November 21, 2022

Overcome in overtime

A determined Haley drives to the basket through a pair of defenders.


After breezing to five easy wins to start the season, the No. 2 Stanford women’s basketball team faced its first big test and faltered. No. 1 South Carolina prevailed 76-71 in overtime Nov. 20 at Maples.

Stanford had the edge for most of the nationally televised game, leading 21-11 after the first quarter, 35-31 at the half and 54-44 after the third quarter before South Carolina tied the score 61-61 at the fourth quarter buzzer.

The overtime score seesawed until the final few seconds when, as the SF Chronicle put it the next day, “Errors cost Cardinal.”

With 10 seconds left and Stanford trailing 71-73, senior guard Haley Jones failed to inbound the ball in time, giving possession to South Carolina.

With the clock showing 3.1 seconds, Stanford secured the ball in front of the opponent’s bench. Sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen called a timeout to advance to ball to home court, but there were no timeouts left. Kiki was called for a technical, and South Carolina was able to score three more points to ice the win.

“This was a game that could have gone either way,” associate head coach Kate Paye said afterward during the season’s first Behind the Bench.

Large crowd backs home team

Maples was packed with a reported crowd of 7,287 that lent vocal support to the home team throughout the game.

The starting lineup featured Haley, Kiki, junior forward Cameron Brink, senior guard Hannah Jump and freshman guard Talana Lepolo, who served as point guard.

Unlike previous games, the bulk of minutes went to the starters, with Hannah and Haley each logging 44 minutes. Talana was close behind with 41.

Of the six bench players who got in, only senior guard Ashten Prechtel had double-digit minutes with 32. Moreover, the bench added only 9 points, while South Carolina’s bench had 34.

Cameron is closely guarded by South Carolina's Aliyah Boston.


Cameron leads everyone in scoring

Despite foul trouble that limited her to 24 minutes (she fouled out in overtime), Cameron led both teams in scoring with 25 points. Kiki and Hannah were her only other teammates in double figures, each with 11.

Stanford had only six 3’s, in part because South Carolina guard Zia Cooke stuck to  sharp-shooting Hannah like Velcro throughout the game. Thus, Hannah had only two 3’s. Cameron also had two 3’s. Talana and Ashten added the other two.

Stanford had 47 rebounds to the Gamecocks’ 41, and had 15 assists to the opponent’s nine. Stanford led in blocks, 10-7, including five from Ashten, four from Cameron and one from Haley.

On the other hand, turnovers were costly with Stanford committing 22 to South Carolina’s 11.

Free-throw shooting also favored South Carolina, who made 15 to Stanford’s 11 – a 4-point difference that might have affected the final outcome.

Grads join the crowd

The crowd included 2022 SWBB alumnae Lexie and Lacie Hull and Alyssa Jerome, who were shown during the game and introduced at the Behind the Bench. Teammate Anna Wilson also was reported to be there, and I spotted several other grads.

Jayne Appel-Marinelli, ’10, associate director of player operations for the WNBA Players Association, was on the sidelines with her family. Jayne has been a leader in the campaign to free Phoenix Suns star Brittney Griner from Russian custody.

Jayne, several other alums, the two head coaches and others wore long-sleeve T-shirts supporting Brittney. A table in the west concourse had paper for people to write notes of support. A video before the game and a moment of silence also honored her.

At the Behind the Bench, Kate introduced the five freshmen: Talana, center Lauren Betts and guards Indya Nivar, Stavi Papadaki and Lauren Green.

During that session, head coach Tara VanDerveer praised Talana, calling her fantastic.

She called the game exciting and said, “We’ll only get better. We played toe-to-toe with them.”

SC coach praises Tara

She was followed by South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, who played on the 1996 USA Olympic gold-winning team coached by Tara.

“She led the way,” Dawn said of Tara, adding that she learned a lot from Tara.

With this game in the record books, the Stanford women now set their sights on Thanksgiving weekend at the Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu. On the schedule are Florida Gulf Coast at 2 p.m. Nov. 25, Grambling State at 2 p.m. Nov. 26 and Hawaii at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 27. All times are Pacific Standard. Hawaii time is two hours earlier.

All three games will be broadcast on radio by Varsity Network. The Hawaii game also will be shown on Spectrum Sports.

After flying home, the team will host Santa Clara at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 and Gonzaga at noon Dec. 4. The Santa Clara game will be available on Stanford Live Stream. Pac-12 Bay Area will show the Gonzaga game.

