November 17, 2018

Team chalks up win over USF

Wearing a turquoise uniform, Jenna goes in for a layup against USF. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Three things made the Stanford women’s basketball team’s 96-62 defeat of the Dons from the University of San Francisco special on Nov. 15 --- two of them positive, the other not so much.

The positive aspects were the honoring of Native American Heritage Month with turquoise uniforms trimmed in red and the signing of three players in the No. 3 nationally ranked (by espnWHoopGurlz) 2018 recruiting class.

Destined for the Farm next fall are Fran Belibi of Aurora, Colo., Hannah Jump of nearby Los Altos Hills and Ashten Prechtel of Colorado Springs, Colo. They signed letters of intent on Nov. 14.

Ohio State game canceled because of unhealthy air

The negative aspect was the Bay Area’s unhealthy air caused by the fire raging in Butte County. Some people wore masks as a precaution. Others  might have stayed home, for attendance was only 2,077. Many schools closed, including Stanford, and many athletic events were moved, postponed or canceled.

They included the Nov. 18 home game against Ohio State, according to a Nov. 16 announcement from Stanford. It will not be rescheduled this season. Games in other sports were affected, too. See the announcement at

Now for the best part --- the win that gave the Cardinal a 3-0 record to start the season.
Once again the starters were senior forward Alanna Smith, junior forward Nadia Fingall, freshman forward Lexie Hull, junior guard DiJonai Carrington and sophomore guard Kiana Williams.

Sophomore forward Maya Dodson and freshman forward Lacie Hull were first off the bench, followed by junior guard Anna Wilson, freshman guard Jenna Brown and sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome in the first quarter.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, all 14 players had seen action. Three were in double figures: Kiana with 21, Alanna with 18 and Maya with 10. USF used its nine available players with eight scoring.

Seven players contribute to team’s 15 three’s

Boosting the host’s score were 15 three’s from seven players: Alanna with five, Kiana four and Lacie two. Nadia, DiJonai, Alyssa and sophomore forward Estella Moschkau had one each.

The team boasted 24 assists with only nine turnovers, while USF was eight and 15 in those categories.

Eleven blocks were impressive, too, with four each by Alanna and Maya, two by Alyssa and one by senior center Shannon Coffee.

Each team had four steals. However, in a stat unusual for Stanford, USF had 39 rebounds to Stanford’s 34. Many of the Dons’ rebounds seemed to come when Stanford missed a three and no Stanford players were close enough to the basket.

Quick start for the Cardinal

The Cardinal came out blazing. Alanna got the opening tip, and the team immediately made four three’s in a row, starting with DiJonai, followed by Alanna, Kiana and Nadia. Just slightly over three minutes into the quarter, Stanford led 14-4 with 100 percent shooting.

That total accuracy didn’t last. It ended at 51 percent for the game, compared with USF’s 33 percent. Free-throw shooting was 60 percent, compared with USF’s 73 percent.

Fans had a few minutes of anxiety when Kiana limped off the court and headed for the locker room shortly before the end the first quarter, but she quickly returned to action for the second quarter. She limped off again in the third quarter but returned to action.

Starters become fans for final 10 minutes

Like the other starters, she stayed on the bench to cheer her teammates during the fourth quarter with the game firmly in hand.

Only two kids showed up for Conga on the Court after the first quarter. Cardinal Categories in the second quarter featured a fan trying to name as many musical instruments as possible in 15 seconds, followed by a video of Mikaela doing the same.

A lucky fan won $100 by emulating Mikaela’s underhanded free throw as Copy the Cardinal started halftime. Next came Stanford’s Polynesian dance troupe of eight women and four men, one of whom lost his sarong but continued to dance the final moments in his black shorts.

The game was a mini-reunion for head coach Tara VanDerveer, as she welcomed two of her former players: USF head coach Molly Goodenbour, ’93, and associate head coach Katy Steding, ’90.

Next on the schedule is a three-game tournament in Hawaii on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.

November 13, 2018

Wide win over Idaho

Kiana soars on her way to 19 points against Idaho. (Karen Ambrose Hickey)

Head coach Tara VanDerveer was smiling when she came out to speak to Stanford women’s basketball fans at the Behind the Bench on Nov. 11.

