April 24, 2022

A look back at a memorable year: Part 3 of 3

 

Fran dunks during the win over Montana State. (Stanford Athletics)


After a perfect Pac-12 regular season, the Stanford women’s basketball team garnered more T-shirts, hats and a trophy at the conference tournament in Las Vegas.

In addition, junior guard Haley Jones was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. She, sixth-year guard Anna Wilson and sophomore forward Cameron Brink were named to the all-tournament team.

During its march through the tournament, Stanford defeated Oregon State 57-44 on March 3, Colorado 71-45 on March 4 and Utah 73-48 on March 6.

Anna fired the opening salvos with two 3’s in the Oregon State game. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the team had only three turnovers while recording 14 assists.

After scoring only two points in the first half, Haley asserted herself in the second to finish with a team-leading 20 points and 14 rebounds. Anna and Cameron were in double figures, too.

The players went into the game with heavy hearts after the suicide by women’s soccer goalie, Katie Meyers, a senior, in her dorm room on March 1. In her honor, the players wore soccer T-shirts for warmups and put her initials on athletic tape around their wrists for this game and all the others.

Playing Colorado on March 4, the team won 71-45 after a tight first quarter that ended with Stanford up 11-10.

It was a physical game with 16 fouls by each team. One pair of fouls followed a heated confrontation between Cameron and Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed when they were vying for a rebound under the Colorado basket. They were separated by the referees, and each was assessed a foul, so no free throws.

Once again, Haley led the team with 17 points, while Cameron and Anna were in double figures, too.

Win over Colorado is Tara’s 1,000th at Stanford

This game marked head coach Tara VanDerveer’s 1,000th victory at Stanford.

No. 1,001 came March 6 with the 73-48 championship win over Utah. It was the team’s 15th tournament championship with Tara at the helm.

Even though Stanford was ahead, the third quarter produced some worries when senior guard Lexie Hull had to retreat to the bench with a bloody nose and Haley rolled her ankle a few minutes later. Both returned to action, though.

Haley led the team with 19 points, followed by Cameron with 16 and Lexie with 15.

Besides tournament honors, the team accrued season honors. They were Haley, player of the year; Cameron, defensive player of the year; Cameron, Lexie and Haley, all Pac-12 team; Cameron, Lexie and Anna, all-defensive team; and freshman forward Kiki Iriafen, all-freshman team honorable mention.

On top of that, Tara was named the John R. Wooden Pac-12 coach of the year for the 17th time.

During the two weeks between this tournament and the NCAA tournament, winter quarter classes ended March 11 and finals were March 14-18.

No. 1 seed Stanford hosts first two NCAA rounds

As expected Stanford was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and hosted the first two rounds.

The team and fans, including some 100 or so who were at Maples, learned the seeding during a practice March 13.

Playing those first two NCAA games at home, Stanford defeated 16-seed Montana State 78-37 on March 18 and eight-seed Kansas 91-65 on March 20.

The talk of the Montana State game was neither the lopsided final score nor the visitor’s scoreless first quarter, which ended 20-0.

Fran’s dunk highlights Montana State game

No, it was junior forward Fran Belibi’s dunk that followed a block in the second quarter. The crowd and bench went wild, roaring their approval and giving her a prolonged standing ovation as play continued.

She finished the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.

Also coming off the bench, junior guard Hannah Jump posted a team-leading 15 points, all from five of the team’s nine 3’s.

Two days later, on March 20, Kansas made a game of it in the first two quarters, which both ended with Stanford up by only two points.

Lexie and her teammates would have nothing more of that in the second half, which saw Stanford win by 26 points, 91-65.

Lexie goes for two of her 36 points against Kansas. (Tony Avelar/AP)


In 36 minutes, Lexie posted a career-high 36 points plus six rebounds, three assists and, as evidence of her defensive intensity, six of the team’s 11 steals.

With yet another double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds, Cameron was the only other Cardinal in double figures. After one of her scores, someone in the student section waved a handmade sign, “Hot damn. We love Cam.”

Two more wins in the Hulls’ hometown

Advancing to the Sweet 16 in Spokane, the hometown of Lexie and senior guard Lacie Hull, Stanford defeated Maryland 72-66 on March 25.

The game had appeared headed for a blowout with Stanford enjoying a 26-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter. That big lead was helped by Stanford’s shooting a sizzling 71.4 percent in the first quarter while holding Maryland to 18.8 percent.

In the final quarter, though, Stanford shot 20 percent while Maryland shot 43.5 percent, but not enough to win.

