we’ve had.”

As for the two inactive players, Tara said she hopes to have Kaylee back soon. It hasn’t been decided if freshman guard Anna Wilson, who hasn’t played because of a concussion in the spring, will redshirt. “We’re hoping she plays,” Tara said.

Seniors name influential classes

She asked the three seniors which Stanford classes had been most influential. Karlie cited the autism class she’s taking, while Bird named cultural psychology and Bri listed ethics and politics of public service.

Before introducing each player, Tara said, “We’re just getting better and better. … Our freshmen are phenomenal. … This is a special team.”

Of sophomore forward Alanna Smith, the Australian who’s the team’s first international player, she said, “She has stepped up her game.”

The team’s second international player, Mikaela from Canada, is “very athletic (and) a quick learner.” She’s the oldest of six children.

Alexa is “a quiet assassin out there. She gets things done.”

Anna has been “working very hard on the sidelines (and) will be a great addition to our program.”

DiJonai is “very aggressive (and) coachable. She listens well.”

For Marta, also from a large family as the eighth of nine children, “the sky’s the limit,” Tara said. Earlier Tara called Marta “a phenomenally talented point guard (and) an extremely unselfish player.”

Bri, one of the team’s four captains, is “becoming a defensive stopper for us,” in addition to having “great offensive skills.”

Another captain, Bird, ‘is just scratching the surface.” She’s a “great leader,” too.

The next captain, Karlie, could be a coach. She’s “one of our glue players,” and “very unselfish.”

As for Kaylee, the fourth captain, “you know what to expect from her.” She’s a “blue collar player (and) a vocal team leader.”

Freshman forward Nadia Fingall “is off to a great start. She can score on anybody,” making about 75 percent of her shots.

Shannon “is another very smart player (who) passes the ball well.” She’s healthy this year, unlike last year.

What’s on tap for the team

Looking ahead, Tara said the game at Tennessee on Dec. 18 will be tough. “We’ve got a lot of improving to do.”

In the meantime, this is dead week at Stanford, to be followed by finals next week.

After the Tennessee game, the team will travel to the nation’s capital to face George Washington U on Dec. 21.

Players will have four days off to celebrate Christmas before returning Dec. 26 to host Yale on Dec. 28.

Pac-12 competition begins at Arizona State on Dec. 30 and at Arizona on New Year’s Day.

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