January 21, 2019

Milestones for Tara, Alanna in WSU game

Head coach Tara VanDerveer is at the center of the team's celebration.
Guiding the Stanford women’s basketball team to an 85-64 victory over Washington State on Jan. 20, head coach Tara VanDerveer hit another milestone in her illustrious career.

It was her 900th victory at Stanford and the 1,052nd in her 40 years of college coaching.

As the players gathered for their traditional post-game circle at center court, they made sure Tara was inside that circle for hugs and plaudits.

Alanna scores career-high 34

Her next stop was the TV broadcast table for an interview by Pac 12 Network announcer Layshia Clarendon. At her side was senior forward Alanna Smith, who had just poured in a career-high 34 points. She also snared 15 rebounds and had three assists, two blocks and a steal in 31 minutes.

Alanna and Tara head back to the locker room after an interview.
The two then walked back to the locker room with their arms around each other.

Also scoring in double figures were sophomore guard Kiana Williams with 19 and junior guard DiJonai Carrington with 11.

Everyone gets into the act
All 11 available players got into the game, and seven scored. Those who didn’t score made other contributions like rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. The crowd of 2,908 cheered loudly when two of those blocks were by two of the team’s shorter players, junior guard Mikaela Brewer and freshman guard Jenna Brown.

The starters were the usual five: Alanna, Kiana, DiJonai, sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome and freshman forward Lacie Hull.

Boosting the point total were the team’s 10 three’s. Alanna had four, Kiana three, Lacie two, and junior guard Anna Wilson one.

Game stresses Human Trafficking Awareness

The afternoon’s theme was Human Trafficking Awareness, spearheaded by Alanna and announcer Betty Ann Hagenau, founder of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

During the halftime, Alanna explained in a video how she had become interested in the issue. She said was taking a fall class about it when Betty Ann was a guest speaker one day. The two spoke and decided to do more.

Dancers from Love Never Fails entertain during halftime.
Halftime entertainment featured the Love Never Fails Dancers from Stop Human Trafficking. Several of the seven women were survivors of human trafficking.

During a break in the third quarter, Betty Ann interviewed Jessie Brunner of Stanford’s Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

Senior guard Marta Sniezek, junior forward Nadia Fingall and sophomore forward Maya Dodson were still out with injuries. Unlike recent past games, Maya, who had a foot injury, wasn’t wearing a boot.

WSU’s only lead came with a basket early in the first quarter. Lacie and DiJonai responded with successive three’s, and Stanford never trailed thereafter.

Next up is a trip to the mountains with Colorado at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 and Utah at 11 a.m. Jan. 27, followed by Cal at Cal at 8 p.m. Jan. 31 and Cal at Stanford at 4 p.m. Feb. 2.

Photos by John Lozano/Stanford Athletics

January 19, 2019

Easy win over Washington

Players on the bench help cheer their teammates to victory.

Playing at home, the Stanford women had their way against Washington and won 91-54 on
on Jan. 18.

All 11 available players joined the action for at least six minutes, and no one played more than 29 minutes.

Alanna goes for two.
Even so, senior forward Alanna Smith poured in 27 points and had 13 rebounds to go with three blocks. Sophomore guard Kiana Williams wasn’t far behind with 22 points and four steals.

Junior guard DiJonai Carrington had 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Junior guard Anna Wilson (five points) also had five assists to add to the team’s total of 18.

By way of contrast, the Huskies had only eight assists and, hounded by smothering defense, no one in double figures. They snagged only 32 rebounds compared with the Cardinal’s 45.

After Kiana’s three, team surges ahead

Stanford led from start to finish as Kiana scored from beyond the arc almost immediately. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Stanford had made 13 three’s, led by Kiana’s four. Alanna had three.

Freshman forward Lacie Hull had two, as did little-used junior guard Mikaela Brewer in just six minutes. Anna and freshman forward Lexie Hull had one each.

Washington had 22 turnovers compared with Stanford’s 13, several of which seemed to come from passes that went astray.

Kiana accounted for two of Washington’s turnovers in a row as she sped down the court for easy layups.

The starting lineup was familiar with Alanna, DiJonai, Lacie, Kiana and sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome.

Still missing in action were senior guard Marta Sniezek, who hasn’t played at all because of a hand injury; junior forward Nadia Fingall, who has a season-ending torn ACL; and sophomore forward Maya Dodson, who has a foot injury. She’s expected to return, but there’s been no specific timetable. Unlike past games, she was walking without a boot.