Haley gave her team a good start by nailing two 3’s in the first three minutes. She finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Lexie led the team with 19 points. Cameron had 15 and five of the team’s 10 blocks.

Cameron’s production was limited with foul trouble (she fouled out in the fourth quarter) and with a shot to the ribs in the second quarter that briefly sent her to the locker room. She played only 19 minutes.

Defeating Texas 59-50 on March 27 to advance to the Final Four, Stanford got revenge for one of its only three season losses, 61-56 on Nov. 14.

Played in front of more than 7,700 people, that Elite Eight game was tight. The lead changed six times and the score was tied six times, including 14-14 after the first quarter. Stanford outscored Texas in the next three quarters.

Lexie led the team with 20 points, followed by Haley with 18 points and 12 rebounds for another double-double. Cameron had 10 points and six of the team’s 11 blocks.

In a game that saw 24 fouls by Texas and 22 by Stanford, free throws made a big difference. The Cardinal made 18, the Longhorns 11, a seven-point difference and close to the five-point margin of victory.

In honor of the Hulls playing in their hometown, Tara asked them to complete the post-game ritual of cutting down the nets.

Tara joins the team in a line dance after the Texas game in Spokane. (Young Kwok/AP)


The team also celebrated with the Electric Slide line dance. According to AP, Tara had “proposed a group dance if the team advanced to the Final Four.”

Haley, fifth-year guard Jordan Hamilton and Kiki gave her a private lesson before the whole team practiced after a film session.

Also after the game, Haley was named the regional’s most outstanding player. She, Cameron and Lexie were named to the all-tournament team.

This win extended Stanford’s win streak to 24 games, longest in the country. It ended Texas’ second-longest streak at 14.

UConn ends Stanford’s 24-game winning streak

Unfortunately, Stanford’s win streak didn’t extend into the Final Four in Minneapolis.

It ended with a 63-58 loss to UConn in the semifinal game April 1.

Played in front of more than 18,000 people, the game was tight with six lead changes, two ties and only three brief leads for Stanford.

It got off to a slow start with UConn leading 12-9 after the first quarter.

Haley had 20 points plus 11 rebounds. Cameron was the only other Cardinal in double figures.

Lexie, who usually scores in double digits, had only four points, perhaps because she was feeling the effects of a bloody nose that briefly sent her to the bench.

Trying for a comeback in the final few minutes, Stanford players deliberately fouled in hopes that the Huskies would miss their free throws and Stanford could snare the ball.

That strategy didn’t work. For the game, UConn made 16 of 20 free throws while Stanford made eight of 11.

Three players honored at season’s end

Despite the loss, three players were honored.

Lexie won the Senior CLASS Award as the most outstanding student athletie in Division 1 women's basketball. She was the third Cardinal to do so, after Candice Wiggins, '08, and Nneka Ogwumike, '12. 

Lexie also won the Elite 90 award for highest grade point average at the Final Four. She has a 3.88 GPA and will graduate with a master's degree in management science and engineering.

On top of that, Stanford was the only school with two WBCA All-Americans: Cameron and Haley. Stanford previously had two All-Amercians in the same year with Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike in 2012. Haley was named to the all-tournament team. 

Tara and others had pledged to donate $10 to Ukrainian relief for every three-pointer made in every game throughout the tournament. They raised more than $300,000.

The team returned to campus April 2 to be greeted by several dozen fans waving red pompons.

Five fans held up large photos of the five graduating players: Anna, Jordan, fifth-year forward Alyssa Jerome, Lexie and Lacie.

Players saluted at annual banquet

Fans said their final farewell to the team in person at the annual banquet April 10. The previous two events took place on Zoom.

During the program Tara thanked everyone who had helped, from the administration through the team managers as well as sponsors.

She also introduced and praised each player, class by class, and enumerated their academic and athletic honors. After the seniors were introduced, each one had chance to speak and express her gratitude.

Shortly after the banquet, it was learned that redshirt junior guard Jenna Brown had entered the transfer portal as a graduate senior transfer and that sophomore guard Jana Van Gytenbeek also had entered the transfer portal.

In the meantime, the Indiana Fever drafted Lexie as the No. 6 pick overall in the WNBA draft on April 11. She flew to Indianapolis to join her new team on April 13.

As for next season, the team is expecting three promising freshmen and returning 70 percent of its scoring, Tara said.

The schedule will include a Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii and home games against Gonzaga, Tennessee and South Carolina, she said.

