Stanford DailySPORTS – Stanford Daily 12/3/2016 Sat, 03 Dec 2016 06:02:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Women’s volleyball sweeps Denver to advance to NCAA second round Sat, 03 Dec 2016 06:02:50 +0000 No. 9 Stanford women’s volleyball (22-7, 15-5 Pac-12) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, sweeping Denver (23-8, 13-3 Summit League) 25-12, 25-22, 25-20. The team will take on Boise State (26-6, 16-2 Mountain West) in the second round later tonight.  

Entering the tournament as the sixth overall seed, Stanford improved to 36-0 all-time in NCAA first-round matches behind fifth-year senior Inky Ajanaku’s 12 kills on .526 hitting and reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kathryn Plummer’s team-leading ninth double-double of the season. Senior outside hitter Ivana Vanjak added 11 kills, while a trio of Plummer, freshman libero Morgan Hentz and freshman setter Jenna Gray each recorded 11 digs.   

The straight-set victory was deceptively close against a Denver team that brought a different style of volleyball than what the Cardinal were used to. Stanford’s young team, which included four freshman starters, struggled to find rhythm early in the match but gained confidence throughout to claim the win.

“For a lot of people on the court tonight, it was their first time playing in the tournament, and I’m actually really proud of how they reacted,” said Ajanaku.  

The teams were evenly matched to start the first set, trading points to reach an 8-8 tie.  Stanford pulled ahead off strong serving by sophomore defensive specialist Halland McKenna and didn’t surrender the lead, finishing with an 11-1 run to end the set. The Cardinal took advantage of eight Denver errors while holding the Pioneers to a .057 hitting percentage.  Stanford looked sharp, hitting .423 as a team.             

Denver came out strong in the second and built up a 4-0 lead. High effort from both teams and several long rallies kept the teams neck and neck, with Denver recording crucial digs to keep rallies going despite Stanford’s attempts. Tied at 17-all, the Cardinal gained momentum to claim the set, battling through five set points that ended with a powerful kill from Ajanaku.

“We lean a lot on Inky,” said head coach John Dunning, “She’s a very natural leader and she’s really stepped up and taken a bigger role, and I think that really motivates our team.”

The third set remained close and included nine ties and five lead changes. After slipping to .250 hitting in the second, the Cardinal regained control, reaching an impressive .452 mark as a team. As in the previous set, the teams swapped points to a 17-17 tie before Stanford pulled ahead, going on a 8-3 run to take the first-round matchup.

Stanford’s second-round match against Boise State will be another home game tonight at 7 p.m. The Broncos extended their 15-game winning streak, as they kicked off their first NCAA Tournament appearance with a sweep of Western Kentucky in Friday’s other first-round contest. Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between Stanford and Boise State in program history.

On heading into a tough second-round matchup, Ajanaku seemed optimistic, “I think if we can work well as a team together and bring our best game each night then we’ll be in good shape.”


Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’

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Cardinal(s) standoff in men’s soccer quarterfinals Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:08:47 +0000 It’s Cardinal against Cardinals this Saturday at 4 p.m. as No. 5 Stanford men’s soccer (13-3-4) takes on No. 4 Louisville (14-5-2) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament at Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium.

The Stanford men are on a three-game win streak, including a 1-0 win in double overtime to advance the Cardinal past No. 16 Virginia in the third-round last Sunday. Both defenses shined, and the Cavaliers held Stanford to a stalemate until junior forward Foster Langsdorf knocked a header into the Cavaliers’ goal — his seventh winner of the season in double overtime.

Meanwhile, Louisville is coming off a third-round win over Notre Dame by a 3-1 margin of victory. The Cardinals are playing their third straight NCAA Tournament match at home as one of the top four seeds, and a win on Saturday would push the 2016 team to 15 wins, its second highest single season win total in school history.

This match will pit Stanford’s Hermann semifinalist junior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce against the Louisville’s Hermann semifinalist junior defender Tim Kubel.

While Saturday will undoubtedly prove a defensive standoff, Langsdorf and Louisville’s Mohamed Thiaw are both dynamic offensive players that will play a big part in deciding the quarterfinal outcome. A Stanford win this Saturday would keep it on course for a second consecutive national title — a first for the men’s soccer program.


Contact Kit Ramgopal at kramgopa ‘at’

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Well-rounded women’s basketball hurries past Roadrunners Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:04:28 +0000 Erica McCall #24. Photo by Rahim Ullah

Senior forward Erica McCall blazes past defenders as she heads towards the basket. McCall, a veteran player, has contributed to several wins this season, including the one on Thursday night. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball (8-1) dominated the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (1-5) 77-56 and continued to show its depth of talent as last night’s victory included nine different Stanford players in double digit minutes.

Following their tournament title in Cancun last weekend, the Cardinal returned to their winning ways in their first true away game of the season at Bakersfield. In front of a hostile crowd, Stanford continued its fiery defense, holding the Roadrunners to a meager 40 percent from the field and 25 percent from outside the perimeter.

Both teams initially started the game with sharp shooting, ending the first quarter tied at 20-20 despite a standout performance from veteran forward Erica McCall. The senior put up 10 points in addition to four rebounds and one assist in an astounding first quarter.

The rest of the team then came to the life to begin the second quarter. Within the first few minutes of play, sophomore guard Marta Sniezek passed a stolen ball toward the basket to fellow sophomore Alanna Smith, who sunk the transition layup, earning the foul and putting Stanford up six in the second.

Senior guard Karlie Samuelson put up the last points of the half when she sank two free throws at the two-minute mark, finishing the half with a 40-26 lead over the Roadrunners. The Cardinal’s defense also showed throughout that critical second quarter as Stanford held CSUB to only six points during all 10 minutes. Stanford ended the half shooting 50 percent (14-of-28) compared to CSUB’s 39.3 percent (11-of-28).

Stanford came out of halftime with the same intensity as before, throttling the Roadrunners’ defense and refusing to let the game enter competitiveness. With such a large margin heading late into the game, head coach Tara VanDerveer decided to play with younger rotations, ultimately allowing freshman forward Nadia Fingall to earn seven points and three rebounds in seven second-half minutes.

Last night’s win marks the fifth in a row for this surging team that heads back home to face UC Davis (4-1) on Sunday.


Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ and Sydney Shaw at sshaw17 ‘at’

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Women’s basketball turns attention toward Aggies Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:59:42 +0000 Sophomore forward, Alanna Smith, powers past opponents to score. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Sophomore forward Alanna Smith powers past a Texas opponent to score. Smith has been an important asset for Stanford with a high number of blocks and rebounds. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Surging from last night’s win against CSU Bakersfield (1-4) in the Cardinal’s first true away game on the season, No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball (8-1) will return to Maples Pavilion to take on UC Davis (4-1) this Sunday.  

Junior forward Erica McCall notched a double-double and three other Cardinal players scored in double figures in a rout of the Roadrunners.

Additionally, the Cardinal showed off their depth over Thanksgiving weekend while claiming the Cancun Challenge tournament championship. Stanford started the tournament with two blowouts, first against Northeastern and then against Wichita State and, despite struggling defensively early on, proceeded to recover in the second half of the final to hold off Purdue and take the trophy.  

The three games featured three different starting lineups and three different leading scorers: McCall, junior guard Brittany McPhee and sophomore center Shannon Coffee.

McCall, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, was also named to the watch list for the 2017 Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year this past Wednesday.  The final decision will be made at the end of the season.

UC Davis is led by a pair of veteran forwards — junior Pele Gianotti and junior Morgan Bertsch, who average 13.6 and 16.2 points per game, respectively, in the season so far. While the Aggies promise to threaten in the paint, Stanford will need to focus on taking care of the ball against a Davis defense that generates 15.4 turnovers per game.

Tip-off against the Aggies is this Sunday at 2 p.m.  The game will be featured on Stanford Live Stream.


Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’     

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Men’s basketball looks to respond to home defeat at No. 4 Kansas Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:56:27 +0000 Stanford men’s basketball (6-2) will need to regroup quickly from a demoralizing loss to No. 12 Saint Mary’s (6-0) as it heads to Lawrence to play No. 4 Kansas (6-1) on Saturday.

The Cardinal struggled defending the perimeter against the Gaels in the second half, a recipe for disaster if it continues against Kansas. The Jayhawks shoot 51.5 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from three.

Stanford’s leading scorers, juniors Dorian Pickens and Reid Travis, will have to rebound from subpar offensive performances.

Pickens, who led the Cardinal in scoring in the Advocare Invitational with 18.3 points per game, did not score a single field goal and ended the game with two points. Travis had eight points and only five rebounds after averaging a double-double in the first seven games.

The Jayhawks are led by senior guard Frank Mason III, who is averaging 19.6 points per game. The Cardinal will also have their hands full with Big 12 Newcomer of the Week freshman guard Josh Jackson. Jackson scores 14.1 points per game and leads Kansas with 5.7 rebounds per game.

For first-year Cardinal coach Jerod Haase, the game marks a return to the team he starred on as a guard, going undefeated over three seasons.

The teams will tip off at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.


Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’

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Second-half slump hands men’s basketball loss to No. 12 Saint Mary’s Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:58:06 +0000 With just over seven minutes left, junior point guard Robert Cartwright stole the ball, drove down the court and found center Grant Verhoeven for an easy layup to pull the Cardinal within five points. But the senior’s team-high 12 points and electric second-half play could not rally the team back as Stanford men’s basketball (6-2) came up short at home against No. 12 Saint Mary’s (6-0) 66-51.

