March 20, 2018

Time to savor the Sweet 16

Alanna leads the team's celebration after the victory.
Alanna Smith poured in nearly a third of the Cardinal’s points as the Stanford women’s basketball team beat Florida Gulf Coast University 90-70 on March 19 to advance to the 
NCAA’s Sweet 16 for the 11th straight season.

The junior forward had 28 points and 12 rebounds in 37 minutes to make sure that the team’s two seniors would have happy memories of their final game at Maples.

Those two, guard Brittany McPhee and forward Kaylee Johnson, did their part. Britt contributed 17 points and nine rebounds while Kaylee had six points and 12 rebounds.

Kaylee and Britt, watched by Estella, in the locker room after their last game at Maples.
As they sat together on the bench late in the game, the TV broadcast (which I watched later) showed them seemingly treasuring the moment and each other as teammates and classmates.

In addition to Britt and Alanna’s contributions, double-digit scoring came from sophomore guard DiJonai Carrington with14 points and freshman guard Kiana Williams with 12.

Maya pulls in a rebound.
Eagles learn to Fear the Tree

The team showed why a Stanford sports motto is Fear the Tree. With no opposing player reaching 6 feet in height, the much-taller Cardinal crew took advantage in both scoring and rebounding. The home team’s advantage on the boards was a huge 52-18.

Height also helped with the 7-1 edge in blocks, with two each from Kaylee, Britt and freshman forward Maya Dodson and one from Alanna. Britt and DiJonai had three steals each, and Alanna had the other one of the team’s seven.

FGC showed why it’s known for its three-point prowess, making 17 to Stanford’s nine.  Thus the Eagles finished their season with an NCAA single season record of 431, according to FGC Athletics.

Percentage-wise, though, FGC’s three-point success rate in this game was 36.2 percent, while Stanford’s was 52.9 percent.

The shorter Eagles were called for 22 fouls versus Stanford’s 14. However, the Eagles hit five of six free throws, or 83.3 percent, while Stanford made 19 of 26, or 73.1 percent.

As has often been the case in previous games, turnovers were a problem. While FGC had 10, Stanford had 18, some of them caused by the opponent’s close-in defense. They led to 24 Eagles points. Stanford capitalized with 14 points off turnovers.

More stats favor Stanford

Some other notable numbers: Stanford had 40 points in the paint, FGC 12; 12 fast break points to FGC’s two and 19 second-chance points to FGC’s three.

As the game started, Stanford came out strong and was ahead 7-0 within the first two minutes before FGC called a time out. It did result in some three’s, but Stanford still came out ahead 33-17 after the first quarter. By then, Alanna had 13 points, and Stanford had collected 16 rebounds to the visitors’ two.

The second quarter wasn’t so great as the Eagles flew to within eight points for a score of 43-35 when the quarter ended.

The third quarter gave Stanford an 18-point edge, 66-48. Although the Eagles didn’t give up in the fourth quarter, head coach Tara VanDerveer felt comfortable taking out most of the starters with several minutes to go and clearing the bench for the final minute.

Unselfishness pleases fans

Mere numbers don’t tell the whole story. The game was filled with numerous highlights, giving the partisan crowd of 2,049 ample reasons to cheer. Many of the highlights involved unselfish assists by junior guard Marta Sniezek with four and Kiana with six of the team’s 17 total.

The Cardinal are 36-4 in NCAA home games at Maples. Now it’s on to Lexington, Ky., regional for the third year in a row. There the four seed Stanford Cardinal will face the one seed Louisville Cardinals at 6 p.m. PDT March 23 on ESPN.

Also making the Lexington regional are two seed Baylor and six seed Oregon State.

Photos by Bob Drebin/