April 21, 2022

A look back at a memorable year: Part 2 of 3

 

Lexie scored a career-high 33 points against Oregon at home Jan. 7. (John Hefti/AP)


Traveling north to begin its perfect Pac-12 season, the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated Washington State 82-44 on Jan. 2 despite having only 10 players available.

The team had been scheduled to open the season at Washington on Dec. 31, but that game was postponed because of COVID issues there.

Missing for the WSU game were sophomore forward Cameron Brink, fifth-year forward Alyssa Jerome, junior forward Ashten Prechtel, sophomore guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu and freshman guard Brooke Demetre. Redshirt junior guard Jenna Brown and freshman guard Jzaniya Harriel didn’t make the trip.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer said five were out for COVID protocols and another was in a car accident but was OK.

Junior guard Haley Jones to secure the victory against a team that has never beaten the Cardinal by scoring 24 points and snaring 16 rebounds in 34 minutes.

Playing just 14 minutes, freshman forward Kiki Iriafen had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Afterward, Haley was named Pac-12 Player of the Week and Kiki was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week.

Finally back home with a nearly full contingent, the team defeated Oregon 80-68 on Jan. 7 and Gonzaga 66-50 in a nonconference rematch on Jan. 9.

Gonzaga was a last-minute fill-in for Oregon State, which had to cancel because of COVID issues there.

Lexie logs 33 points against Oregon

In the Oregon game, the undoubted highlight was the game-high and career-high 33 points by senior guard Lexie Hull, who seemed almost unstoppable.

Because of COVID issues imposed by Stanford, attendance at both games was limited to players’ families and friends.

Haley led with way against Gonzaga with 21 points.

Hitting the road again, Stanford defeated Colorado, which had been the only undefeated Division 1 team, 60-52 on Jan. 14 and Utah 83-73 on Jan. 16.

In the Colorado game, Stanford trailed 28-24 at the half after committing 15 turnovers, but righted the ship in the second half.

The Utah game was a seesaw affair with the lead shifting six times.

Leading by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, Utah had a 37-30 lead at the half. Stanford had 10 turnovers during that half, but only two in the second half while outscoring the Utes.

Cameron shoots in front of a Utah defender. (Rick Bowmer/AP)


Cameron had another double-double, 24 points and 11 rebounds, leading to Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for her.

Stanford beats Cal at home; game at Cal postponed

Stanford rolled over the visiting Cal team 97-74 on Jan. 21, but its Jan. 23 trip across the bay for a rematch was postponed because of COVID issues at Cal.

Stanford’s 97 points were the most it had scored so far, but Cal’s 74 turned out to the most it allowed all season.

Haley was Stanford’s do-it-all player with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Hannah Jump was next with 21, followed by junior forward Fran Belibi with her season-high 20 and Cameron with 12.

Tara used 14 players. Sixth-year guard Anna Wilson was in uniform but didn’t play. Tara said she was slightly under the weather. Fifth-year guard Jordan Hamilton filled in for her and had a team-high seven assists.

Fans allowed back in Maples after six weeks

Allowed in Maples for the first time since the UC Davis game on Dec. 15, fans saw the team defeat Arizona State 78-50 on Jan. 28 and Arizona 75-69 on Jan. 30.

Stanford was missing Hannah and freshman guard Elena Bosgana for unexplained reasons in the ASU game.

Hannah had been a starter in recent games, so Anna stepped in for her.

Coming into the game later, sophomore guard Jana Van Gytenbeek did her best Hannah imitation with three 3’s for nine points.

Logging 12 points each were Fran, Kiki and Haley, who had 10 rebounds for a double-double.

The Arizona game was a rematch of the national championship game that Stanford won 54-53 in April.

It wasn’t that close this time with Stanford winning 75-69 after leading most of the way.

Cameron had an epic game with 25 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. As a result of her performance over the weekend, she was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the third time.

Jana continued her Hannah imitation with a career-best 18 points on six 3’s.

This Tara bobblehead honors the 2021 national championship. (Stanford Athletics) 


Fans get Tara bobblehead

The first 3,000 fans at Maples received a Tara bobblehead showing her waving in the parade that followed the national champions’ return to campus in April.

A Behind the Bench followed as associate head coach Kate Paye introduced three of the freshmen: Kiki, Jzaniya and Brooke. Tara later said that the other freshman, Elena, was expected for the next game, as was Hannah.

Making its annual trek south, the team returned home with two more wins: 76-48 over UCLA on Feb. 3 and 83-57 over USC on Feb. 6.

The UCLA win came without two of the team’s top scorers, Haley and Hannah, along with Agnes because of COVID protocols.

Hannah and Elena were in uniform but didn’t play because they hadn’t had two practices as required by Stanford.