No wonder. The Cardinal had just soundly defeated the Idaho Vandals 115-71. That was the most points the team had scored since 1994 and “the fifth-highest point total ever and most since tying a school record of 122 against Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 10, 1994”, Associated Press reported.

More accomplishments: The team’s 16 three’s matched a school record. And it hadn’t scored 100 points or more in two years.

Still, there might have been a slightly bittersweet flavor to the win since Idaho gave Tara her first head coaching job 40 years ago, when she went on to the first 42 wins of her career. She had never before coached against the school.

“It’s a little weird playing Idaho,” she said to fans. “I loved living there and coaching there” in Moscow, Idaho.

On the other hand, “I like scoring 100.”

She praised the team for its unselfishness and for the returning players’ so willingly helping the freshmen.

Zone defense doesn’t trouble this team

She noted that Idaho used a zone defense, something that had troubled last year’s team. “That didn’t work,” she said. “This year’s team is completely different from last year’s.”

It can play at a fast pace “because we have more people, and people are fast.” Even better, “I saw people making improvements during the game.”

She kept the same starting lineup as in past games with senior forward Alanna Smith, junior forward Nadia Fingall, freshman forward Lexie Hull, junior guard DiJonai Carrington and sophomore guard Kiana Williams.

Alanna and Kiana led the scoring with 19 points each, followed by Lexie with 17 and Nadia with 16. Scoring in double figures off the bench were junior guard Anna Wilson and sophomore forward Maya Dodson, each with 10.

Seven score from beyond the arc

Lexie accounted for five of the 16 three’s, followed by Kiana with four, Alanna and Anna with two each, and DiJonai, sophomore forward Estella Moschkau and freshman guard Jenna Brown with one each. One fan commented that Lexie reminds her of sharpshooter Karlie Samuelson, ’17.

Stanford dominated the board with 49 rebounds, compared with Idaho’s 20. Quick hands accounted for eight steals, compared with the visitors’ four. Stanford also had the advantage in assists, 26-14, and blocks, 7-2. The Cardinal had only 10 turnovers, the Vandals 16.

For the game, Stanford shot 53.6 percent, Idaho 42.4 percent. If it weren’t for Idaho’s 15 three’s, the score might have been even more lopsided.

Everyone gets into the game

Tara used all 14 available players (12 scored), while Idaho could use only 10. Senior guard Marta Sniezek is still recovering from a hand injury. It’s uncertain when she’ll return.

Official attendance was 2,582, including the band, Tree and cheerleaders, but no Dollies.

Stanford led from the very first, with Alanna winning the tipoff and then scoring a three followed by a two plus another two more on a putback.

When the first quarter ended 28-19, Tara had already used eight players, with Anna, Maya and freshman forward Lacie Hull getting the nod.

Alexa joins the action during the second quarter. (Stanford Athletics)
The second quarter began with the same starters and ended 56-33. By then, Jenna, junior forward Alyssa Jerome and senior guard Alexa Romano had joined in. The Cardinal had a 25-9 rebounding edge.

During a timeout in that quarter, the Hull twins, Lacie and Lexie, played Whisper Challenge on the videoboard. One had sound-deadening ear phones and had to figure out what the other was saying: first “Tara VanDerveer” and then “Cool as a cucumber.” That was the toughie.

Copy the Cardinal highlighted halftime. A fan had three chances to make a trick shot by a player. The video showed Anna making an over-the-backboard basket. The fan succeeded on the third try and won $100.

Third quarter’s 40 points assure victory

The third quarter essentially clinched the win as Stanford poured in 40 points, Idaho 23.

All starters relaxed during the fourth quarter while bench players took over. They 
included senior center Shannon Coffee, who had spent much of the game on an exercise bike. She had two points and a rebound.

Amazing Maya. (Stanford Athletics)
Besides her 10 points, Maya’s stat line showed five rebounds, a block and a steal. What the statistics don’t show are her speed, her athleticism, her long reach and her high leaps. I call her Amazing Maya. Tara agreed with a fan’s comment about her, saying she’s terrific.

The triplets, from left, Lacie, Jenna and Lexie (Stanford Athletics)
Kate introduces freshmen

Before Tara joined the Behind the Bench, associate head coach Kate Paye introduced the freshmen: Lacie, Lexie and Jenna. She said they’re called the triplets. “These three freshmen are doing awesome.” They’ve had an immediate impact.