The crowd of 2,535 was bolstered by the full student contingent of band, Tree, Dollies and cheerleaders.

Everything started on the right note when the Fisher Middle School choir of Los Gatos sang a harmonious national anthem.

Girls wearing the colorful headbands join the team at attention during the national anthem.
Bright new source of red for fans

Then there was a new note to the starters’ introduction. Stanford Federal Credit Union, the game’s sponsor, had set up a mobile branch outside the southwest entrance and tables in the concourse to hand out unique souvenirs. They were black plastic headbands to which were attached long red ribbons and red translucent tubes that flashed.

They were a big hit with fans, some of whom wore them around their necks to drape down their chests like flashing bibs.

When the lights dimmed for the starters’ introduction, announcer Betty Ann Hagenau asked fans to make sure their headbands were turned on. The result was an awe-inspiring sea of blinking red throughout Maples.

Now with a 15-1 overall record and an unbeaten record at home, the team hopes to continue that streak when Washington State visits at noon Jan. 20. 

If the Cardinal prevail, head coach Tara VanDerveer will have notched 900 wins on the Farm. Her overall win total is more than 1,000.

The team heads for the mountains to play Colorado at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 and Utah at 11 a.m. Jan. 27.

Photos by Karen Hickey/Stanford Athletics

January 8, 2019

Short-handed Stanford still handles UCLA

Alyssa, DiJonai, Alanna and Kiana celebrate during the game.

No Nadia, no Maya, no Marta, no Alexa. No problem, right? Wrong.

The Stanford women’s basketball team managed to defeat visiting UCLA 86-80 on Jan. 6, but the outcome wasn’t decided until the last minute or so.

Almost all of the credit goes to the starting five: senior forward Alanna Smith, sophomore forward Alyssa Jerome, freshman forward Lacie Hull, junior guard DiJonai Carrington and sophomore guard Kiana Williams.

Playing all or the majority of the game, they were the only Cardinal players to score. Four players came off the bench, but made minimal contributions.

Junior guard Mikaela Brewer high-fives Marta (left), Nadia and Maya after a teammate's trey.
Cardinal ranks were thinned because junior forward Nadia Fingall is out for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL suffered in the USC game two days earlier. She was wearing a brace on her left leg.

Sophomore forward Maya Dodson was wearing a boot on her left foot because of an injury. She’s expected back, but there’s no timetable.

Senior guard Marta Sniezek has been out all season because of a hand injury. Senior guard Alexa Romano “is not playing on our team due to personal reasons,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said after the game. She is no longer listed on the roster posted by Stanford Athletics.

Lexie drives against a Bruin in her welcome return.
Lexie returns to action

On the other hand, freshman forward Lexie Hull saw her first action after missing nine games with a foot injury. The medical staff allowed her to play a maximum 10 minutes, Tara said. She was in for eight minutes and had three rebounds.

With 30 points, DiJonai was the game’s high scorer. She came close to a double-double with nine rebounds.

Alanna did have a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Kiana also had a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists.

With winter quarter classes starting Jan. 7, the team got extra student support from the band, Tree and cheerleaders. The crowd totaled 3,231 and became quite loud in its support, too.

The first half saw the Cardinal lagging 23-24 after the first quarter and 38-45 after the second.

Second half better than first

The second half was a different story with the Farm team leading 64-57 after the third quarter and then winning 86-80.

Success beyond the arc helped with a total of 12 three’s. Alanna, DiJonai and Kiana each had three, Alyssa two and Lacie one. Free-throw shooting also was a big factor. The team made 14 of 17, or 82.4 percent.

UCLA, not necessarily known as a three-point machine, made 11 treys, but was only seven of 15, or 46.7 percent, at the free-throw line. The Bruins had 21 fouls, the Cardinal 10.
Stanford also excelled in assists, 21-10, and in steals, 10-six.

The Bruins edged the Cardinal in rebounds, 38-37, and had fewer turnovers than the Cardinal, 13-15.

UCLA’s largest lead was 12 points, Stanford’s 11. The score was tied three times, and the lead changed seven times.

Team, fans see tribute to two backers

At the Behind the Bench after the game, the entire team joined fans in watching video tributes to two beloved members of the Stanford family. Marian Cortesi, 88, a longtime fan, managed the Fast Break Club website for 12 years before her death from cancer Dec. 2.

DeeDee Zawaydeh-Johnson was the women’s basketball administrative assistant 30 years and welcomed fans to the annual spring banquet. She died of cancer at age 69 in May.