Fran replaced Haley in the starting lineup and went on to lead the team with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Also recording a double-double was Lexie with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Haley and Agnes were still out.

Stanford led the entire way as Cameron scored 26 points and snared 14 rebounds.

After her weekend performance, she was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second straight week and the fourth time to date.

Three home wins in six days

Continuing its winning ways at home, the team beat Oregon State 82-59 on Feb. 9, Utah 91-64 on Feb. 11 and Colorado 63-46 on Feb. 13.

The Oregon State game marked the return of Haley, Hannah and Agnes. On the other hand, Jana was out because of COVID protocols.

That game also was noteworthy for balanced scoring with five players in double figures: Hannah, Fran, Cameron, Lexie and Kiki. Moreover, the team had only six turnovers while OSU had 17.

In defeating Utah two days later, the team unleashed another balanced attack with six players in double figures: Lexie, Haley, Anna, Cameron, senior guard Lacie Hull and Fran.

Jana was still out for that game and Colorado.

The Colorado game on Feb. 13 was a rough-and-tumble affair with Stanford trailing 30-29 at the half.

Things seesawed in the third quarter until Stanford pulled ahead to stay with just under four minutes left, ending that period 43-35, thus holding Colorado to only five points.

Four players were in double figures: Lexie, Cameron (plus 11 rebounds), Anna and Haley.

25th conference championship cinched at OSU

A two-game road trip resulted in two more wins along with a new trophy.

With an 87-63 victory over Oregon State on Feb. 18, the team clinched its 25th conference championship and received the trophy.

It went on to top Oregon 66-62 on Feb. 20.

Lexie led the scoring in the OSU game with 21 points, followed by Hannah and Haley, who also had 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Fran had 10 rebounds plus seven points.

Foul trouble kept Cameron on the bench for all but seven minutes, giving her time for only five points.

With the Oregon arena filled with 9,000 people, Stanford’s win was a come-from-behind nail-biter as the Cardinal trailed for most of the game, sometimes by as many as 11 points. It led for only 84 seconds, but clinched the 66-62 win in the final seconds.

Despite falling, Haley made a basket and got a free throw against Oregon. (Thomas Boyd/AP)


It took some late heroics by Haley. For example, in a highlight play, she made a basket while falling and added a free throw to put her team up 63-60. She wound up with 18 points.

Cameron fouled out in the fourth quarter after playing only 19 minutes and adding just eight points.

Conference season ends perfectly

Going home, the team capped off its eighth perfect Pac-12 season and its 25th conference championship by defeating Washington State 61-54 on Feb. 24 and Washington 63-56 on Feb. 26, thus clinching the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Lexie was in street clothes for the Washington game. It was reported she had an injury. Hannah replaced her as a starter.

Despite accruing four fouls, Cameron led the team with 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Haley also had a double-double.

Played before the season’s largest home crowd, 3,777, the Washington game began well enough with Lexie back in the starting lineup and Cameron opening the scoring with a three-pointer.

Washington was ahead in the first two quarters, but Lexie helped in the third quarter by scoring the team’s first seven points leading to a 47-46 edge going into the fourth quarter.

With just over six minutes to go in the game, Washington was up 53-49. It led by a point, 56-55, until the final 42 seconds.

That’s when Anna helped to save the day. After stealing the ball, she made one basket and three free throws, putting her team up 60-56.

Cameron helped to cement the win with two defensive rebounds and a free throw, while Haley topped it off with two more free throws, making the final score 63-56.

Cameron finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds plus five of the team’s six blocks, all with only one foul. Lexie had 15 points.

Thus the team capped off its perfect Pac-12 season and received championship hats, T-shirts and a banner. It also gave Tara the 1,150th win of her career.

Coming next: Part 3, the tournaments

 

April 19, 2022

A look back at a memorable year: Part 1 of 3

 

The team won three trophies. This first one came after the Feb. 18 win at Oregon State,
when it clinched the Pac-12 season championship. 
Then came the Pac-12 tournament and the Spokane regional.


The Stanford women’s basketball team finished its 2021-22 season with an admirable 32-4 overall record, a perfect Pac-12 record, the Pac-12 tournament championship and the NCAA Spokane regional championship before a tight NCAA semifinal loss to UConn.

Several players and head coach Tara VanDerveer accrued honors throughout the season.

COVID issues with opposing teams played havoc with the schedule, and several Cardinal players missed games while in the COVID protocol.

On the other hand, fans could attend nearly all of the games after the 2019-20 tournaments were  cancelled and the 2020-21 season was played in empty venues.

