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.