Lacie said the hardest adjustment she had to make was time management.  She chose Stanford because it’s “the best place in every aspect.”

Jenna essentially agreed, except for the smoke from the Butte County fire that made the air hazardous.

Although they don’t have to declare majors until their junior year, Jenna said she’s leaning toward public policy and economics. Both twins said they’re interested in engineering.

Because Lacie and Lexie are identical, it’s hard to tell them apart without their jerseys (Lexie 12, Lacie 24). As a trick for Halloween, they switched jerseys. “I figured it out right away,” Kate said, but some others needed more time.

Tara has been a head coach for 40 years and has been at Stanford since 1985. Answering a fan, she said what’s most important to her is “a great experience for our team.” She proud of its improvement and enjoys watching everyone mature.

Kaylee helps with broadcast

One of the many players who matured over the years is 2018 grad Kaylee Johnson. She was on the sidelines providing color commentary for the radio broadcast. She said she’s clerking at a law office in Mountain View and has been applying to law schools.

So far she has been accepted at three, but she’s hoping for Cal. Even though it’s Stanford’s major rival, its law school offers what she’s most interested in, she said.

She added that she misses playing basketball, but her knees feel better.

After the game, a group of fans went to the Fish Market in Palo Alto for dinner. Before long, they saw Maya, Nadia, junior guard Mikaela Brewer and Maya’s parents go to a 
nearby table. They graciously accepted congratulations.

The next games are at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 against USF and 1 p.m. Nov. 18 against Ohio State. The latter will be televised by the Pac 12 Network.

November 8, 2018

Finishing with a flourish

The Hull twins, freshman forwards Lacie (24) and Lexie (12), greet sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome.

Although it wasn’t always pretty when AP’s No. 7 Stanford women’s basketball team defeated UC Davis 71-43 in its season opener Nov. 7 in Maples, the Cardinal showed flashes of good times to come.

And as head coach Tara VanDerveer says, it’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish.

This was true in even in this game. The score was 17-14 after the first quarter, 36-24 after the second, 57-34 after the third and 71-43 after the fourth.

Abundant boards

The finish also yielded some impressive numbers beyond the final score, starting with rebounds, where the home team had a 50-25 advantage. Assists also were in the plus column, with 10 by Stanford and six by Davis.

The Cardinal shot a respectable but not great 42.6 percent, compared with 22.6 by the Aggies, in part due to tough defense. Shooting from the free-throw line was 72.2 percent by Stanford vs. 53.8 percent by Davis.

Davis shot 25.8 percent beyond the arc with eight three’s, while Stanford shot 25 percent with six. Sophomore guard Kiana Williams chipped in three, while senior forward Alanna Smith, senior guard Alexa Romano and freshman forward Lexie Hull had one each.

Moreover, Stanford racked up too many turnovers, 21 to the Aggies’ 19. Many of those turnovers came on errant passes.

Steals were close, 13 by Davis, 12 by Stanford (four by Lexie); as were fouls, 18 by Stanford, 17 by Davis.

Alanna, Nadia, DiJonai, Kiana, Lexie get the start

The starting lineup was the same as in the exhibition game against Vanguard, with Alanna, Kiana, Lexie, junior forward Nadia Fingall and junior guard DiJonai Carrington.

Sophomore forward Maya Dodson was first off the bench, followed by freshman guard Jenna Brown, freshman forward Lacie Hull and sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome, all in the first quarter.

All 14 available players got into the game by the time the final buzzer sounded. Four players were in double figures, led by Alanna with 16 even though she had four fouls, limiting her floor time to 15 minutes.

Injury sidelines Kiana in second half

Kiana followed with 14 points even though she missed the second half after a nasty fall and appeared to hit her face late in the second quarter. 

Playing the point, Kiana orchestrates the offense.
She stayed in action until the halftime break but didn’t emerge from the locker room until about four minutes into the third quarter. There was no official word on her injury.

Next came Lexie with 11 points to go with 11 rebounds for the team’s only double-double. Maya pitched in 10 points and led the team with three decisive blocks.

The band, Tree and Dollies were all there to support the team, but not the cheerleaders. Attendance was reported as 2,471.

Senior forward Shannon Coffee, Alanna and Nadia sport their new Stanford socks.
Socks for socks

Game-goers who donated a new pair of socks for the homeless received a spiffy pair of red Stanford socks in exchange.