Tara then excused most of the team and said, “UCLA has a terrific team. … It was an awesome win for our team.”

Coach praises players

She praised Alyssa for replacing Nadia in the starting lineup and making some crucial three’s.

“I like it when Di scores 30,” she said, and praised Alanna for coming on strong in the second half after a less than stellar first half. “She kept playing hard,” Tara said.

“We knew we had to play hard,” Alanna said, noting the team’s improved defense.

“We played with such heavy hearts knowing that Nadia would be out,” DiJonai said.

Tara acknowledged several family members of players at the game as well as highly regarded recruit Haley Jones, who will be with the team next season. “We’re very excited about the incoming freshmen,” Tara said.

The 12-1 team takes to the road to face Arizona State at 6 p.m. PST Jan. 11 and Arizona at 11 a.m. PST Jan. 13.

Then it’s back home to host the Washington schools the following weekend. Pac 12 Networks will televise all four games.

Photos by Don Feria/ISIPhotos.com

January 5, 2019

Team opens conference season with victory

Kiana shoots over a USC player on her way to a 22-point game.
USC didn’t make things easy when it visited the Stanford women’s basketball team Jan. 4, but the home team prevailed at the final buzzer, 72-64, to begin Pac 12 play.

Thus AP’s No. 6-ranked Stanford extended its record to 11-1 while dropping USC to 10-3.

Aside from the ups and downs in this seesaw battle, the game marked player gains and losses for Stanford. On the plus side, both freshman forward Lexie Hull and junior guard Anna Wilson were back in uniform after missing some games. Anna played for five minutes, but her stat line was empty.

On the minus side, sophomore forward Maya Dodson was in street clothes for the first time this season because of a foot problem. Senior guard Marta Sniezek remained out of action with the thumb injury that has kept her out all season.

Moreover, junior forward Nadia Fingall had to retire to the locker room after reportedly hyperextending a knee early in the third quarter. She returned to applause several minutes later. She got back into action in the fourth quarter only to apparently hurt a knee in a collision with a USC player.

That’s when she went back to the locker room for good. She had played a total of 18 minutes, scoring two points, snaring four rebounds, dishing out two assists and blocking one shot.

Changes in score lead to nail-biting

In a reflection of the game’s inducement of nail-biting, the lead changed 13 times and the score was tied seven times. Stanford trailed by two points after both the first and second quarters but finished the third with a seven-point lead before polishing things off with the eight-point victory.

Playing all 40 minutes, sophomore guard Kiana Williams poured in a game-leading 22 points.

Alanna fights her way through the USC defense.
Senior forward Alanna Smith contributed 19 points (to go with 11 rebounds) in 39 minutes. Junior guard DiJonai Carrington also was in double figures with 14.

Favoring Stanford were free throws, 10 vs. 7, and three’s, 8-5, along with rebounds, 46-40; blocks, 7-5; and assists, 12-10. It had fewer fouls, 11-18. On the other hand, it had more turnovers, 15-13, and fewer steals, 3-8.

Kiana had four three’s, Alanna three and freshman forward Lacie Hull one.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer stuck with the same starters as in previous games with Alanna, Nadia, Lacie, DiJonai and Kiana.

Each team used only nine players.

Crowd loud in support of home team

Even though the usual student contingents like the band, Tree, Dollies and cheerleaders were still on the holiday break, the game drew 2,557 fans. The pro-Stanford crowd was loud in supporting the team and sometimes vocal in disagreeing with the officials in this very physical game.

Among the fans were girls from Torch Basketball Academy, who scrimmaged at halftime. Their families were there, too, including my next-door neighbors.

Stanford alum Melanie Murphy, ’11, is Torch’s founder and CEO. She was there coaching one red squad.

Ros returns to her alma mater to annouce the game.
Another alum on hand was Mel’s teammate and fellow New Yorker, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, ’10. Ros was an announcer for the Pac 12 Network’s TV coverage.

UCLA, Arizona teams are next

The Cardinal will return to Maples at 1 p.m. Jan. 6, when UCLA comes calling after knocking off Cal 84-79 in overtime on Jan. 4. The game will be covered by Pac 12 TV.

A Behind the Bench will follow the game.

The team is off to the desert the following weekend to face Arizona State at 6 p.m. PST Jan. 11 and Arizona at 11 a.m. PST Jan. 13. Pac 12 TV will show both.

Photos by John P. Lozano, isiphotos.com