Photos by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 18, 2022

Team goes undefeated through first five games

Hannah was the 3-point ace with eight against Cal Poly. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/AP)


Upping its season record to 5-0, the Stanford women’s basketball team defeated Cal Poly 80-43 Nov. 16 at Maples.

Senior guard Hannah Jump headlined this game. She matched career-highs with 24 points and eight 3’s. In all, the team had 10 3’s.

She stayed with her long-range shot despite missing her first four attempts during the first quarter, but then connected on the fifth try. She electrified the crowd of 2,469 and her teammates by making three in a row during the third quarter.

Hannah was part of the starting lineup along with senior guard Haley Jones, junior forward Cameron Brink, sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen and freshman guard Talana Lepolo.

Height gives Stanford an advantage

Stanford’s superior height was no match for the much shorter Cal Poly players, who had several shot-clock violations, but they made up for it with tenacity and feistiness. Five of them hail from the Bay Area, so presumably they had family and friends on hand.

Kiki started the game by scoring the team’s first four points.  

Head coach Tara VanDerveer sent in five new players during the first quarter, starting with senior forwards Ashten Prechtel and Fran Belibi followed by freshman guard Indya Nivar, sophomore guard Elena Bosgana and junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu.

Collectively, the 10 players outscored Cal Poly 23-8 during the opening quarter.

Hannah, Lauren in double figures

Four more players got into the game overall, and 12 scored. Besides Hannah, the only other Cardinal in double figures was freshman center Lauren Betts, who scored 13 points in 14 minutes and added a team-high seven rebounds.

Talana and Hannah logged the most minutes with 23 each.

Stanford dominated Cal Poly in every statistical category even while committing 13 turnovers. (Cal Poly had 20.)

First road trip, two more wins

This victory followed a successful road trip with Pacific falling 98-44 Nov. 11 and Portland going down 87-47 Nov. 13.

Kiki led the team against Pacific with 15 points, followed by Hannah with 14 and Ashten with 11. Three-pointers hit a season high with 12, thanks to 4 of 4 by Hannah and the rest by six others.

After missing the Cal State Northridge game, assistant coach Katy Steding was back with the team.

Haley leads the team against Portland

For the first time this season, Haley led the team in scoring with 17 against Portland. Three other players were in double figures, too.

And for the first time this season, the starting lineup changed somewhat, with Talana stepping in for Agnes. Splitting point guard duties with Haley, she recorded nine assists.

According to Stanford Athletics, through Nov. 14 Cameron led the nation in total blocks with 17 while Hannah had the most 3’s, 12. Talana was second in assists with 26, and Kiki was ninth in field goal percentage at 78.6.

Including the exhibition game against Vanguard, four different players were the top scorers in five games: Hannah with 12 against Vanguard, Kiki with 16 against San Diego State and 15 against Pacific, Lauren with 18 against Cal State Northridge and Haley against Portland with 17.

South Carolina next on the schedule

Coming up is the No. 2-ranked team’s sternest test to date: hosting No. 1 South Carolina at noon Nov. 20 in a game nationally televised by ABC.

This game will be followed by the season’s first Behind the Bench. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is expected to speak.

Cardinal players will spend the Thanksgiving break at the Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu. On the schedule are Florida Gulf Coast at 2 p.m. Nov. 25, Grambling State at 2 p.m. Nov. 26 and Hawaii at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 27. All times are Pacific Standard.

All three games will be broadcast on radio by Varsity Network. The Hawaii game also will be shown on Spectrum Sports.

 

  

November 10, 2022

Season starts with two dominating wins

 

Indya goes for a layup against San Diego State. (Carlos Avila Gonzalez/SF Chronicle)

The Stanford women’s basketball season got off to a strong start with home wins against San Diego State 86-48 on Nov. 7 and Cal State Northridge 104-40 on Nov. 9.

Starters for both games were the same as the exhibition against Vanguard with senior guards Haley Jones and Hannah Jump, junior forward Cameron Brink, junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu and sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen getting the nod.

With attendance at 3,012 with a sizable number of students, including the band, Tree, Dollies and cheerleaders, this game took on all the trappings of a regular game with Betty Ann Hagenau announcing.

The band offered a welcome respite from the too loud, canned rap sound tracks that substitute for real music.

