January 24, 2017

Bedeviling defense defeats ASU

The Stanford women’s basketball team completed its sweep of the Arizona schools by defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 66-56 at home on Jan. 22.

Marta, Brittany and Kaylee team up on defense. (Nhat V. Meyer, Bay Area News Group)

Stifling defense limited ASU to 29.6 percent shooting, while the Cardinal had a 45.8 percent success rate. Defense also led to several shot-clock violations by the visitors.

Also contributing to the win was relentless rebounding. Stanford had 37 rebounds, while ASU had 29.

Kaylee returns as starter

After missing several games and then coming off the bench for several more, junior forward Kaylee Johnson returned to the starting lineup. Playing 25 minutes, she had 6 points, four rebounds, two assists and no turnovers.

Joining her as starters were senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall, senior guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson, and junior guard Brittany McPhee.

All players were available except sophomore center Shannon Coffee, who was in street clothes. Head coach Tara VanDerveer said after the game that she wasn’t feeling well.

Bird led the scoring with 18 points, followed by Karlie with 15 and Brittany with 13.

Stanford led from start to finish. The score was 14-7 after the first quarter, 30-19 at the half and 49-33 after the third.

Helping to keep the crowd of 3,280 entertained, the cheerleaders and a portable cannon-wielding student tossed out T-shirts during the first quarter. In the third quarter, more T-shirts descended on parachutes.

Halftime started with the men’s soccer team parading onto the court carrying two NCAA national championship trophies –- one for last season and one for this.

A few minutes later, agility dogs from Ace Dog Sports showed their stuff, weaving through poles, jumping hurdles and scooting through tunnels, much to the crowd’s delight.

By the way, in the video showing Tara promoting this event, the attentive pooches on the sofa were her three golden retrievers.

Brittany hurts ankle but comes back to play

One scary moment came shortly before the half when Brittany fell under the south basket and gripped her ankle. She was assisted off the court to the locker room, and most fans assumed she was done for the day.

Thus there was a roar from the crowd when she returned from the locker room with her teammates to start the third quarter.

During the third quarter, an ASU player was assessed a flagrant 1 foul after a review of an encounter with Karlie, who made both free throws.

After the game, fans heard from associate head coach Amy Tucker, Karlie, Tara and Mary Murphey, commentator for the Pac 12 Network.

Commentator cites team’s improvement

Mary’s assessment of the team: “They’re getting better and better.” She praised Bird’s steady progress from her freshman year, when she was mentored by Chiney Ogwumike, ’14. “Don’t you see the Chiney effect?” Mary said.

In addition, “I love watching Karlie … Karlie is a great basketball player,” Mary said.

Amy echoed that sentiment, noting that Karlie is more than a 3-point shooter. “She’s one of the smartest players we’ve ever coached. She’ll be a fabulous coach.”

Karlie said she’s not sure what she’ll do after she graduates. Amy responded, “She’ll make a tremendous impact in everything she does.”

Free throw percentage, road wins lead conference

Even though some fans worry about free throws, Amy cited a little-known statistic: Stanford leads the Pac 12 in free throw percentage in Pac 12 games. The Cardinal logged a 77.3 percent success rate during that afternoon’s game.

Tara added that Stanford is the only conference team that’s undefeated on the road.

She was happy with this game’s defense and rebounding but not so happy with unforced errors. “Consistent play is what we’re looking for.”

She’s also pleased with the team’s camaraderie and its senior leadership.

Next the team will take its spotless road record to Washington State at 8 p.m. Jan. 27, followed by Washington at 5 p.m. Jan. 29. Both games can be seen on the Pac 12 Network.

January 21, 2017

Karlie joins elite group

Senior guard Karlie Samuelson has some distinguished company in the Stanford women’s basketball record book. During the team’s 73-46 defeat of Arizona in Maples on Jan. 20, she logged her 201st career 3-pointer.

She’s tied for seventh all-time with Nicole Powell, ’04, with 201. No doubt she’ll move up as the season progresses.

The record for 3’s is held by Candice Wiggins, ’08,  with 295, followed by Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, with 268 and Karlie’s sister Bonnie, ’15, with 237.

Fourth on the list is Vanessa Nygard, ’98, with 210. She’s followed by Kelly Suminski, ’05, with 208 and Sebnem Kimyacioglu,’05, with 205.

Karlie hit her 200th trey on a buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter. Her 3’s were among eight scored by the team. Adding to that total were senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall, junior guard Brittany McPhee, senior guard Briana Roberson and sophomore forward Alanna Smith, all with one each.

The game was essentially decided at the end of the first quarter when Stanford led 28-6, a 22-point margin. Likewise, the half ended 45-23, up 22 points. The third ended 63-36, up 27. The final score, 73-46, kept the margin at 27.