The yearbook, on sale at Roscoe’s Corner at the northwest entrance, costs $10 and covers both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Timeouts featured one old favorite and a new one. The old favorite was Copy the Cardinal, in which a fan tried to duplicate a player’s video feat. In this case, sophomore forward Estella Moschkau made two free throws while seated at the line.

The new one was Cardinal Category. This time a fan and Estella were each asked to name as many sights at a zoo as possible in 15 seconds. It was a draw with nine apiece.

Stanford has three more games at home -- Idaho at 2 p.m. Nov. 11, San Francisco at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and Ohio State at 1 p.m. Nov. 18 -- before going to Hawaii for a three-game tournament the weekend after Thanksgiving.

The Idaho game will feature a post-game Behind the Bench. The Ohio State game will be televised by the Pac 12 Network.

Photos by Stanford Athletics

November 2, 2018

Exhibition proves entertaining

Senior captains Alanna Smith (center) and Shannon Coffee do the pre-game greetings.

Although it was only an exhibition game that doesn’t count, the Stanford women’s basketball team’s 87-36 victory over visiting Vanguard on Nov. 1 provided plenty of entertainment.

It also provided some insight into what’s ahead as 13 players got onto the court and 12 scored.

The only ones who didn’t play were senior guard Marta Sniezek, who has a hand injury, and freshman guard Jenna Brown. She was in uniform and warmed up with the team, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported that she had a minor ankle injury.

Otherwise, it was full speed ahead, literally, as the Cardinal came out of the gate scoring early and often. It wasn’t until just under three minutes to go in the first quarter, with Stanford up 15-0, that the Lions scored their first two points on free throws.

Before the game began, fans entering Maples encountered new ticket-scanning machines in addition to the Red Coats’ handheld scanners.

Alanna, Shannon serve as captains

In the traditional pre-game handshakes by the refs and captains, Stanford was represented by two seniors, center Shannon Coffee and forward Alanna Smith.

Alanna was joined in the starting lineup by forwards Nadia Fingall, junior, and Lexie Hull, freshman; along with guards DiJonai Carrington, junior, and Kiana Williams, sophomore. Kiana did the honors at the point, while Alanna was the center.

Nadia scored the first 2 points on a tip-in, followed by Kiana with a trey.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer substituted early and often, first sending in junior guard Anna Wilson and sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome.

Maya, who had 10 points, goes for a layup. 
They were followed  in short order by sophomore forward Maya Dodson; freshman forward Lacie Hull, Lexie’s identical twin; Shannon; and senior guard Alexa Romano.

Stanford led 20-4 at the end of the first quarter. Sophomore forward Estella Moschkau came in during the second quarter, which ended 44-17. After the third quarter had ended 66-26, junior guard Mikaela Brewer saw her first action.

Numbers tell the story

The Cardinal dominated nearly every statistical category, such as rebounds, 52-26; assists, 23-3;  blocks, 10-2; steals, 7-3; and 3-pointers, 11-8. Both teams had 14 fouls. Stanford had nine turnovers to Vanguard’s 12.

Stanford’s 3’s came from eight players: Kiana with three and Anna with two, plus one each from Alanna, Lexie, DiJonai, Nadia, Alyssa and Estella.

Lexie, who led the team in scoring, drives to the basket.
Because no one played more than 24 minutes (Nadia), no one had gaudy scoring numbers. Lexie with 11 and Maya with 10 were the only ones in double figures.

Overall shooting was so-so, 46.7 percent (thanks to some missed bunnies); as were free throws, 6 of 10, or 60 percent.

Positives in passing, assists, pace

One might surmise that the frequent changes limited on-floor cohesiveness, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Mostly sharp passing, nifty assists and a fast pace were the team’s hallmarks.

Official attendance reported as 1,882. Because it was an exhibition game, the band, cheerleaders and Dollies weren’t there.

Presumably they will be there when competition starts for real with UC Davis at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 and Idaho at 2 p.m. Nov. 11, both at home.

Fans who donate a new pair of socks for the homeless on Nov. 7 will receive a pair of Stanford socks.

On Nov. 11, they can receive the first of three trading cards honoring Tara’s 40 years of coaching. This game will be followed by a Behind the Bench.

Photos by Bob Drebin/