Moment of silence for Brittney Griner

Before the teams’ starters were introduced at both games, Betty Ann asked for a moment of silence for the WNBA’s Brittney Griner, who’s imprisoned in Russia.

Cameron got the game under way with a 3-pointer. She went on to score 13 points and lead the team with eight rebounds and six blocks in 20 minutes.

She wasn’t the scoring leader, though. That honor went to Kiki, who had 16 points. Also in double figures were sophomore guard Elena Bosgana with 15 and freshman guard Indya Nivar with 13.

All 15 players contributed in some way, and no one played more than Haley’s 23 minutes.

As it did against Vanguard, the team had 11 3’s, led by Indya and Elena with three each and sophomore forward Brooke Demetre with two. Cameron, Hannah and redshirt freshman guard Jzaniya Harriel each had one.

Cardinal dominate statistically

The Cardinal dominated the Aztecs statistically. For example, the rebound advantage was 50-23.

One highlight came at the end of the second quarter, when Elena made a buzzer-beating 3, delighting her teammates.

Haley, who started as the point guard, made some long, pinpoint passes to Cameron, who was waiting under the basket and scored.

Freshman guard Talana Lepolo, who also served at the point, had 11 of the team’s 26 assists.

Overall, the team played at a fast pace, quickly passing rather than dribbling.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer substituted freely, apparently looking for the right combination in each situation.

Cal State Northridge falls to Stanford

In the team’s overwhelming defeat of Cal State Northridge before 2,421 fans, including the Warriors' Stephen Curry and his wife, Tara still substituted, but she kept some combinations together longer. (Associate coach Katy Steding wasn't seen.)

Nevertheless, everyone got in and contributed in some way. No one played more than 23 minutes (Haley).

When the fourth quarter opened, Stanford was leading 72-31 with three freshmen and two sophomores taking the court.

Lauren shoots over a Cal State Northridge defender. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/AP)


The Lauren Betts show

You could call that quarter the Lauren Betts show, as the 6’7” freshman center logged 16 of her game-high 18 points.

For a time, the plan for each possession seemed to be “give the ball to Lauren,” reminiscent of a time when the call seemed to be “give the ball to Jayne,” referring to Jayne Appel, ’10.

Lauren wasn’t the only one in double figures. Joining her were Hannah with 17, Brooke with 13, Cameron with 11 (plus 11 rebounds) and Kiki with 10.

Hannah records five 3’s

The bulk of Hannah’s points came from five 3’s, including three in a row during the third quarter. Also logging 3’s were Brooke with three, senior forward Ashten Prechtel with two and Elena with one.

Haley recorded seven of the team’s 22 assists. Cameron and Lauren with three each accounted for most of the team’s nine blocks.

Stanford again dominated in every statistical category while making only six turnovers.

Coming up next, the team is on the road to face Pacific in Stockton at 6 p.m. Nov. 11 and Portland at 2 p.m. Nov. 13. The Pacific game will be shown on the WCC Network, while ESPN2 will air the Portland game.

Then it’s back home for Cal Poly at 8 p.m. Nov. 16 (PAC-12 Networks) and the marquee game against defending national champion South Carolina at noon Nov. 20. This game will receive national coverage on ABC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 4, 2022

Easin’ into the season


Here's the 2022-23 team -- all 15 players. (Stanford photo)


“We don’t have any stars. We have a galaxy. We have great, great players,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said recently about the Stanford women’s basketball team.

The team displayed some of its prowess Nov. 2, breezing to a 102-25 exhibition victory over Vanguard.

Although the game didn’t count in the season record, it did provide a chance for all 15 players to compete against someone other than their teammates.

Cameron, Hannah, Haley, Kiki, Agnes get the starting nod

The starting lineup featured junior forward Cameron Brink, senior guard Hannah Jump, senior guard Haley Jones at the point, sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen and junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu.

They started somewhat slowly, leading only 6-5 about halfway through the first quarter, but holding a 19-10 advantage when the quarter ended.

In the meantime, others began coming in, giving nine players some floor time. First off the bench was freshman guard Talana Lepolo, then senior forward Fran Belibi, quickly followed by freshman guard Indya Nivar and sophomore forward Brooke Demetre.

By the time halftime rolled around, the team was up 43-17, and 12 players had seen action. By contrast, Vanguard used only nine players for the game.

Vanguard was held to only 2 points in the third quarter as the Cardinal zipped to a 73-19 lead. By then everyone had played.