Open practice provides first look

Season ticket holders got their first look at the team during an open practice and scrimmage Oct. 31.

All 17 players were in uniform, but only 16 took part in the practice drills and 14 in the scrimmage. Redshirt junior guard Jenna Brown and freshman guard Jzaniya Harriel, both of whom saw no action then and the rest of the season, were sidelined, as was sixth-year guard Anna Wilson.

Afterward Tara said how great it was to have fans back in person after they were bared last season because of COVID restrictions.

Fans had more reason to be glad when the team breezed to a 105-35 exhibition win over Clarke on Nov. 6.

The starting lineup featured Anna, junior guard Haley Jones, senior guard Lexie Hull, sophomore forward Cameron Brink and junior forward Fran Belibi.

This game had fans not only toting the usual clear plastic bags but also showing ID and proof of COVID vaccination at the door, a requirement that continued all season.

Season opens with rout of Morgan State, loss to Texas

The regular season started on a winning note at home Nov. 11 with a 91-36 victory over Morgan Sate from Baltimore, giving all 15 available players a chance on the court.

Starters this time were Lexie, Cameron, junior guard Hannah Jump, Anna and Haley.

The team’s first loss came Nov. 14 against Texas at home, 56-61. The starting lineup featured Lexie, senior guard Lacie Hull, Anna, Cameron and Haley.

Twenty turnovers and 35.4 percent shooting played a big part in the loss.

Before the game, the team's 2021 national championship trophy was displayed in the west concourse where fans could pose for selfies. The first 1,000 fans to arrive received championship T-shirts.

After the game, the trophy was moved to center court, where it was joined by the Naismith Trophy honoring Tara as women’s coach of the year.

This is the 2001 national championship ring.


The 12 returning players received their championship rings. Kiana Williams, ’21, who graduated, greeted the crowd via video from Australia where she was playing professionally with Alanna Smith, ’19.

Staying home and ranking No. 7 in the AP poll, the team righted the ship by defeating Portland 77-55 on Nov. 16.

Cameron had 21 points, followed by Haley, who had a triple-double with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the team’s first triple-double since Nicole Powell, ’04, in 2002.

Seven-day trip takes team from Spokane to Nassau

Next came a seven-day road trip that began in Spokane, where the team defeated Gonzaga 66-62 on Nov. 21 even though Haley was unavailable because of what Tara said was an injury.

Playing in a round-robin tournament in Nassau, The Bahamas, the team celebrated Thanksgiving by squeaking past No. 4 Indiana 69-66 on Nov. 25.

The next day No. 18 South Florida topped Stanford 57-54.

Stanford got back on the winning track Nov. 27 by routing No. 2 Maryland 86-67 for its largest margin of victory over a top two team. However, Maryland had only seven available players.

On Stanford's side, junior forward Ashten Prechtel didn’t suit up because she was ill. Cameron didn’t start after having stomach problems, but she got in and added eight points in nine minutes. On Nov. 29 she was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Starting in her place, Hannah topped everyone with 21 points, all from 3’s.

The 3-1 road record elevated Stanford to No. 4 in the Nov. 29 AP poll.

Returning from a break for finals, the team swung back into action with victories of 91-62 over Pacific on Dec. 12 and 68-42 over UC Davis on Dec. 15.

Cameron drives to the basket on her way to 25 points against Pacific.


In the Pacific game, Cameron was one of four Cardinal players in double figures with a what was then a career-high 25 points plus 11 rebounds.

All 14 available players got into the game. Sophomore guard Jana Van Gytenbeek wasn’t there.

Davis game significant for Tara

The Davis game on Dec. 15 held special significance for Tara. It was exactly one year earlier that she became the all-time winningest women’s basketball coach, surpassing the late Pat Summitt of Tennessee.

“Last year was a magical year,” she said, referring to the team’s national championship despite the difficulties it faced. “I believe we still have the magic.”

Greeted by the players at the Davis game, Tara wears the jacket the team gave her Dec. 15, 2020,
when she surpassed the late Pat Summitt's winning record.



Hannah led the team with 17 points. Also in double figures were Cameron with a double-double and Lacie.

Jana was back but wasn’t in uniform.

Taking to the road before the Christmas break, Stanford beat Tennessee 74-63 on Dec. 18 and lost to South Carolina 65-61 on Dec. 21.

After the Tennessee game, Haley was named Pac-12 Player of the Week by virtue of logging 18 points and 19 rebounds. Fran was unavailable because she was in the concussion protocol.

However, she did play against South Carolina and had 12 points. Lexie had 17.