The Wednesday night matchup pitted the Gaels’ Calvin Hermanson against junior guard Dorian Pickens, who earned All-Tournament honors at last week’s Advocare Invitational, in which Pickens averaged 18.3 points per game. Pickens was quiet on the night, finishing 0-of-4 from the field with just two points in 30 minutes. By contrast, Hermanson shot 9-of-11, including 7-of-9 from beyond the arc, where he drilled five three-pointers in the second half.

While the Cardinal displayed a balanced attack and solid defense, particularly inside, early on to give them a 30-26 lead at halftime, Saint Mary’s adjusted by pushing the ball to the perimeter and started the second half on a 12-0 run.

“We do try to play inside-out,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said. “Obviously, it didn’t work effectively enough.”

The Gaels shot 40.7 percent from three-point land, where the Cardinal connected for only three out of 12 attempts.

The Stanford offense continued converting on the low post, however, to give Verhoeven and junior forward Reid Travis a combined 9-of-17 total compared to just 31.6 percent from the rest of the team. Junior forward Michael Humphrey made a mere two buckets on nine tries, including a chucked-up three-pointer that hit the bottom of the backboard as the Stanford shot clock wound down.

“We need multiple guys on the offensive end to be efficient,” Haase said. “We’re not at that point yet.”

Though Hermanson’s career-high 25 points and three-point splashes proved lethal for Stanford, Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett said he thought his forward’s defensive effort outshone all else.

“I don’t think Dorian got a good shot off all night,” Bennett said. “To hold a guy like that, who’s probably an All-Pac-12 guy, to two points, he did a good job.”

Hermanson said he was more proud of his defensive performance as well.

“I like defense more. There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a tough assignment and locking a guy down,” he said.

The student section at Maples was more full than usual to watch the Cardinal take on their first ranked opponent. Despite the packed section, the smaller Saint Mary’s traveling crowd made its presence heard.

“When there’s a ‘Go Stanford’ chant going on, and then after, when they say ‘Stanford,’ you hear our fans say ‘Gaels,’ it’s pretty cool to have that support of your student body behind you,” said Gaels guard Joe Rahon, who posted 10 points on the night. “Even though you’re on the road, we’re going on a run and you could hear cheering, which I think is very rare for a road game. So that helped us keep the ball rolling in the second half.”

For Verhoeven, who was the Cardinal’s only consistent offensive threat in the second half, an upset would have meant a great deal to the team, which started 6-1 for the first time in five seasons under first-year coach Haase.

“It’s a missed opportunity, but we have another one coming right up on Saturday,” Verhoeven said.

Stanford travels to Kansas on Saturday to take on the No. 4 Jayhawks.


Contact Tristan Vanech at tvanech ‘at’

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Rosas: Westbrook is doomed to fail in quest for NBA immortality Thu, 01 Dec 2016 07:03:03 +0000 Monday night in New York City, Russell Westbrook willed himself forward in his crusade for basketball immortality by finally reaching a triple-double average on the season against the lowly Knicks. In doing so, he became the first player since Oscar Robertson in the early 1960s to hold the honor this late into the season.

Russell’s domination across all statistics only increases when considering the slower pace of play in modern-day NBA action, highlighted by the Thunder’s 33-seconds-per-shot average compared to the Robertson-led Bucks’ average of 27 seconds per shot.

On top of it all, Westbrook’s varying performances are miraculously more impressive when considering he is second in the league with 30.9 points per game, behind another one-man demolition squad, the freak athlete Anthony Davis.

Westbrook’s roll only continued with his fifth straight triple-double, while dragging the rest of the mediocre, if not subpar, Thunder squad to an overtime victory against the Wizards on Wednesday night. Yet even with all those distractions about NBA history, Westbrook continues to keep his mentality unshaken each and every night.

Winning is sustainable. That’s all I know, man, and my job is to make sure we go out and find the best way to win games, and right now we’ve won three straight, and that’s the most important part for me.”

That’s what an exhausted Russ told reporters following his record-setting Monday night deconstruction of the Knicks. Yet despite Westbrook’s team-first mentality, it certainly raises the question: Will the Thunder frontman and Oklahoma icon finally take home the Most Valuable Player award that has long evaded him?

Ultimately, however, regardless of Westbrook’s continual energy and passion on the court that translates into his dominance of all facets of the game, I still fail to see a reality in which Russ finishes this season as the MVP (barring an unprecedented turnaround from the rest of the struggling Thunder roster into a formidable, playoff-caliber team).

NBA fans have to look back almost 20 years to a young 1978-88 Michael Jordan — a.k.a. the best player to ever grace the game — in order to find an NBA MVP outside the top two seeds in the playoffs that year. Even then, Jordan needed to lead the Bulls to the third seed in the East in order to earn that title.

Moses Malone earned the individual title as a fourth seed for the Houston Rockets while having a ridiculous statistical career similar to Westbrook’s season thus far. Malone finished fourth with Houston, yet won the award after averaging a double-double with 24.8 points and 17.6 rebounds per game, in addition to leading the Rockets with a ludicrous 41.8 minutes per game.

Russ’s best hope at taking home the individual glory, and — to be quite honest, any trophy at all this season — rests in becoming another outlier similar to Malone and ultimately changing the way the Most Valuable Player award is perceived by voters and analysts around the association. But even in accomplishing that, Westbrook looks to be damned by the very organization to which he has pledged his loyalty.

The Thunder possess an atrocious plus-minus with Westbrook off the court, nearly doubling the NBA’s worst team: the Philadelphia 76ers. This contrasts with OKC having over a plus-6 points per 100 possessions, near the top of the league, when their iconic point guard is on the floor. The dramatic change only reinforces Thunder’s early-season doubters’ and critics’ conceptions about the team behind their No. 1 guy, and ultimately doesn’t bode well for OKC’s chances at any home-court advantages come April.

That being said, Oklahoma City isn’t in a bad place as of now, despite its lackluster play as a whole so far. According to FiveThirtyEight, which runs data-driven simulations after each game to assess playoff probabilities for each team, Russ’ incredible performances have singlehandedly given the Thunder an 87 percent chance at the franchise’s sixth consecutive postseason appearance.

Ultimately, however, Westbrook contends against fellow MVP candidates like Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, who can simply point to their teams’ elite records as a part of their MVP resumes. While the Oklahoma season continues to be awe-inspiring, Russ needs to either beat the increasing number of MVP-worthy players on elite teams or convince a large enough group of NBA voters to change the meaning behind the Most Valuable Player, both which seem near impossible.

Thus, while I as much as anyone continue to enjoy the Westbrook show, I simply can’t help but think that Russ’ MVP run unfortunately rests on the shoulders of his teammates to perform up to the standard their point guard sets. If they can’t, Westbrook’s inevitably increasing frustration will pose a greater threat than an MVP award for a once-promising Thunder franchise.


Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ if you question whether Russell Westbrook would still be willing to accept Lorenzo’s nomination for MVP if he knew it was written while wearing a Lakers jersey. Send a photo of Kobe Bryant for yes and a photo of Shaquille O’Neal for no.

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Women’s volleyball to take on Denver in first round of NCAA Tournament Thu, 01 Dec 2016 07:02:27 +0000 No. 11 Stanford women’s volleyball (21-7, 9-5 Pac-12) will take on Denver (23-8, 13-3 Summit League) Friday night in Maples Pavilion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With a win, the Cardinal will advance to the second round on Saturday, also in Maples Pavilion. In total, three matches will be played at Stanford this weekend, which comprise the first two rounds of the tournament.

Stanford comes into this game on a four-match winning streak and with a higher national ranking, so on paper, the Cardinal have the upper hand. However, this is the postseason, and Denver is a skilled opponent, so a Stanford win will require precision and communication.

The Cardinal and the Pioneers have similar strengths, making the match a tough setup for both teams.

On the defensive end, the two teams match up relatively evenly. Stanford holds a record of about 14.2 digs per set and Denver boasts a slightly higher 14.5.

Of course, defense is one of Stanford’s fortes, as the team features several star defensive players, including fifth-year senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku, whose 1.51 blocks per set rank eighth in the nation. A double threat, Ajanaku also plays a key offensive role and is second on the team with 2.66 kills per set.

Defensively, she is joined by freshman middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris, who has racked up 151 total blocks this season, barely trailing Ajanaku’s 154. Her 1.42 blocks per set rank 17th in the nation, and Stanford is one of just two teams to have multiple players in the top 20.

On the attack, the Cardinal will no doubt look to their team leader in kills, freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer, who has been a spark offensively this season, tallying nearly 80 more kills than anyone else on the squad.

Stanford does have the edge over Denver with 14.1 kills per set in comparison to the Pioneers’ 13.2, but these statistics don’t show a large gap in talent between the two teams. The Cardinal have also slightly outdone the Pioneers with a .274 attack percentage this season, in comparison to Denver’s .266.

On the whole, Stanford should be wary of Denver’s service, as the Pioneers have tallied 162 aces this season. In fact, the Pioneers have recorded an average of nearly 1.4 aces per set, making this one of their strongest assets.