Starting the game for the Cardinal were Bird, Karlie, Brittany, Bri and freshman forward Nadia Fingall.

Much to the delight of the bench, all 11 available players had seen action by the end of the game, and all but sophomore guard Marta Sniezek had scored. Marta compensated for her lack of points by dishing out a game-high seven assists. She also had two rebounds and a steal.

Sophomore center Shannon Coffee was in street clothes and didn’t play. Freshman guard Anna Wilson wasn’t seen. Head coach Tara VanDerveer said after the game that Anna wasn’t feeling well.

Karlie led the scoring with 15 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. Bird and Britt had 13 each.  Junior forward Kaylee Johnson and Alanna both had 9. Like Karlie, Kaylee snared seven rebounds.

The team out-rebounded Arizona 44-27 and had the edge in assists, 19-8. Arizona was slightly better at hanging onto the ball, logging 16 turnovers, while Stanford had 17.

Next up is Arizona State at 3 p.m. Jan. 22. That game will be enlivened by the annual visit of the agility dogs during the half.

Tara helped to promote that game with a video of a coaching session with three dogs as her audience.

January 10, 2017

Outlasted by OSU

For the first time in 30 tries, Oregon State defeated the Stanford women’s basketball team at Maples, but it took two overtimes to accomplish the feat on Jan. 8.

In a hard-fought battle between the Pac 12’s two undefeated teams, regulation ended 51-51, the first OT 63-63 and the second OT 72-69 in the visitors’ favor.

Stanford had a chance to clinch the game at the end of regulation when junior guard Brittany McPhee hit a layup to tie the score and was fouled, but she missed the free throw.

More made free throws could have swung the game Stanford’s way. The team made only 17 of 26 FTs, or 65.4 percent. OSU was 11 of 14, or 78.6 percent.

Limited success from beyond the arc hurt, too, with only 4 of 9, or 44.4 percent, going in, with two from senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall and one each from Brittany and senior guard Briana Roberson. Senior guard Karlie Samuelson, usually so reliable from afar, got off no shots from that territory because someone from OSU was glued to her every step of the way.

A few more rebounds might have helped, with 45 by Stanford compared with 50 by OSU.

Brittany goes up for a layup. (San Jose Mercury News photo)

Brittany had missed the Oregon game with a sprained ankle, but she returned to the starting lineup for this one. She was joined by Bird, Karlie, Bri and freshman forward Nadia Fingall.

Anna Wilson, who had only recently returned to action, was in street clothes again.

It was a seesaw game with the score tied five times and the lead changing six times.

Bird and Nadia were the only Cardinal players in double figures with 25 and 10 points, respectively. Bri, Brittany and sophomore guard Marta Sniezek had 9 each. Nine players got into the game.

Next the Cardinal hit the road, playing Utah at 5 p.m. Jan. 13 and Colorado at 1 p.m. Jan. 15. Both games will be televised by the Pac 12 Network.

January 7, 2017

Alanna's night in the limelight

Although she reportedly had suffered a sprained ankle several days earlier, Alanna Smith led the Stanford women’s basketball team to an 81-60 victory over visiting Oregon on Jan. 6.

The sophomore forward from Australia scored 24 points in just 20 minutes, snared four rebounds, dished two assists and stole the ball twice. She was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, helping the team reach 83.3 percent, or 15-of-18 there.

She wasn’t alone in her efforts. Senior guard Briana Roberson chipped in 15 points, followed by senior forward Erica “Bird” McCall with 14. Senior guard Karlie Samuelson and sophomore guard Marta Sniezek had 9 each. Marta had opened the game with a successful drive to the basket.

One of the night’s many highlights came early in the third quarter when Marta took an inbounds pass and lobbed it to Karlie, who in turn lobbed to Alanna for the basket –- all without the ball touching the floor.

Both junior forward Kaylee Johnson and freshman guard Mikaela Brewer were back in action after injuries, but played limited minutes. Junior guard Brittany McPhee was out with a boot, reportedly from a sprained ankle.

The starting lineup featured Bird, Bri, Karlie, Marta and freshman forward Nadia Fingall. All 12 available players saw action before the final whistle.

Scoring included six 3’s, with three from Bri and one each from Karlie, Alanna and Bird.

Assists (17) outnumbered the team’s turnovers (14). Stanford held the edge in rebounds with 41, compared with 36 for the Ducks.

Once again the game was missing the band, Dollies and Tree because the administration has suspended all band activities. Instead too-loud canned music filled Maples.

One well received new twist to the game came between the third and fourth quarters, when T-shirts attached to white mini-parachutes fluttered from overhead into the crowd.

The score was 18-13 after the first quarter, 35-27 at the half and 57-45 after the third.

Oregon State comes calling at 5 p.m. Jan. 8.