Despite the loss to No. 1 South Carolina, Stanford retained what was then its No. 2 AP ranking, where it remained for the rest of the season.

Photos by Stanford Athletics

Next: Part 2, the Pac-12 season

April 11, 2022

Team honored at season-ending banquet

 

The dressed up team gathers for one last group photo. (Stanford Athletics)

Fans of Stanford women’s basketball got one last chance to honor the team at the annual spring banquet Apri110 at the Arrillaga Alumni Center.

However, it was the first time in two years that it took place in person rather than on Zoom. As head coach Tara VanDerveer pointed out, it was the first in-person banquet for the juniors.

Framed jerseys of the six seniors were displayed at the front of the room as Tara went to each of the more than 20 tables to thank people for coming.

After everyone had been to the buffet tables, Tara served as emcee for the program.

It included a multitude of thanks to an array of people starting with the administration, continuing through all of the staff people who comprise the team behind the team, and ending with the coaches. Sponsors also were thanked.

Players tower over almost everyone

As players and fans mingled before taking their seats, I was struck by one thought, “These players stand out in the crowd.” Most of them are more than 6 feet tall and most were wearing heels. When I stood next to freshman forward Kiki Iriafen, the top of my head was just barely above her elbow.

Tara noted that, thanks to people who joined her in pledging $10 or some other amount for the three-pointers made by all teams in the recent NCAA tournament, more than $300,000 was raised for Ukrainian relief .

Now “we have a lot to celebrate,” Tara said as she listed the qualities in this team’s DNA.

First, it’s a team of winners, amassing the best winning percentage in more than 20 years, going undefeated in the Pac-12 season for the eighth time and winning the Pac-12 tournament for the 15th time. It defeated seven ranked teams.

It’s also a team of streakers with 24 wins in a row, its 22nd Elite Eight and other accomplishments.

It’s a team of defense that allowed no opponent to score more than 74 points and blocked 222 shots.

Resilience is also part of its DNA as some games had to be played in empty arenas and others with missing players because of COVID protocols.

Players earn academic, athletic honors

In introducing and praising each player, Tara noted that nearly all of them earned academic in addition to athletic honors.

She started with the freshmen. Looking over the dressed-up foursome, she said, “Everyone up here could be a model.”

Guard Jzaniya Harriel, who’s red-shirting this season, served on the scout team in practices.

Guard Elena Bosgana had the challenge of guarding some of the team’s top players while amassing a 3.6 GPA. She will play for her native Greece in international competition this summer.

In making the transition from high school to college play, guard Brooke Demetre paid attention to detail, Tara said.

Kiki earned numerous defensive honors.

Tara also talked about how so many players have worked hard to improve between their freshman and sophomore seasons and cited Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, as someone who did just that. Now she’s a coaching intern with the team.

The three American freshmen will play in a 3-on-3 tournament this summer, Tara said.

Sophomores merit praise

Turning to the sophomores, Tara started with guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu, whom she wants to become a member of what she calls the Lockdown Club: Ros Gold-Onwude, ’10; Susan Borchardt, ’05; associate head coach Kate Paye, ’95; and sixth-year guard Anna Wilson, all terrific defensive players.

Tara cited the six 3’s that guard Jana Van Gytenbeek, filling in for junior guard Hannah Jump,  scored against Arizona as an example of the team’s “next woman mentality.”

Forward Cameron Brink led the team in scores, rebounds, double-doubles and blocks with 91. “This is rarefied basketball air,” Tara said.

Tara calls juniors the Final Four

Turning to the juniors, Tara said they call themselves the Funky Four, but she calls them the Final Four.

Forward Fran Belibi., a humanities major, had the team’s best scoring average, 59 percent, and is known for dunking.

Forward Ashten Prechtel, majoring in management science and engineering, is valuable on defense and got the steal that sealed the lead over South Carolina in last year’s semi-final game.

Hannah, who made 83 3’s, was always one of the first to arrive and last to leave practice. She’s a psychology major.

Guard Haley Jones led the team in assists and had the team’s first triple-double since 2002. “The bigger the game, the bigger she plays,” Tara said, noting that she has accrued many honors. This communications major also is “a patient dance instructor,” she said, referring to the line dance that Tara and the team performed after defeating Texas in the Elite Eight.

Seniors express thanks, love

After Tara called the six seniors to the podium, each one had a chance to speak. They were unanimous in thanking the fans and coaches and expressing their love for their teammates.