Thirteen players score despite their limited minutes

Statistics are impressive. No one played more than 18 minutes (Hannah and Talana), and everyone played at least six minutes.

Thirteen players scored with five in double figures: Hannah, 12; sophomore guard Elena Bosgana and senior forward Ashten Prechtel, 11 each; Cameron and freshman center Lauren Betts, 10 each. Everyone contributed in some way, though.

For example, Talana had no points, but she dished out a team-high six assists and had two steals. Playing the point guard position, she moved the ball quickly and efficiently (no turnovers) and seemed content to facilitate.

Eleven 3’s add to total

The team’s sharp-shooting was evidenced with 11 3’s, thanks to four by Hannah, two by redshirt freshman Jzaniya Harriel, and one each by Ashten, Elena, Brooke, Indya and freshman guard Stavi Papadaki.

With its superior height, Stanford snared 59 rebounds (eight by Elena), compared with 23 by Vanguard.

In short, it was an impressive first look.

Tara speaks during Buck/Cardinal Club event

Tara’s comment about the team’s galaxy came during a Buck/Cardinal Club event Nov. 1.

It started with an open practice with some welcome developments: Unlike the scrimmage on Oct. 29,  Hannah was making her 3’s.

In addition, Fran participated in this practice, unlike the earlier one. However, when the team did pushups, she did sit-ups, presumably to avoid pressure on her taped left hand. She removed the tape afterward.

There were two mishaps: Elena seemed to have hurt her hand, but she shook it off.  Lauren went down hard under the north basket and headed for the locker room. Tara said later that she had been hit in the eye.

And some bright spots: Jzaniya played point guard sometimes and looked good.  Cameron made several 3’s, as did several other players, and she even hit a half-court shot during a drill.

After the practice ended at 6:30, the team posed for a photo. Haley, Indya and Stavi weren’t there because they had to rush off to classes.

Panelists answer questions

Next there was a panel with Fran, Hannah, Brooke and Kiki, who answered questions by Kevin Danna, play-by-play radio broadcaster for SWBB games and others.

Because the sound system was distorted, it was hard to understand some  answers. Hannah did produce one quotable answer: “Anyone can go off on any night.”

Her comment was in line with Tara’s, which came as part of a fan Q&A during a reception in the Home of Champions after the practice and panel.

Among other notable information, Tara said that this year’s seniors have the option of another season because of the COVID-disrupted season two years ago. She didn’t say who might stay although Haley plans to turn professional.

Tara praises freshmen

Tara spoke highly of all five freshmen, especially Lauren, who was the No. 1-rated player last year. “She is a talent” with “fabulous hands. …She makes life miserable for the other posts,” Tara said.

Competition starts for real against San Diego State at 7 p.m. Nov. 7, followed by Cal State Northridge, a late addition to the schedule, at 6 p.m. Nov. 9.

Both home games will be shown via Stanford Live Stream.

 

 

 

October 30, 2022

Scrimmage points to bright future

Fans of Stanford women’s basketball had their first chance to see the 2022-23 team in action at a scrimmage Oct. 29 and liked a lot of what they saw.

Speaking to several hundred fans and several dozen students, head coach Tara VanDerveer started the gathering by introducing all 15 players plus the other coaches, support staff, managers and male practice players.

The men and 14 of the women practiced in two teams, red and white. Senior forward Fran Belibi, whose left hand and wrist were bandaged, was sidelined.

Tara coached the white team with assistant coach Britney Anderson, while associate head coach Kate Paye oversaw the red team with assistant coach Katy Steding.

The scrimmage followed game format with four quarters and three referees.

White team starters were senior guards Haley Jones (point) and Hannah Jump, junior forward Cameron Brink, junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu and sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen.

Representing the red team to start were senior forward Ashten Prechtel, sophomore forward Brooke Demetre, freshman center Lauren Betts, freshman guard Talana Lepolo (point) and redshirt freshman guard Jzaniya Harriel.

Thereafter other players subbed in and out, and several switched sides.  Thus neither side was the clear winner. Instead everyone had a chance to play in different combinations.

One scare came late in the third quarter when Haley had a hard fall after scoring. She limped to the locker room with trainer Katelin Knox but soon returned to loud applause and played in the final quarter with no apparent problem.

