Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stanford Whips the Washingtons

After a four game road trip, the Washington Schools came to town and the Stanford Women’s Basketball team enjoyed playing on their home floor. Lili Thompson, in particular, likes playing at Maples.

After scoring 27 to help Stanford beat Washington 69-53, two days later she scored a career-high 30 points to beat Washington State 69-52. Don’t get C and R wrong, though, these games were very different, and the WSU game was much closer than the score indicates.

Lili Thompson
Lili Thompson scored 57 points in two games.
Photo courtesy of Stanford Official site.

However, C and R would be remiss if we did not point out Stanford’s defense in the first game. Washington had the leading score in the country, Kelsey Plum, and Stanford limited her to seven first half points. Granted, she got loose in the second and man, can she create her own shots, ala Steph Curry, and she had 23 for the game. However, Stanford held her four points under her average. In that game, Stanford got hot early, thanks to Lili and enjoyed a double-digit lead from the first quarter on.

Contrast that to the Washington State game. Stanford was down by two at the half, 27-25. A little birdie told us WSU was filled with international players and they definitely did not back down. They certainly were not afraid of Stanford and never gave up hustling. WSU was very aggressive, especially in the defense. Stanford had to earn every basket. Curious, WSU used full court pressure in the fourth to rattle Stanford, yet inexplicably backed off of it. Stanford traditionally is not good with full court pressure.

One thing that saved Stanford in this game was the rebounding, Stanford had 46 boards to their 26. Kaylee Johnson regained her rebounding mojo by pulling in 19, with Erica McCall hot on her heels with 14. Erica added 11 points for another double-double, her 12th of the season. Karlie Samuelson added 10 points, including two three-pointers. However, it was Lili who helped Stanford build a second half lead with her 30 points in 33 minutes, 24 of them in the second half. She was 5-11 from the three-point line.

Kaylee Johnson
Kaylee Johnson had 19 rebounds vs WSU.
Photo courtesy of Stanford Official site.

Again, the defense came through, limited WSU’s leading scorer Borislava Hristova to nine points, half her season average. Lili Thompson drew that assignment and it was just the third time the Bulgarian native has failed to score in double figures this season.

Next game…Cal at home and away!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Stanford Glad to be Or-e-Gone

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team (ranked #11) split two in the state of Oregon. First they played unranked Oregon, were trailing the whole game, and barely won 64-62. Then they played #12 Oregon State, built up a huge lead, and then couldn’t score in the fourth to lose 58-50. Two very contrasting games.

Stanford was without their tall tree Erica McCall, who was “not feeling well.” However they held Oregon’s lead scorer Jillian Alleyne to only three points in the first half and five total points. Stanford’s defense is often overlooked.

Kaylee Johnson got the start and made the most of it, and scored in double figures, finishing with 16 points. In fact, Kaylee looked like a different woman out there, hustling, yes, but so sure and confident, really going up strong when she got the ball, or an offensive rebound. We have not seen the type of swagger in her one and a half years on the farm.

What happened in the game, quite simply, Oregon was beating Stanford with threes. They connected on 12-21. Hats off to Karlie Samuelson for making a few herself (4-5) to keep it close. The fourth quarter started with Stanford only down by four.

In the fourth, after trailing the whole game, sometimes as much as nine points, Stanford got it within one with four minutes left, trailing 61-60. That score stuck around until Oregon’s Jillian made a free throw with 53 seconds left.

Lili Thompson
Lili Thompson wanted it!
Samuel Marshall/Emerald)
Cue the music, cue lights, cue our hero, Lili Thompson. Lili drove to her left and made a very tough lay up over two defenders with 35 seconds left to tie the game. And she was fouled! And she missed the free throw. Then rinse and repeat. Lili goes left, makes a tough lay up to go up by two with 2.2 seconds left, is fouled, and misses the free throw. A timeout advances the ball for Oregon and they even got a shot off, but it missed. Stanford hangs on to win 64-62.

Kaylee Johnson with 16, Lili with 16, and Karlie Samuelson with 18.

Oregon State
Which is harder for a fan to watch, trailing all game and heart attack with 2.2 seconds left for the win, or building up a huge lead, feeling good and munching popcorn, only to watch your team slowly starve to death for points and finally lose 58-50? C and R will answer for you. The second one.

This game was not without some Stanford highlights. It was good to see Kailee Johnson (no relation to Kaylee Johnson) have a break out game, take the ball up strong against a taller post and score 14, I believe a career high. Erica McCall was back in the lineup and scored 12. Alas, Lili’s magic from last game could not save them, and she ended up with nine points, and Karlie Samuelson had seven and fouled out of the game.

Tale of Two Halves
After trailing early in the first quarter, Stanford built up a nice lead against the Beavers in the second and even held them to nine points in the second quarter with a 17-6 run. The half time score was 30-21.

Then, Stanford held the Beavs (no relation to Justin Bieber) to nine points again in the third, but only scored ten points themselves, leading 40-30 to start the fourth. Then two things happened, Oregon State went to a zone and Stanford stayed in their same offense, which was not working, and Oregon’s Jamie Weisner got untracked. Wesiner only scored four points in the first half, and ended the game with 18. Also, Devan Hunter made 5-7 threes to end the game with 19. She had only made seven all season long.