Unfortunately, red shirt guard Jenna Brown, a political science major, missed two and half seasons with an injury and grueling recovery. “Jenna has entered the transfer portal as a graduate senior transfer,” Kate said in an April 11 email.

Guard Jordan Hamilton was the team’s first graduate transfer (from Northwestern), but easily made the transition to Stanford.

Fifth-year forward Alyssa Jerome, whom Tara dubbed Coach Jerome, is likely to become a real coach, Tara said. She’s earning a master’s degree in community health with a 4.0 GPA. She played the second most games in Stanford history.

The most games, 160, were played by Anna, who’s “a great example for our younger players.” She’s earning her master’s in art practice.

Tara then turned to the Hull twins, guards Lexie and Lacie, who were offered scholarships by then associate head coach Amy Tucker when they were high school sophomores.

In planning practices, Tara said, the motto is “don’t let them guard each other.” “They’re extremely competitive.”

Lexie had the most steals this year and won many honors. She’s a management science and engineering major who’ll graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

In the WNBA draft the day after the banquet, April 11, Lexie was drafted No. 6 overall by the Indiana Fever, joining another Stanford alum and former teammate, Alanna Smith, ’19.

Lacie is the only player who has played in every game her entire career. Tara praised her willingness to play point guard in some games this season. She’s graduating in June with an undergraduate degree in product design and a master’s in management engineering and science.

Video brings back memories

Then followed a video with highlights from throughout the season and by every player. It brought back happy memories.

Closing the program, Tara said the outlook for next season is bright with three promising freshmen coming in and 70 percent of the scoring returning, among other harbingers.

She also revealed that a Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii and home games against Gonzaga, Tennessee and South Carolina are on the schedule.

 

 

 

 

April 2, 2022

Fans welcome team after tough loss


 
Cameron looks for an opening against UConn defenders. (Stanford Athletics)


Returning to campus from the Final Four in Minneapolis with heavy hearts on April 2, Stanford women basketball players got a pleasant surprise: Several dozen fans waving red pompons were there to greet them as they got off their bus.

The fans were there on short notice. Stanford staffers who coordinated the event had told the coaches about it, but the players didn’t know.

Five fans waved large photos of the five graduating players: sixth-year guard Anna Wilson, fifth-year guard Jordan Hamilton, fifth-year forward Alyssa Jerome and senior guards Lexie Hull and Lacie Hull.

Tara thanks fans for their welcome

Head coach Tara VanDerveer thanked everyone for turning out. “We had a great season (with) a really special team. … We’re excited about what we accomplished,” and the returning players will work hard in the off-season.

What the team accomplished was a 32-4 overall record, an undefeated Pac-12 season and the Pac-12 championship.  No loss was by more than five points.  

It was hoping to win a second consecutive national championship, but UConn dashed those hopes by winning 63-58 in the semifinal game April 1.

Played in front of more than 18,000 people, the game was a nail-biter with six lead changes, two ties and only three brief leads for Stanford.

Low scoring to start

It got off to a slow start for both teams, who ended the quarter with UConn up 12-9.

Neither team shot particularly well overall: 34.8 percent for Stanford and 36.8 percent for UConn.

UConn’s defense was disruptive, limiting Stanford to just four 3’s: two by junior forward Ashten Prechtel and one each by Lacie and junior guard Hannah Jump.

On the other hand, UConn had 19 turnovers while Stanford had 11.

Haley, Cameron in double figures

Junior guard Haley Jones led the team in scoring with 20 points plus 11 rebounds. Sophomore forward Cameron Brink with 15 points was the only other Cardinal in double figures.

Lexie, who usually scores in double digits, had only four points, perhaps because she was feeling the effects of a bloody nose that sent her briefly to the bench to be tended to.

Trying for a comeback in the final few minutes, Stanford players deliberately fouled in hopes that the Huskies would miss at the free throw line and Stanford could snare the ball.

Unfortunately that strategy didn’t work. For the game overall, UConn made 16 of 20 free throws while Stanford made 8 of 13.

Lexie, Haley, Cameron earn honors

Despite the loss, Stanford had much to be proud of, including honors for three  players.

Lexie was named the Senior CLASS Award winner as the most outstanding student athlete in Division 1 women’s basketball. She was the third Cardinal to do so, after Candice Wiggins, ‘08, and Nneka Ogwumike, ’12.

Lexie also won the Elite 90 award for highest grade point average at the Final Four. She has a 3.88 GPA and will graduate with a master’s degree in management science and engineering.