Otherwise, here are some impressions about individual contributions:

Haley and Cameron, who were outstanding last year, are even better this year. Both are quick to the basket. Haley made some tough, acrobatic shots under the basket, and Cameron has added 3-pointers to her repertoire.

Kiki, who was impressive as a freshman, was even more so this time with quick, smart moves on both sides of the court.

Going into this season, there were questions about who would handle point guard duties. Haley was the first choice, but two freshmen, Talana and Indya Nivar, looked like two excellent candidates. Speedy Talana seemed especially confident and in command.

Jzaniya also had some good minutes at the point.

Hannah, who made so many 3’s last season, didn’t fare well with them this time, but she scored quite a few points from midrange and under the basket, two new skills for her. After the scrimmage, however, she was at the north basket making one 3 after another.

On the whole, everyone did well and made some good plays on both offense and defense, especially the returnees. We didn’t see much of 6’7” Lauren Betts, who sat out most of the second half.

In short, this team has a lot of potential and a boatload of talent. It will be fun to watch.

Next up for the team are an open practice for Buck Cardinal Club members on Nov. 1 and an exhibition game against Vanguard at 7 p.m. Nov. 2.

Competition starts for real against San Diego State at 7 p.m. Nov. 7, followed by Cal State Northridge, a late addition to the schedule, at 6 p.m. Nov. 9.

All three games will be available via Stanford Live Stream.

 

 

 

 

July 1, 2022

Future looks bright for upcoming season

Brooke Demetre (left), Kiki Iriafen, Jzaniya Haarriel and Fran Belibi at the 3x3 tournament in May. (Stanford Athletics)


With an abundance of talent on its 14-player roster, the Stanford women’s basketball team has high hopes for the coming season.

Everyone is available to practice, so the team is off to a great start, said associate head coach Kate Paye in a recent phone interview.

Thirteen players are on campus. The fourth, sophomore guard Elena Bosgana, is in her native Greece playing for her country’s U20 team in July.

Another Greek, freshman guard Stavi Papadaki, had a chance to play for Greece’s U18  team but made the difficult decision to come to Stanford to adjust to all that is new, Kate said.

As usual, returning players are welcoming the newcomers and helping them get adjusted. Besides Stavi, those newcomers are guards Indya Niver and Talana Lepolo along with forward Lauren Betts.

Power outage cancels classes

One glitch came June 21 when a fire near Edgewood Park between San Carlos and Redwood City resulted in a power outage that left much of the campus in the dark for several days and led to cancellation of classes through June 27.

It “made for an unusual week,” Kate said. The girls basketball day camp was cancelled, but the elite camp continued on a limited basis. One plus for no classes was that Stanford players could work at the camp all day.

Even before summer school started June 20, several players besides Elena were involved in competitions.

Players compete on national teams

Senior forward Fran Belibi and three of the sophomores, forward Kiki Iriafen and guards Brooke Demetre and Jzaniya Harriel, were on USA Basketball’s 3x3 team May 12 to 16 at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and made it to the semifinals.

Senior guard Hannah Jump played for her native England in the FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup qualifiers in Romania in early June. Indya was on the US National U18 team that won the gold.

Jeannette named to new position

In another recent development, Jeanette Pohlen, ’11, was named to the new position of director of player development after serving as a coaching intern last season.

Among other things, she will assume some of the duties of women’s basketball administrator Amy Tucker, who has fully retired.

She also will focus on alumni relations with former SWBB players, the team’s community service and off-court support for present players. Yet another duty will be “serving as a liaison with a number of other departments, on campus and beyond,” Stanford Athletics reported.

Kate said she’ll be “another resource for the team. She understands Stanford,” and the players respect her.

More students wanted at games

One of the program’s goals for the coming season is greater student attendance. Therefore, lower level sections 14-16 at the north end of Maples will be reserved for students.

Some season ticket holders will have to move, but “the role students play in creating a home court advantage for our team and enhancing the game day atmosphere for all attendees inside Maples Pavilion is critical,” Tara wrote in a message to season ticket holders.

Also looking ahead, the coaches foresee playing in a somewhat different way to use the front court more and “take advantage of (our) size,” Kate said.

Bright future foreseen

The team has some outstanding veteran forwards along with 6’7” Lauren, who moves well and is “eager to learn,” Kate said.

Thus the coaches have to figure out “how to take advantage of our strengths … We have great players on our team,” Kate said.

“We expect to have a championship season,” she concluded.

 

 

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