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