On top of that, Stanford was the only school with two WBCA All-Americans: Cameron and Haley. Stanford previously had two All-Americans in the same year with Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike in 2012. Haley was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Fans will have a chance to say one final goodbye to this team at the spring banquet at 11 a.m. April 10 at the Arrillaga Alumni Center.  

 

March 29, 2022

From Sweet to Elite to sweet … revenge

 

Tara and the team celebrate with a line dance after the Texas win. (Young Kwak/AP)


Texas had dealt Stanford one of its only three losses this season, 61-56 on Nov. 14, taking away some of the joy that followed the home game when the Cardinal players received their 2021 national championship rings.

Stanford got revenge in the Elite Eight by defeating the Longhorns 59-50 in Spokane on March 27 to advance to the Final Four in Minneapolis April 1 and 3.

Maryland game gets tight

This victory followed a 72-66 Sweet 16 win over Maryland on March 25. That  game had appeared headed for a blowout with Stanford enjoying a 26-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter. 

The players huddle after the Maryland victory. (Stanford Athletics)


This big lead resulted from Stanford's shooting a sizzling 71.4 percent in the first quarter, while holding Maryland to 18.8 percent.

Next came a so-so 33.3 percent in the second quarter and a respectable 50 percent in the third. In the fourth, however, Stanford shot 20 percent while Maryland shot 43.5 percent.

Thus the game turned into a nail biter as Maryland outscored Stanford 30-13 in the last quarter, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the previous quarters, giving the Cardinal a victory.

Haley gets things started

Junior guard Haley Jones gave her team a good start by nailing two 3’s in the first three minutes. She finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior guard Lexie Hull led Stanford with 19 points, while sophomore forward Cameron Brink had 15points and five of the team’s 10 blocks.

Cameron’s production was limited not only by foul trouble (she fouled out in the fourth quarter, as did senior guard Lacie Hull) but also by a shot to the ribs in the second quarter, briefly sending her to the locker room. Therefore, she played only 19 minutes.

Stanford has advantage on the glass

Stanford out-rebounded Maryland 50-32 and had more assists, 15-8. On the other hand, the Cardinal committed 18 turnovers to the Terrapins’ seven. Free throws also were an issue, only 14 of 21.

Maryland also had lost to Stanford 86-68 on Nov. 27 in the Bahamas.

Besides Haley with two, others contributing to the team’s six 3’s were Cameron, Lexie, Lacie and junior guard Hannah Jump with one each.

Since Spokane is the Hulls’ hometown, their Stanford-backing family and friends comprised a sizable contingent of the crowd of 7,142.

Crowd gets bigger for Texas game

The crowd was even larger, 7,739, on March 27 when Stanford downed Texas 59-50.

In this tight contest, the lead changed six times, and the score was tied six times, including 14-14 after the first quarter. Stanford then outscored Texas in the next three quarters.

Haley shoots over a Texas player as Cameron awaits possible rebound. (Young Kwak/AP)


Lexie led the team with 20 points. Haley was close behind with 18 points and 12 rebounds for another double-double.  Cameron rounded out the trio of double-digit scorers with 10 points and six of the team’s 11 blocks.

Free throws make a difference

In a game that saw 24 fouls by Texas and 22 by Stanford, the free-throw line was a huge difference maker. The Cardinal made 18 free throws, the Longhorns 11, a seven-point difference and very close to the margin of victory.

Stingy defense by Texas limited Stanford to just three 3’s: two by Lexie and one by Cameron. It also led to 20 Cardinal turnovers while Texas had 10.

Although Lacie didn’t score, she played all 40 minutes and contributed five rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

The Hulls had the honor of cutting down the nets in Spokane. (Young Kwak/AP)


Hulls cut down the nets

In honor of the Hull twins’ playing in their hometown, head coach Tara VanDerveer asked them to complete the traditional post-game ritual of cutting down the nets.

The team also celebrated with the Electric Slide line dance. According to ESPN, Tara had “proposed a group dance if the team advanced to the Final Four.

“After an individual session with Jones as VanDerveer’s lead teacher among a group that also included  (fifth-year guard) Jordan Hamilton and (freshman forward) Kiki Iriafen, the whole team went through practice after watching film Saturday.”

Also after the game, Haley was named the regional’s most outstanding player. She, Cameron and Lexie were named to the all-tournament team.

Win streak rises to 24 games

This win extended Stanford’s win streak to 24 games, longest in the country. It ended Texas’ second-longest streak at 14 games.

Next up is a trip to Minneapolis for the Final Four to face a No. 2 seed, UConn, at 6:30 p.m. April 1. ESPN will air the game.

In the meantime, the players returned to campus for the start of spring quarter on March 28.