Should the Cardinal advance to the second round, they will take on either the No. 20 Western Kentucky Lady Toppers (30-2, 14-0 Conference USA) or the Boise State Broncos (25-6, 16-2 Mountain West). Each team won its respective conference title, and the Broncos are currently riding a 14-match win streak, so the Cardinal may have their work cut out for them. However, Stanford owns a 2-0 lifetime record against the Lady Toppers and swept them the last time the teams met in the 2012 postseason.

The Cardinal will begin NCAA Tournament play for the 36th consecutive season on Friday. Both Friday and Saturday’s games will be streamed live on, with Stanford’s first serve at 7 p.m.


Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’

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Spelfogel: Stanford’s bowl outlook Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:37:01 +0000 Have you set your winter travel plans yet?

Pinkish Pasadena? No way, not two years in a row!

Shiny San Diego? Sounds nice…

Steamy San Antonio? So hot!

Sun-kissed Santa Clara? Too Close!

El Paso!?!? What???

Good thing you don’t have any holiday plans yet, because Stanford football’s holiday locale is just as up in the air as yours. Next week will finally illuminate the Cardinal’s long-awaited bowl selection. And there is a lot to talk about.

Stanford has one of the most interesting prospects of any team in the FBS, because of the sheer number of bowls it could be drawn into. The Cardinal currently sit at No. 18 in the College Football Playoff committee’s rankings this week. While the Playoff is thoroughly out of reach, the rankings of other teams add intrigue and suspense to Stanford’s bowl selection.

Despite the high national ranking, Stanford is just fifth in the Pac-12 conference overall right now. And because Pac-12 affiliated bowls can select teams with one more conference win or loss than Stanford, its final “bowl ranking” could fall anywhere from third to sixth in the conference. This will depend on the outcome of other games this weekend as well as how much each bowl “likes” Stanford.

Before any of that gets figured out, though, the Pac-12 has one game left — its championship — which pins a one-loss Washington team against a highly ranked Colorado team.

There is a scenario  — albeit highly unlikely — in which the Pac-12 gets a Playoff and two New Year’s Six bids. If Washington and Colorado play a compelling game this weekend in Santa Clara, they could both end up remaining in the top 10. In that situation, a high-riding Washington team makes the College Football Playoff, staying at the No. 4 spot, and the Buffaloes could rank at No. 8 or 9 — ahead of the loser of the Big Ten championship game — and head to the Cotton Bowl. 

The Rose Bowl would then have to choose between two 9-3 teams in Stanford and USC. Despite Stanford’s domination of the Trojans earlier in the season, the Rose Bowl would be salivating too much at the prospect of USC returning to its friendly confines for the first time in nearly a decade for it to spurn the Trojans.

With USC being selected to the Rose Bowl, Stanford could still have a great bowl matchup in the form of the Alamo Bowl or the Holiday Bowl.

The Alamo Bowl would get selection preference and, if selected, Stanford could face either the loser of the Bedlam game or West Virginia. This would certainly be enemy territory if Stanford is to face one of the Oklahoma schools. But, if the Alamo Bowl selects Washington State over Stanford, the Cardinal could go to the Holiday Bowl against the loser of the Big Ten championship game — or maybe even play a rematch of last year’s Rose Bowl against Iowa.

But these outlooks are, well, rosier (certainly no pun intended there) than Stanford’s expected bowl selection results.

If Washington were to miss the CFP, it would go to the Rose Bowl and cause a chain reaction that would push Stanford down to a lower bowl. Likewise, even if Washington does make the CFP, but Colorado is not ranked higher than the loser of the Big Ten championship, and thus does not also make a BCS bowl game, the same cascade effect takes place.

In this case, the Holiday Bowl would have to choose between Stanford and Wazzu, and even though the Cougars are unranked and lost to an FCS team, their head-to-head victory over Stanford, higher conference ranking, and the reputation of fans not traveling to bowls could mean Stanford is out of luck.

Stanford would then, in theory, end up back in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 28, facing Iowa or a lower-ranked Big Ten school like Minnesota. Depending on other selections, Stanford could also face Nebraska in this game. While not carrying the same allure as the Rose Bowl, an Iowa rematch just a few miles from campus would be appealing.

One lingering concern is Stanford’s lack of traveling fan support. While having a bowl game just a few minutes from campus would seem ideal, two seasons ago Levi’s Stadium was mostly empty for Stanford’s Foster Farms Bowl appearance against Maryland. If Stanford is competing against Utah for a spot in the bowl, the selectors could pass on Stanford in the hopes that Utah draws more fans.

If Stanford does indeed fall all the way to the Sun Bowl, the Cardinal would face an ACC team such as North Carolina or Miami in El Paso.

The results of the Pac-12 and Big Ten championship games this weekend will have the greatest effects on where Stanford will be selected. If you want to celebrate New Year’s in San Diego, then root for Washington to closely defeat Colorado and Wisconsin to beat Penn State.

Otherwise, gamble and hope for chaos.

Depending on how the cookie crumbles, you might be dealing with Texas heat or just a short car ride down the 101. Either way, this weekend will write the final chapter in the 2016 regular season, and allow you to finally make those pesky winter travel plans.


Contact Michael Spelfogel at mspel ‘at’ if you want to borrow his rose-colored glasses. He rents them out at both weekly and bi-monthly rates (Cal students will be charged a 500-percent premium).

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Mather: Past and future collide in basketball’s battle against Saint Mary’s Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:26:07 +0000 When Stanford put a basketball team named the Gaels on the team’s schedule last season, I have to admit that I scarcely blinked an eye.

It wasn’t until the Cardinal suffered a 78-61 drubbing at the hands of Saint Mary’s that I took a second look at this program from a small school in Moraga, California. While I thought I half remembered the team challenging Gonzaga for a few West Coast Conference titles some years back, I hadn’t really considered that they’d be able to hang with a Power Eight program like Stanford.

It turns out, however, that Saint Mary’s has been hanging with Stanford for a long time. Stanford’s series history with the Gaels goes back all the way to the 1913-14 season, when the Cardinal lost a low-scoring game at home by a 34-30 margin. The Cardinal would only win one of their next three matchups against the Gaels before finally asserting a bit of control in the series when they began a sequence of 16 consecutive home games in 1918.

Stanford’s 56-game history with Saint Mary’s seems to date back to an era in which college basketball was a bit more of a local affair and the team made a number of stops around the Bay Area in any given season. Along with Saint Mary’s and the program’s annual games against California, Stanford enjoyed long histories with teams like San Francisco, San Jose State, Pacific and Santa Clara.

While only the Bears proved able to hang with Stanford on a year-in and year-out basis, each team enjoyed at least some success topping its neighbor from Palo Alto. Saint Mary’s got 15 wins against the Cardinal before last year, the third most of this group behind Santa Clara’s 26 and San Francisco’s 21.

Of course, as time progressed and long-distance travel became more practical, the importance of playing these nearby opponents began to wane. Matchups against teams like Saint Mary’s went from being a fixture for the Cardinal in the ’50s and ’60s to more occasional in the ’70s and ’80s, until they started to disappear altogether in the ’80s and ’90s.

Today’s game will mark just the third time that Stanford has played Saint Mary’s in my lifetime; the last real home-and-away before the present one culminated in 1989.

Still, the timing for the present-day throwback could hardly be better. Saint Mary’s is currently ranked No. 12 in the country in the AP poll, and the Cardinal are off to their best start since 2011 under first-year coach Jerod Haase. Despite its historic dominance, Stanford will face a real gut check against Saint Mary’s, and even just keeping this iteration of the rivalry close would be a strong achievement for this young squad.

The Cardinal’s rocking run of play has been impressive thus far, and Wednesday’s game gives them an opportunity to take it to the next level. Aside from some chaos in the final 10 minutes of the team’s only loss against Miami, Stanford has looked to be buying into the new system of Haase, riding it to wins against quality competition like Harvard and Seton Hall.

Saint Mary’s is a different caliber of opponent, and its strong Australian recruiting pipeline that has included the likes of Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova seems to be at work again with players like Jock Landale and Emmett Naar. What’s more, this squad figures to be especially hungry after its promising season last year ended in only an NIT berth. If the Cardinal can at least keep these talents from completely dominating the scoreboard, it might indicate that the team’s progress is real and not just another one of the false starts that have teased Stanford fans in recent years.

While Saint Mary’s and Stanford have undeniably evolved in different directions, there’s something kind of cool about seeing them meet again in a high-stakes matchup. As much as the game of basketball has changed since these programs first met, this series is a reminder of how much a few players in this sport can change the entire fortune of almost any given program, as they currently are for the Gaels and as they may soon for Stanford. I hope tonight’s game continues to embody the surprising competitiveness that has defined this series ever since 1913. It’s possible that this old rivalry may still have a few new twists in store.


Contact Andrew Mather if you believe his choice not to major in history was a mistake at amather ‘at’ Potential thesis topics he considered include “The gender politics within men’s basketball, post-Maples construction” and “David Shaw: An analysis.” 

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Stanford in the NFL: Cardinal alumni quiet in Week 12 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 03:35:54 +0000 In what was a quiet, injury-affected week for Stanford alumni in the NFL, offensive and defensive contributions came in small dosages but from many faces. Other than the physically imposing Cardinal lineman corps in the NFL, Stanford alumni represented mostly through the air, with a number of different ex-Cardinal recording receptions.

