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