How bad was it? Oregon State went on a 22-4 run to win 58-50. Wait, our math must be wrong. Oregon State outscored Stanford 28-10 in the fourth. Yowzza. Here’s more math. This win for Oregon was the first time in 15 years, snapping a29-game losing streak. The last time they won was 2001.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Stanford Beats Pac-12 East Teams

The Pac-12 East teams of the Colorado Buffalos (Yes! Really!) and the Utah Utes (believe it or not, not a typo from C) came in to town this week and Stanford beat both of them to climb up to  a three-way tie for third.

The Stanford Women’s Basketball team played the Utes first, and they get off to a slow start. Both teams. And this was after Stanford’s worst scoring performance against Arizona State. The first quarter in the Utah game ended with Stanford leading by a point, 13-12. Half time score had Stanford enjoying a slight 30-28 lead. Remember C and R’s last blog, saying this was a Jekyll and Hyde team. Well, it seems like when the Cardinal remember to drive in to the basket to score or draw a foul, or when they get an offensive rebound (and this is important) put it right back up, they do well, and win. This was the case with these two games.

Stanford finally pulled away early in the third quarter against Utah using this strategy and won 72-52. Four players scored in double figures. Lili Thompson and Brittany McPhee each scored 16 points. Karlie Samuelson adding 13, hitting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Erica McCall added 11 points to go with her 11 rebounds. Another double-double for Erica. Brittany McPhee was the catalyst for the third quarter surge, and mostly, her ability to penetrate and draw contact. She was 6-6 from the free throw line.

This game started out as a rinse and repeat game. Slow start, score tied at the first quarter 14-14. However, Stanford turned up the intensity, especially in the second half. And, they drove and rebounded, and were not afraid to put it back up, in particular our two bigs, Kaylee Johnson (why doesn’t she start) and Erica McCall.

Kaylee Johnnson and Erica McCall
Kaylee Johnson and Erica McCall each grabbed a double-double.
Photo courtesy of Stanford Official site.

The two trees each recorded a double-double, with Kaylee totaling 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Erica finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and a game-high three blocks. Kaylee's 17 points was a career-high, and she also topped the team with four assists, a personal best. At one point in the game, she was leading in points, rebounds and assists.

This game, Stanford showed a lot of hustle and intensity, something sorely lacking in other games. Lili Thompson really wanted it, and a lot of white and red jersey hit the floor diving after loose balls. Stanford went 1-10 with their first 10 shots in the opening quarter, but the thing was they were all good shots, lay ups, put backs, etc.

The difference in the subsequent quarters was that they made those shots, and had confidence when they did take them, including those strong-to-the-basket put backs. And when Stanford drives to the bucket, good things happen. Stanford had 34 free throw attempts (!) and made 23 of them. That’s 67% for the game for those of you keeping score at home, and C and R are sure head coach Tara VanDerveer would like to see that percentage go up. Those are free shots, y’all!

Strangely, Lili didn’t score until deep into the second quarter, however she nailed a three, which also put her over 1,000 career points. She is the 36 Stanford player to reach that milestone. Congrats. Lili!
Final score against Colorado, 71-56.

Keep it going (or stick to your Mr. Hyde side!), Stanford!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Stanford Splits Two in the Desert

Last year, the Stanford Women’s Basketball team lost to Arizona in Tucson in February. You better believe that head coach Tara VanDerveer has not forgotten. Or forgiven. This time, the Cardinal were focused and alert and beat Arizona 59-35.

Shining Star
The shining star in this game was sophomore Brittany McPhee. She scored a season high 21, just three off her career high. She hit some threes (3-6), as is Tara’s game plan, everyone shoots threes. However what helped her score even more was her driving to the basket and taking contact. Sometimes she made the basket, or sometimes she made her free throws (6-8) but her fearlessness to go right at it, and the other team, really sets her apart.

Brittany McPhee
Brittany McThree! Photo Courtesy of Stanford Women's Basketball
You know who else was a shining star this game? Our Aussie Alanna Smith. She scored 16, mostly on threes (4-5) this game. She is tall and creates a mismatch when a tall player guards her and doesn’t’ not come out to the three point line.

Third shining star: the defense. Stanford held Arizona to 18% shooting in the first half, and 15 total points. It was the fourth straight game were Stanford forced their opponent to under 23 percent shooting. Stanford’s official site recorded that “both Arizona’s point total and field goal percentage were program lows for a Pac-12 game. The 34 points allowed also tied a Stanford record for fewest allowed in a Pac-12 game, matching the same total from a 60-34 win against Washington State on Feb. 8, 2007.”

Arizona State
Last year Arizona won BOTH games against Stanford.
Stanford had a rough night vs Arizona State - Patrick Breen/azcentral sports
This year they are half way there. Wanna here some depressing numbers? Stanford only scored 31 points in their game with Arizona State and lost 49-31. They set the school record for lowest points ever in a game. The previous record was 32, against Missouri State in 1984! They had just seven total points in the first quarter and 14 at the half.

More depressing numbers: Stanford hit just 11 for 43 shots and was 1-9 from threes. Live by the three and die by the three, and boy did Stanford die a thousand deaths. When the three ball did not fall, they had nothing else to go to. No real inside game. Erica McCall would take the ball to the hoop and then…stop? She scored 4 points. Lots of players missed lay ups and put backs. What happened to Brittany driving in and drawing contact? They looked waaaay to tentative.

Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde
This was the team that lost to Santa Clara. What happened to the team that beat Tennessee? Or Arizona a few days ago?  We want to see that team for the rest of Pac-12 play.