In the receiving ranks, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin caught seven passes while leading the team in receptions but only gained 34 yards as the Seattle offense struggled in the team’s 14-5 loss to Tampa Bay.

At the tight end position, New Orleans’ Coby Fleener hauled in four catches for 59 yards, helping his Saints offense steamroll a usually stout Rams defense in New Orleans’ 49-21 rout. Falcons tight ends Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper split time with 57 percent and 47 percent of offensive snaps, catching one pass for 18 yards and two passes for eight yards, respectively, in Atlanta’s 38-19 home victory over Arizona. Bengals fullback/tight end Ryan Hewitt reeled in one of his two targets for a five-yard gain as Cincinnati fell to Baltimore 19-14. The catch was Hewitt’s first of the season.

In Monday night’s showdown at Lincoln Financial Field, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz reeled in half of his six targets for 36 yards, suffering with the rest of Philadelphia’s offense on the night. On the other side, Packers’ do-it-all weapon Ty Montgomery caught two passes for 12 yards, added one rush for two yards and returned a kick for 18 yards in Green Bay’s 27-13 win over the Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Up front in the trenches, Steelers guard David DeCastro, 49ers guard Joshua Garnett and Saints guard Andrus Peat played every single one of their respective teams’ offensive snaps in last week’s action. Meanwhile, Patriots versatile lineman Cameron Fleming featured in a number of offensive snaps en route to New England’s win over the Jets.

DeCastro has started all 11 of Pittsburgh’s games this year and Peat has started all 10 games for the Saints for which he has been healthy and available. Garnett has now started the last six games for the 49ers, while Fleming has seen time in all 11 of the Patriots games, starting four.

On the defensive side of things, Browns safety Ed Reynolds logged five total tackles in yet another Cleveland loss, this time at home to the Giants, 27-13. The game marked his fourth in a row with five or more tackles. Jordan Richards, Reynolds’ fellow safety at Stanford, made the most of his special teams snaps for the New England Patriots, recording one tackle, his third on the year.

Staying in the secondary, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman registered two tackles, but was beaten over the top for a 23-yard touchdown by Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans in the first quarter, extending the Tampa Bay lead to 14-0 in what would turn into a defensive showdown the rest of the way, giving the Bucs a 14-5 victory.

On the defensive front, Colts tackles David Parry and Henry Anderson registered four and two tackles, respectively, in Indianapolis’ 28-7 loss to Pittsburgh. For Anderson, the tackles represented his third and fourth tackles of the season. Parry now has 33 tackles on the year.

Arizona defensive end Josh Mauro made two tackles, including one tackle for loss, in the Cardinals’ 38-19 loss to Atlanta. Redskins defensive end/outside linebacker Trent Murphy also made two tackles this week, but Washington still fell short to the surging 10-1 Cowboys by the score of 31-26 on Thanksgiving Day.

Finally, 49ers linebacker Shayne Skov yet again capitalized on limited playing time, assisting on a tackle over just 14 snaps in San Francisco’s 31-24 loss to Miami.

The most notable of injured Stanford alumni include Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Packers linebacker Blake Martinez. Luck sat out this week due to a concussion and Martinez was kept on the sidelines with a sprained MCL. Luck is expected to be back for the Colts tilt against the Jets this upcoming Monday, while Martinez’s return timetable is less certain.


Contact Jamie MacFarlane at jamiemac ‘at’

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Men’s basketball looks to prove itself against No. 12 Saint Mary’s Tue, 29 Nov 2016 06:11:34 +0000 Stanford men’s basketball (6-1) will look to knock off a ranked opponent and stay undefeated at home as it takes on the No. 12 Saint Mary’s Gaels (5-0) at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday. The game will be the Cardinal’s first against a ranked opponent this season.

Stanford will look to its leading scorers, junior forward Reid Travis and junior guard Dorian Pickens, to boost the offense past a stingy Saint Mary’s defense that is giving up only 63.8 points a game. Travis is averaging a double-double with 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while Pickens has averaged 15.4 points.

Defensively, the Cardinal will have their work cut out for them, as the Gaels are averaging 81.8 points per game on 52.8-percent shooting. Saint Mary’s has proven to be adept at ball distribution so far, with its 19.8 assists per game ranking sixth nationally.

The Gaels are led in scoring by junior center Jock Landale, who is averaging 21 points per contest on 76.3-percent shooting. Landale, who stands at just under 7 feet tall, is also the team leader in rebounds and blocks, averaging 9.2 boards and a block per game.

Tip-off will be at 8 p.m., and the game will be aired on Pac-12 Networks.


Contact Samuel Curry at currys ‘at’

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Ziperski: It’s time to kill the super-team Tue, 29 Nov 2016 04:13:51 +0000 Almost all basketball fans remember the LeBron James “Decision” saga during the summer of 2010, when he left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to form “The Big Three,” the NBA’s most fearsome trio of stars.

And we all remember what happened this past July, when Kevin Durant shocked the sports world and left the Oklahoma City Thunder — the only franchise he had ever known — to play in Oakland with two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, sharpshooter and lockdown defender Klay Thompson, as well as others like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

The post-2010 NBA has been the era of the “super-team:” teams whose rosters are loaded with two, three or even four of the biggest stars in the league. First it was the Miami Heat. Then came the Cleveland Cavaliers, after LeBron returned from his stint in Miami. And now it’s the Golden State Warriors. In four of the six NBA Finals series since “The Decision,” one of these three teams has won it all.

Many fans enjoy watching these super-teams walk all over the other teams in the league. But the stunning lack of parity makes the sport far less exciting, especially when compared to the NFL. For example, over the last four years, perennial contenders like the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears have been reduced to little more than laughingstocks, while traditional bottom-feeders like the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks have risen to prominence.

The NFL — despite the plethora of problems it faces — generates far more excitement than the NBA. Every year, excited fans tune in, unsure of what the playoff picture will look like. In the NBA, however, the playoff situation is a foregone conclusion, save for a few fliers here or there that sneak into the last few spots.

The 82-game season makes each individual game almost meaningless; the season’s length itself is a disincentive for fans to care. The NBA cannot let a lack of parity make the situation even worse.

I’d like to propose a solution: Eliminate the arbitrary, league-mandated maximum salaries for individual players.

Of course, the league cannot eliminate the team salary cap altogether; that would be catastrophic for parity. But it can eliminate the arbitrary caps on individual player salaries, which limit the salaries to a pre-determined percentage of the salary cap based on some combination of a player’s experience and accolades.

Essentially, I’m proposing that the NBA work more like a free market, of sorts. Working within the salary cap, players could freely negotiate with front offices around the league and receive compensation commensurate with their worth. Stars would not have their salaries arbitrarily depressed, and likewise, middling-role players would no longer benefit from arbitrary salary inflation.

Imagine how free agency may have played out over the last few years. James, Wade and Bosh would never have teamed up — no team could have paid all three salaries even remotely close to their true worth. LeBron may have still returned to Cleveland, but you can bet that one of Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love would not have joined him. And Kevin Durant would never have left Oklahoma City, because Golden State simply could not have afforded the yearly salary his skill set commands with so many other stars already on the payroll.

We prevent workers from being paid what they’re worth in very few industries. When excellent surgeons save their patients’ lives, we compensate them handsomely. When charismatic salespeople market their products effectively, we reward them with commissions. And when inspiring teachers help kids reach their full potential, we make sure they receive generous bonuses (or at least we should, but that’s another article entirely).

As a society, we generally recognize that those at the very top of their profession should earn far more than their average counterparts, and we generally allow the free market to determine what they’re worth. So why should we toss those ideas aside when it comes to basketball?

Unfortunately, the likelihood of such a change coming to fruition is remarkably low. The dozens of role players with inflated salaries would fight hard to ensure that individual salary caps remained in place. Without them, their compensation would be slashed dramatically. The handful of players who would personally benefit would be heavily outnumbered.

Yet I still believe the league should consider making a change. Super-teams just aren’t good for the league. It may be fun to watch them beat up on their hapless opponents, but it gets old, fast. For parity’s sake — for the league’s sake — it’s time we take the steps to kill them.

Contact Andrew Ziperski at ajzip ‘at’

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Video: The life of a Stanford rower Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:27:05 +0000

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Women’s basketball cruises to tournament win in Cancun Mon, 28 Nov 2016 06:52:31 +0000 “We just didn’t get it done on the defensive end,” head coach Tara VanDerveer stated following No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball’s (6-1) heartbreaking loss to an unranked Gonzaga squad just over a week ago. “We have a lot of work to do, but I think that we will have the players that will get to work.”

Heading into this past weekend’s Cancun Challenge, the Cardinal women not only fixed their defensive miscommunication but resoundingly marched to the tournament championship while increasing their level of play in every facet, defeating Northeastern (2-5) 74-45, Wichita State (2-4) 87-39 and Purdue (3-4) 78-69 in the tournament final to clinch the trophy.

Stanford showcased its impressive depth, starting three different rotations in each game, yet the Cardinal managed to click on both sides of the floor, holding opponents to 45 and 39 points, respectively, in the first two games of the tournament.

In addition to the three starting lineups, Stanford had three different leading scorers in its three games: junior forward Erica McCall, junior guard Brittany McPhee, and sophomore center Shannon Coffee. As a result of their depth and continuous sharing of the ball, the Cardinal entered into Saturday’s final as the 10th most shot-efficient team on the floor and was able to leave the tournament with the eighth-best mark in the country, shooting an astounding 49.3 percent from the field.

Stanford’s depth in rotations, however, could not have been possible without the three seniors on the squad, guards Briana Roberson and Karlie Samuelson, as well as McCall, the Cancun Challenge MVP. While Roberson came off the bench in the tournament final, the seniors remained menaces to opposition in every game, allowing the young players to find open space with Stanford’s increased ball movement.

While the offense scored in bunches, the Cardinal defense truly brought home the championship for the streaking Cardinal. Stanford led for the entirety of the first two games against Northeastern and Wichita St., and, ultimately, the Stanford defense clinched the championship by holding a hot Purdue to only 27 points in the second half of the final, as opposed to the 42 allowed in the first half.

Stanford started its weekend-long feast with a Thanksgiving Day win over Northeastern University, a 74-45 walloping powered by McCall’s 27-point performance in only 29 minutes played. After jumping to a 19-9 first quarter lead behind a hot start from sophomore Alanna Smith and a pair of three-pointers from Samuelson, Stanford hardly needed to look back at its opponent, increasing its lead gradually until the final whistle.

The Cardinal followed their Thanksgiving celebrations with another resounding blowout, this time delivered to Wichita State, which looked completely outmatched by Stanford from tipoff. Not only did the Cardinal defeat the Shockers by a large margin, but they also could not be stopped by a struggling Wichita defense that allowed Stanford to drain 62 percent from the field. Six different Cardinal players ended the night with double digits in the scoring column, although no player remained in the game for more than 21 minutes on the night.

The deep rotation allowed for some much-needed rest in the midst of the three-day tournament, which ultimately translated into increased minutes for the starters in the final. Three Cardinal players, including McCall, played all 40 minutes for VanDerveer in Saturday’s final matchup.

Purdue took the lead from Stanford late in the first quarter and exploded offensively to end the first half with 42 points on 52 percent from the field and 56 percent from the perimeter. However VanDerveer’s defense found its rhythm by riding its original starting five for all 20 minutes of the second half.

Stanford subsequently held the Boilermakers to 29 points on a meager 33 percent shooting in the second half.

Samuelson earned herself recognition for her strong performance, as she was named to the all-tournament team. The 6-foot guard went 6-for-8 on three-point shots in the final, en route to another 20-point performance. On the year, Samuelson has hit 54.8 percent of her three-pointers, good for fifth in the Pac-12 conference.

“This is a total team effort.” VanDerveer told her team following the championship victory. “It was a great team win. Congratulations to Stanford. It’s always the name on the front that’s more important than the name on the back.”

The Cardinal will hit the road once again when they take on Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will be shown on WAC Digital Network.


Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’

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Langsdorf’s game-winner propels men’s soccer to NCAA quarterfinals Mon, 28 Nov 2016 06:34:20 +0000 A 106th-minute header from Foster Langsdorf proved the deciding score as No. 5 Stanford men’s soccer (13-3-4) was able to best the University of Virginia Cavaliers (11-4-5), with a 1-0 overtime win. Thanks to Langsdorf’s seventh game-winner, Stanford’s dreams of defending its 2015 national title are very much alive.

“It was an incredible game with two ultra-competitive teams that went back and forth,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “In these tight ones it’s all about executing on chances. Soccer’s that tight game that is always going to be very nip-and-tuck.”

This game was the matchup of champions: UVA won the National Championship in 2014, while Stanford won the title last season. This year, in the second round of NCAAs, Virginia proved that it was a team to fight to the end, as it advanced on a double overtime win against Vermont. UVA junior midfielder Pablo Aguilar found success in the 103rd minute with a dramatic goal just under the right post – his third game-winning goal in a row for the Cavaliers.

Stanford had an easier time with its second-round opponents, as it defeated Pacific 2-0. The Cardinal’s success can be credited in large part to offensive staples Langsdorf and Tomas Hilliard-Arce, each of whom had one goal last week. Stanford’s defense continued a season of domination in Cagan Stadium, as senior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein tallied yet another shutout performance.

Stanford opened Sunday’s match with early attacks from Langsdorf and junior midfielder Bryce Marion in the first half. The Cardinal would go on to outshoot UVA 17-9 over the course of the night, but the game saw offensive breakaways from both teams throughout the match.

It proved to be a physical matchup, with each team tallying 17 fouls. To UVA’s frustration, the Cardinal defense successfully defended the 18-yard box against all eight Cavalier corner kicks. Epstein blocked all four shots on net, giving Stanford the opportunity to win by putting just a single goal away. Before today’s match, Epstein was tied for 11th among active NCAA players in solo shutouts, and today’s win will give him a forward push in the stat books.

Both teams were at a stalemate until the second overtime. The Cardinal needed to score, and Langsdorf, co-Pac-12 Player of the Year, gave them the answer. Against the Cavaliers, he got a header off an assist from junior defender Adam Mosharaffa and Hillard-Arce, and he sailed it into the back of the net, giving Stanford the win in sudden death double overtime.

Throughout this season, Langsdorf has consistently pulled off game-winning goals for Stanford just when Stanford needs them the most. Just two weeks ago, Langsdorf scored the go-ahead goal against Bay Area-rival Cal to put Stanford up 2-1 in its final conference match. He has scored seven game-winners in this season alone, and his 14 goals on the season place him ninth overall in the Stanford record books – the best record in the last 15 years.

Langsdorf’s headers appear to be a key ingredient to Stanford’s postseason success. Last year in the NCAA tournament, Langsdorf scored on another header against then-top-seeded Wake Forest to send Stanford to its first College Cup since 2002.

“The mentality was great, and we just kept going,” Gunn said. “Our boys work tremendously hard. Virginia is a very good, skillful passing team and they managed to break our pressure down well at times, but there were other times when we managed to pressure, win the ball and go after them.”

With this win, the Cardinal have placed themselves among the top eight teams in the nation, as they advance to the NCAA quarterfinals. Stanford will travel to take on No. 4-seed Louisville on Saturday at 4 p.m.


Contact Julia Massaro at jmassaro ‘at’

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Men’s basketball takes fifth place at Advocare Invitational Tournament Mon, 28 Nov 2016 06:28:54 +0000 Stanford men’s basketball (6-1) came in fifth place at the Advocare Invitational by defeating Seton Hall (4-2) 66-52 on Sunday in Orlando. The Cardinal began the tournament with high expectations after accumulating a perfect 4-0 record to open the season.

In their first matchup at the Invitational, the Cardinal were defeated 67-53 by the University of Miami (4-2). The Cardinal led for the majority of the game, but a late rally by the Hurricanes saw Miami take the win in the end.

Stanford began the game in dominating fashion, as it quickly claimed a seven-point lead against Miami in the opening minutes of the first half. The Hurricanes regrouped and went on a run to tie the game at 23 apiece with two minutes remaining. The Cardinal answered with their own run to end the half with a four-point lead.

The second half began similarly to the start of the first period as Stanford built an eight-point lead over the Hurricanes (33-25). Miami responded by going on an 8-0 run to tie the game again. The lead then seesawed between teams for a few minutes until sophomore guard Anthony Lawrence Jr.’s three-pointer put Miami up (48-45) for good with nine minutes remaining.

The Cardinal would go on one more run to cut the Hurricanes’ lead down to four (56-52) with three minutes remaining, but they would only score one more point while Miami tacked on another 10. Stanford was outscored by Miami 44-26 in the second half, and the Hurricanes shot a blistering 62.5 percent in the final period.

Junior guard Dorian Pickens led the Cardinal in scoring with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Junior forward Reid Travis continued his double-double exploits as he scored 11 points and gobbled up 10 boards. It was Travis’s third double-double in five games.

Stanford’s opponent on the second day of the invitational was Indiana State (2-3). The Sycamores fell to the Cardinal 65-62 in a wild finish as Pickens hit the game-winning three with 2.0 seconds left.

Pickens and Travis led all scorers with 19 points apiece. Travis ended the game with another double-double after picking up 12 rebounds.

Pickens’s game-winning three gave Stanford the lead after Indiana State tied the game (62-62) off a three-pointer from junior guard Brenton Scott. Scott led the Sycamores in scoring with 13 points. Stanford shot 36.5 percent and out-rebounded Indiana State 47-31. The Cardinal committed 18 turnovers to the Sycamores’ seven, and Indiana State was only able to score 14 points off the turnovers.

Stanford concluded the tournament with the fifth place game against Seton Hall. The Cardinal trailed early in the first half but managed to tie the game heading into the break (26-26) after scoring the final eight points of the period.

The Cardinal came out of the break on a tear as a 15-1 run gave Stanford a 43-31 lead that it would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Stanford dominated the second half offensivel, outscoring Seton Hall 40-26 in the final period.

Pickens stuffed the box score as he scored 21 points, dished out two assists, grabbed five rebounds and had three steals. He has scored double-digits in 11 out of the last 12 games stretching back to last season. He was named to the Advocare Invitational All-Tournament team after averaging 18.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals.

“Dorian is so smooth, so confident, so fluid,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said.

“Our whole thing was how good Pickens is,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “He’s really picked it up from last year. He’s just a consistent, solid player.”

Travis failed to accrue another double-double but had a solid 16 points and seven rebounds for Stanford. Senior forward Grant Verhoeven was the defensive anchor for the Cardinal as he drew five Seton Hall charges to go along with his four rebounds and two steals.

The Cardinal will come back home to welcome No. 15 Saint Mary’s (5-0) on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.


Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’

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Seniors go out with a bang as football runs away from Rice Mon, 28 Nov 2016 04:12:03 +0000 An emotional day for 25 Stanford seniors playing their final game at Stanford Stadium ended in a victory for the No. 24 Cardinal (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) as they defeated the Rice Owls (3-9, 2-6 Conference USA) 41-17 Saturday night in the rain.

The Stanford offense amassed 534 yards, marking its third straight week with over 500 yards. The better part of those yards came on the ground, as the Stanford offensive line overpowered a weak Rice defense and allowed the Stanford ball-carriers to run wild on their way to gaining 373 yards on 8.7 yards per carry as a group.

Significant contributions came from multiple sources in the running game, with junior running back Christian McCaffrey leading the pack with 204 rushing yards, while sophomore running back Bryce Love had 111 yards on just seven attempts, and junior quarterback Keller Chryst took the ball 62 yards to pay dirt in the first quarter, the longest run by a Stanford quarterback in over 20 years. Saturday was the first time Stanford has had two 100-yard rushers since quarterback Kevin Hogan and McCaffrey did it against Washington State in 2015.

“We have had injuries left and right, but our guys have done a great job staying resilient and doing an awesome job sticking to the P’s and Q’s of what we know. And when [the offensive line] comes together as a group and pushes guys and moves guys, it makes our job easy as backs,” McCaffrey said.

While Stanford’s passing game didn’t have quite the same output as the running game, it was still effective. Keller Chryst connected with his receivers 11 times on 16 attempts and accumulated 154 yards through the air on a solid 9.6 yards per attempt.

“[I’m] proud of Keller Chryst and the growth he’s continued to make. Once again, not perfect, but we don’t expect that … he made some great throws,” head coach David Shaw said.

Chryst started the party for the Cardinal offense, getting it on the board with an exciting 62-yard run in which he barely stayed in-bounds by tiptoeing the sideline and proceeding to throw a Rice defensive back off of him en route to the end zone. Stanford would use the accurate leg of senior kicker Conrad Ukropina its next two drives, going up 13-0 by the end of the first.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal defense suffocated Rice’s offense in the first quarter, forcing three three-and-outs and not allowing the Owls to pick up a first down for the entire quarter. Stanford outgained Rice 199 yards to 14 in the first.

“Defensively, we came out and played really well. We kept them out of the end zone for a long time. Really excited about the guys we have there,” Shaw said.

The Owls picked it up a little in the second quarter, forcing Stanford to punt before allowing McCaffrey to score a 23-yard receiving touchdown on the next drive. Rice then put together a long 19-play, 63-yard drive and found the end zone, but a holding penalty negated the score and forced Rice to settle for a field goal and go into the half trailing 20-3.

Stanford’s first-half performance against arguably one of the worst teams in the nation left a little more to be desired, but as the rain picked up in the third quarter, so did the Cardinal offense, and they scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives, including a 19-yard McCaffrey run, a 50-yard touchdown off of a reverse to Bryce Love and a 45-yard touchdown reception from senior wide receiver Francis Owusu.

The catch was Owusu’s first receiving touchdown since his ESPY-nominated grab against UCLA last season.

“[Francis] is a big part of this football team, and he’s done so much over the last couple years … It was a great ball by Keller down there and for him to run it down, it was great to see,” Shaw said.

The Cardinal gave freshman linebacker Curtis Robinson, who had two sacks in the game, more experience and put seniors who don’t get a lot of playing time in early in the fourth on their way to closing out the Owls, 41-17.

“Every Senior Day is so hard … These guys have done so much and it’s hard to shake those guys’ hands and [hear] the names get called without getting emotional … proud of those guys,” Shaw said.

Saturday marked the end of the 2016 season for the Rice Owls. Stanford now waits to hear who it will be playing and when and where they will be traveling for the postseason, which will be announced at the end of the week.


Contact Samuel Curry at currys ‘at’

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Photos: Big Game 2016 Highlights Sun, 27 Nov 2016 22:27:57 +0000 Photos by Syler Peralta-Ramos and Rahim Ullah

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Instant recap: Stanford sends off seniors, blows out Rice 41-17 Sun, 27 Nov 2016 04:34:06 +0000 Continuing a torrid streak running the football, the No. 24 Stanford Cardinal (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) took to the ground early and often in a 41-17 rout of the visiting Rice Owls (3-9, 2-6 C-USA), capping off the regular season with a five-game winning streak.

The Cardinal, who amassed 356 rushing yards, got the ground game going early on their first possession when quarterback Keller Chryst escaped from the pocket on third down, tiptoed down the sideline and bulldozed an Owl defensive back en route to a 62-yard touchdown, the longest rushing score by a Stanford quarterback in over 20 years. Chryst finished his day completing 11 of his 16 passes for 154 yards and two passing touchdowns.

After kicking two field goals and punting on their next three drives, the Cardinal found the end zone again in the second quarter behind a 23-yard receiving touchdown from Chryst to Christian McCaffrey. The do-it-all junior turned in another stellar all-purpose performance despite sitting out for much of the fourth quarter, rushing 30 times for 204 yards and a touchdown while grabbing two passes for another 23 yards in what might have been his final game in Stanford Stadium.

The Cardinal would go on to put the game on ice in the third quarter, following a 16-yard rushing touchdown from McCaffrey, a 50-yard Bryce Love dash to the end zone on a reverse and a 45-yard connection from Chryst to senior Francis Owusu. McCaffrey and Love would each eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark, becoming the first Stanford tandem to accomplish the feat since Kevin Hogan and McCaffrey last season against Washington State.

The Stanford defense also closed out the regular season with a trademark consistent performance, holding the Owls to 291 yards of total offense and a meager 5-for-20 conversion rate on third down. Fifth-year senior safety Dallas Lloyd, in his final game in a Cardinal uniform, led all Stanford defenders with seven tackles.

The Cardinal now await word on their bowl fate, which will be announced at the end of next week. With a bowl victory, Stanford will finish with a 10-win season for the sixth time in the last seven years.


Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’

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Football predictions: Stanford vs. Rice Fri, 25 Nov 2016 20:05:43 +0000 top-bannerCongratulations to Kevin Marcelli, from Daly City, California, the winner of last week’s Stanford Daily Football Predictions Challenge, presented by Chef Chu’s.

No. 24 Stanford (8-3, 6-3 Pac-12) vs. Rice (3-8, 2-6 C-USA) 

Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 48, Rice 21

I’ve remained skeptical of the Stanford offense throughout the Cardinal’s four-game winning streak, but I’ve got to give credit where it’s due. In the past three weeks, the Cardinal have twice eclipsed the 40-point plateau while putting up both the second and third most rushing yards in a game during the David Shaw era. That’s dominance. The caliber of defenses in the last month may not compare to what Stanford saw in the first half of the season, but there’s no doubt that an angry, much-improved offensive line and a fully healthy Christian McCaffrey have come together like a match and methane for some truly explosive results. With the Cardinal facing yet another bottom-10 defense in Rice, look for the Cardinal to establish the run early and often and continue their recent scoring barrage. Keller Chryst, who takes another step forward in his fifth week as a starter, opens the floodgates with a deep shot to Michael Rector while Dallas Lloyd records a pick-six. But when it’s all said and done, the night will belong to McCaffrey, as No. 5 runs circles around the Owls to set the school record for career all-purpose yards in what might be his final home game in a Stanford uniform.

Tristan Vanech: Stanford 59, Rice 24

After Rice starting quarterback Tyler Stehling injured his knee at the beginning of last week’s game, the Owls seemed to emerge with his name written on their chests. Backup Jackson Tyner went 18-of-26 passing for just under 200 yards with two touchdown passes and a long touchdown grab to lead his team to a resounding 44-24 victory. The only catch (pun intended): It was against an equally bad UTEP. The Houstonians may be on a two-game clip, but Stanford’s recent success has been twice as impressive. With Chryst looking as polished as ever and Christian McCaffrey still being Christian McCaffrey, the Cardinal hammer in a first-half scoring line comparable to that of the win at Oregon a few weeks ago, while not allowing more than a couple non-garbage-time Rice drives to reach the end zone. Shaw pulls several starters at the end of the third quarter, Bryce Love notches two runs of 40+ yards and Ryan Burns connects with Isaiah Brandt-Sims for his first career touchdown as Stanford steamrolls Rice in this regular season finale.

Andrew Mather: Stanford 49, Rice 10

It’s not that pretty, but the only question that needs to be answered in this one is how much Stanford wants to win by. When you take into account the quality of competition, Rice very well may be the lowest-rated defense in the country, and unless we see some 2007 USC-Stanford-level magic, this game will be decided by halftime. Still, this contest gives the Cardinal a chance to get an easy win on the final week of their regular season while Rice takes a trip to the Golden State and makes a few TV dollars. The college football world goes on.


Have your own predictions? Submit them in this week’s Stanford Daily Football Predictions Challenge for a chance to win a $50 Chef Chu’s gift card and be featured in the next football predictions article:

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Football to host Rice in regular season finale Fri, 25 Nov 2016 08:08:57 +0000 Following a record-tying seventh consecutive Big Game victory, the No. 24 Stanford Cardinal (8-3, 6-3 Pac-12) move from one week defined by traditions into another as they prepare to take on the visiting Rice Owls (3-8, 2-6 Conference USA).

Gone is the red dye from the campus fountains; the train whistle can stop working overtime and return to signaling Cardinal scoring plays. Taking their place for the regular season finale are “My Last Walk” shirts and a chance for every fourth- and fifth-year senior to be introduced as they emerge from the tunnel, taking it all in for the final time at Stanford Stadium.

With this heightened sense of awareness that another college football season is quickly coming to a close, the Cardinal have continued to approach practice with a businesslike intensity, looking to seize unrealized potential in a season of ups and downs.

“For what we’ve done this year, we have no right to look down on anybody,” head coach David Shaw said. “Hopefully, we have that feeling of still trying to make up for lost time.”

“We still have a lot of guys that are improving,” he added. “We can’t take a step back. We can’t take our foot off the gas pedal. We have to keep pushing and keep growing. The real opponent for us is making sure that we play better than we did last week.”

Rice comes into this matchup with a win streak of its own, a two-game run with wins over Charlotte and UT El Paso. The injury-depleted Owls, however, received yet another devastating blow in their victory over the Miners last week as fifth-year senior starting quarterback Tyler Stehling went down with a knee injury on the game’s opening drive.

In a season where the Owls have already had to endure 32 players succumbing to a stomach virus, a tally of season-ending injuries that has hit double digits and eight different combinations along the offensive line, head coach David Bailiff’s team will have to overcome one more hurdle before the season comes to an end. Redshirt freshman Jackson Tyner, who replaced Stehling in last week’s victory, will make his first career start at quarterback after completing 18 of his 25 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against UTEP.

As Rice’s leader in rushing attempts this season, Stehling’s absence will also put additional strain on the Owls’ running game and, in particular, on senior tailback Darik Dillard, who has accumulated 416 yards on the ground this season to the tune of 4.57 yards per carry.

The real concern for Rice, though, comes on the other side of the ball, where the Owls rank sixth-to-last in the FBS in total defense and will now face a blossoming Stanford offense that has averaged 39.7 points and 335 rushing yards in its last three games.

Headlining Stanford’s offensive resurgence, especially on the ground, is a fully healthy Christian McCaffrey, who, after breaking his own school record with 284 rushing yards in Big Game, now stands just 404 all-purpose yards away from moving past Darrin Nelson for most in school history.

With the chatter surrounding McCaffrey, who is eligible to enter the NFL draft next spring, and with McCaffrey’s future continuing to build, Shaw reaffirmed that only fourth- and fifth-year players will be participating in the Senior Night ceremonies. He also added that McCaffrey has already done enough in his career to earn him legendary status within the sport.

“[McCaffrey’s] one of the best players in the history of college football. Just mark it down. It’s the truth,” Shaw said. “The numbers say the same thing the film says: This guy’s an all-time great.”

With McCaffrey poised to feature prominently again against a Rice defense that has had its share of struggles, Shaw also noted that Saturday’s regular season finale presents another opportunity for starting quarterback Keller Chryst to grow and gain experience in his role.

“Just like the transition from the first week to the second week and the second week to the third week,” said Shaw of his expectations of Chryst. “As I said to him a couple weeks ago, you want to watch yourself play and make it look like you’re in practice: smooth, relaxed and comfortable.”

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Stanford will say goodbye to an impactful senior class, in which 10 of the 12 scholarship signees developed into major contributors, and look to end the regular season with a five-game winning streak. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.


Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’

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Women’s volleyball defeats Oregon for third straight sweep Thu, 24 Nov 2016 09:00:22 +0000 A big kill from middle blocker Inky Ajanaku sealed the deal for No. 12 Stanford women’s volleyball (20-7, 14-5 Pac-12) as it swept No. 19 Oregon (19-9, 12-7) in Maples Pavilion Wednesday night. This marks the Cardinal’s 16th consecutive 20-win season — a mark the squad has attained in every season that John Dunning has served as head coach.

It was a career night for Ajanaku, who surpassed Foluke Akinradewo for fourth place on Stanford’s all-time career blocks list. The fifth-year senior’s five blocks on the night brought her career total to 583.

Ajanaku and freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer led the Cardinal offensively, putting up 10 kills apiece, as Stanford asserted itself in a key end-of season matchup with the NCAA Tournament announcement just around the corner.

Although the lead shifted between the two teams on Wednesday, the Cardinal were able to make up early deficits in two of three sets on their way to a 25-22, 25-11, 25-22 sweep.

In the first set, the Ducks were able to secure an 11-7 advantage before Stanford went on a 13-6 tear to regain momentum. During the run, freshman setter Jenna Gray recorded five assists, targeting four different teammates for the kill. Although Oregon came within striking distance at the end of the set, Stanford was able to keep the Ducks at bay.

The Cardinal controlled the second set. While the teams started off kill-for-kill, Stanford inched ahead to a 6-5 lead before taking a 7-1 run and never looking back. Oregon struggled with consistency in the set, hitting a meager .033 to the Cardinal’s .565.

The Ducks pulled out to a 10-7 lead in the third set, but Stanford countered with a 10-2 run. However, it was a short-lived lead, as Oregon took a 7-2 run of its own to even the score at 19 apiece. Stanford took the next point and maintained its lead to win the match.

Up next, the Cardinal will take on Bay Area rival Cal (9-19, 3-15) in Maples Pavilion on Friday, wrapping up their regular season with what is sure to be an exciting match. With the Golden Bears in the midst of a late-season slump, Stanford will seek a statement win as it keeps its eyes on the postseason. First serve will be at 5 p.m. and the match will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.


Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’

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One game behind conference lead, women’s volleyball takes on Oregon Wed, 23 Nov 2016 06:28:19 +0000

Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer (right) has been a tour de force for the Cardinal so far this year. (SYLER PERALTA-RAMOS/The Stanford Daily)

Heading into the final week of regular season play, No. 12 Stanford women’s volleyball (19-7, 13-5 Pac-12)  will host No. 19 Oregon (19-8, 12-6) this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Just one match back of first place in the Pac-12 Conference and looking for their second conference championship in three years, the Cardinal must deliver if they want to keep the title within reach.

Stanford is coming off a dominant Arizona road trip last weekend, which resulted in back-to-back sweeps of conference opponents Arizona State and Arizona. Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer led Stanford’s offense in those games, averaging a team-best 4.67 kills and 5.17 points per set. Plummer was awarded Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week by the Pac-12 Conference.  This was the third Freshman of the Week honor and first offensive honor for the rookie.

Stanford has not faced Oregon this season. The last time the team faced the Ducks in November 2015, the Cardinal delivered a 3-0 win, raising their record to 56-4 all-time against Oregon.  

The conference matchup will be played in Maples Pavilion. Coverage is available on Pac-12 Networks.      


Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’

Women’s basketball heads south to play in Cancun Challenge Wed, 23 Nov 2016 06:27:06 +0000 With a decisive win against the CSUN Matadors in the books, No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball (3-1) will now fly south to play in the Cancun Challenge. The Cardinal face Northeastern (2-2), Wichita State (1-2)  and Purdue (1-3) on consecutive days starting on Thanksgiving.     

In its last game, Stanford showed a well-rounded style of play. Eleven players contributed points in the win, and half of all Cardinal points came off the bench. The team shot 33-of-69, much improved from its Nov. 18 loss to Gonzaga.  

Stanford also improved defensively against the Matadors. The Cardinal defense held CSUN to 15.8 percent three-point shooting and outrebounded their opponent 52-29.  Freshman forward Nadia Fingall, sophomore forward Alanna Smith and junior forward Kaylee Johnson each recorded seven rebounds and contributed to aggressive play in the paint, where Stanford scored 52 of its 88 points.

This tournament in Cancun will be another opportunity for Stanford to compete with non-conference opponents. The team will wait for Pac-12 matchups to start on Dec. 30.  

The Cardinal will take on teams in Cancun, Mexico, this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Matches against Northeastern and Wichita State start at 8 a.m. PT, while the Saturday match against Purdue begins at 10:30 a.m. All matches are available on Triple Crown Sports.   


Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’

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Stanford in the NFL: Offensive alumni shine despite being plagued by injuries Wed, 23 Nov 2016 05:31:56 +0000 Former Stanford offensive skill position players had several strong performances this week around the NFL. Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin eclipsed the 100-yard mark receiving again this week while adding a touchdown throw. Philadelphia and New Orleans tight ends Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener both added touchdown catches and Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck led the Colts to a quick start and a win, headlining Stanford alumni’s offensive efforts. Seattle’s Richard Sherman, Stanford wideout-turned-cornerback, led the way on defense with an interception.

Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin caught four of his five targets for 104 yards. He also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Russell Wilson on a trick play. The trick play was set up by a 34-yard Baldwin catch-and-run on a broken 3rd-and-11 play in which Baldwin found open space as Wilson was scrambling around the pocket. The connection got Seattle down to the Philadelphia 26 yard line. Three plays later, Baldwin was sent in motion from the left side of the field and received the backwards lateral from Wilson. Baldwin faked as if it were and end-around run as Wilson leaked out towards the front left corner of the end zone. Baldwin was pressured, released the ball quickly across his body moving to his right to find an open Wilson, who dove into the end zone for the score. The Seahawks beat the Eagles 26-15 for their third straight win, improving to 7-2-1 overall.

Staying in the receiving corps, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz reeled in six catches for 35 yards, including a touchdown, on 11 targets. The touchdown came in with 14:13 left in the second quarter. Ertz took a few steps as if he were running a flat, then planted his foot and cut to the inside, where he caught the pass at the two yard line, lowered his shoulder against the defender and stretched the ball for the goal line. The Eagles, however, would fall to the Seahawks 26-15. Ertz also had a 57-yard touchdown catch on a screen that was called back due to an illegal formation.

Also at the tight end position, Saints player Coby Fleener caught three passes for 17 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown. The touchdown came with 2:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Drew Brees stepped back in the pocket and fired a bullet in the middle of the end zone to hit Fleener right out of his break on the curl route.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 262 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 15-for-28 showing that saw the Colts beat the Titans 24-17 as Indianapolis improved to 5-5 on the season. He also ran for 22 yards on eight carries. Both of Luck’s touchdown passes came in the first half, as he hit both wideout Dante Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton for two yard scores in the first and second quarters, respectively. Luck was placed in concussion protocol after the game, however, and his status for Indianapolis’ Thanksgiving tilt against the Steelers is in question.

Also on offense, the Packers’ versatile wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery ran for 17 yards on four carries while reeling in three catches for 27 yards, but the Packers fell to the Redskins 42-24.

On the other side of the ball, Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman led the way, contributing to the Seahawks winning effort with four tackles and an interception. His interception came with 9:56 to go in the third quarter as Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was being pressured at his own goal line. Wentz heaved the ball downfield into double coverage towards receiver Bryce Treggs. Seattle safety Earl Thomas was running in front of Treggs, while Sherman was running deep. The throw was slightly too far, and Sherman made the over-the-shoulder catch at the Seattle 35-yard line before being immediately dragged down by Treggs. The Sherman interception led to the aforementioned Baldwin catch and touchdown pass.

Also in the secondary, Browns safety Ed Reynolds got the start and played 100 percent of defensive snaps and over half of special teams snaps, logging five tackles. However, the Browns remain winless at 0-11. And Dolphins safety Michael Thomas registered two tackles in Miami’s 14-10 win over the Rams.

On the front seven, Packers linebacker Blake Martinez racked up five tackles, including one tackle for loss, before exiting the game against the Redskins due to a knee injury. Martinez was seen on crutches after the game, and reports say that he has a sprained MCL and is expected to miss several games.

In the same game, Redskins linebacker/defensive end Trent Murphy contributed two tackles, including a half tackle for a loss in the Redskins’ beatdown of the banged-up Packers.

Colts defensive tackle David Parry contributed to Indianapolis’ win with three tackles, including a sack, his second of the year.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Shayne Skov only saw one snap on defense and added 26 more on special teams, but made the most of his limited action by tallying two tackles in the Niners’ 30-17 home loss to the New England Patriots.


Contact Jamie MacFarlane at jamiemac ‘at’

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Men’s basketball batters Rams in defense-centered win Tue, 22 Nov 2016 22:07:45 +0000 Junior forward Dorian Pickens’ 17 points led Stanford men’s basketball (4-0) en route to a 56-49 victory over Colorado State (2-1) on Sunday night at Maples Pavilion.

Defense was the mantra of the match as both teams limited each other to season-low scoring outputs.

The Cardinal and the Rams shot 35.8 percent and 29.8 percent, respectively.

The first half was all Pickens. After 10 minutes of back-and-forth play, Pickens erupted with three three-pointers that spurred a 12-2 run, which put Stanford up by 13 with four minutes remaining. He finished off 4-of-6 from three-point land to go along with six rebounds.

Stanford used a pestering defense to force 11 Rams turnovers and allowed only seven made field goals.

The Cardinal led going into the halftime 35-23.

Coming out of the break, the Rams made defensive adjustments, which slowed down the motion offense of the Cardinal.

These adjustments along with poor shooting by the Stanford players fueled a second-half Colorado State rally. The Cardinal went through a stretch of eight minutes where junior guard Robert Cartwright had the only points with a three-point shot.

The cold spell helped the Rams diminish the Cardinal’s lead to six with three minutes remaining.

The lead would still be too much to overcome for the Rams as senior guard Christian Sanders scored four points in the final two minutes to ice the game for the Cardinal.

Coming into the matchup, the Cardinal offense averaged 81.0 points per game and 17 assists per game. The Rams’ physical defense limited them to 56 points and only 13 assists.

The Rams did a wonderful job on Stanford’s leading scorer Reid Travis. He managed just 11 points and five rebounds, which are below his season averages of 21.7 and 12.3, respectively.

Stanford remains unbeaten under new head coach Jerod Haase with a perfect 4-0 record to begin Haase’s campaign with the Cardinal.

Haase has preached ball movement on offense, which has reflected in the Cardinal scoring outputs, but the Rams were able to prevent the Cardinal well by forcing bad shots and 18 Cardinal turnovers.

“[Colorado State] certainly did a great job playing a very compact defense, but we also made some mistakes,” Haase said. “We didn’t capitalize on certain things. We need to make a few more open shots. The biggest thing is we need to get the ball inside.”

Cartwright had a career-high six assists to accompany nine points as he showed an array of nifty passes to the other Stanford players.

He gave credit to the Rams defense pressuring the ball handlers and closing the passing lanes.

“They made it tough for us to get the ball inside,” Cartwright said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to grow. We haven’t really been challenged this way. We have to find ways to win and we did that.”

Stanford is now 8-2 all time versus the Rams and have won the last eight matchups between the two programs.

The Cardinal will travel to Orlando, Florida, in a rematch of the 2015 NIT championship to take on Miami in the Advocare Invitational on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 11:30 a.m.


Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’

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Women’s basketball bullies Matadors in team win Tue, 22 Nov 2016 06:50:28 +0000 After getting upset by Gonzaga at home just two days prior, No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball (3-1) rebounded by trouncing the CSUN Matadors (2-2) 88-54 on Sunday.

The home victory featured strong team play, as half of the Cardinal’s points came off the bench and three players finished in double digits. Senior captain Erica McCall led both teams in scoring with a final tally of 17 points on a game that featured 33-of-69 team shooting from Stanford, which improved from registering only a 37.9 percent mark in its loss to the Zags.

“This is the kind of game we needed, a bounce-back from the other night,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Great team win. No one had to play too much … If we can play what I call tag-team, we’re getting a lot more off the bench from our post play.”

McCall was followed by 14-point efforts from junior guard Brittany McPhee and freshman forward Nadia Fingall, who went an impressive 7-of-8 from the field.

“She’s come along real well,” VanDerveer said of Fingall. “She listens, she works really hard at practice. She has a big, strong body … The biggest thing is, just the pace is faster than what high school is, so she’s adjusting to the pace.”

Recording her highest point and rebound totals in her first four games at the collegiate level, Fingall said that VanDerveer has encouraged her in practice to run the floor harder and that she puts in the time to catch up to college-caliber speed.

“You really don’t know what you’re getting into until you get [to college],” Fingall said. “So definitely just getting in, getting extra work with my coaches, asking questions and stuff has really helped getting the game to slow down.”

Defensively, Stanford effectively muted the CSUN three-point game, holding the Matadors to just three hits on 19 attempts. While the Cardinal allowed Gonzaga 61.5 percent efficiency from behind the arc last game, Stanford stymied the Matadors from that range in a 15.8-percent showing. The team also outrebounded them 52-29, with Fingall, sophomore forward Alanna Smith and junior forward Kaylee Johnson each notching seven boards.

The matchup was largely won by aggressive post play, with Stanford scoring 52 of 88 points in the paint.

“We’re excited about our post play,” VanDerveer said.

The team travels south to play in the Cancun Challenge against Northeastern, Wichita State and Purdue on three consecutive days starting on Thanksgiving morning.


Contact Tristan Vanech at tvanech ‘at’

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Women’s volleyball sweeps Arizona teams in final regular season road trip Mon, 21 Nov 2016 22:39:45 +0000 No. 12 Stanford women’s volleyball (19-7, 13-5 Pac-12) posted an undefeated weekend, taking down both Arizona State (9-20, 2-15) on Friday and Arizona (17-13, 9-9) on Sunday in straight sets to cap off its final road trip of the regular season.

In its game against Arizona State, Stanford captured the season series 2-0 as it recorded another sweep of the Sun Devils.

After trailing early in the first set, a 9-2 run put the Cardinal ahead, and they would not relinquish the lead. Led by .391 hitting and only nine total errors in the match, Stanford’s offense produced impressive results, dominating the second and third sets. Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Plummer led all players with 13 kills for the Cardinal, while fifth-year senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku, freshman middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris and senior outside hitter Ivana Vanjak chipped in with eight kills each.  

The Cardinal defense also outmatched Arizona State, out-blocking the Sun Devils 11 to 4 and out-digging them 43 to 34.  

Riding the momentum from Friday’s game, the Cardinal were firing on all cylinders in Sunday’s match, a rematch that tied the season series with Arizona 1-1. Plummer earned her team-best eighth double-double of the year as she racked up 15 kills and 10 digs in the game. Freshman setter Jenna Gray led the offense to a .263 attack percentage with her 39 assists.    

Stanford took advantage of 23 Wildcat hitting errors, especially in the first and third sets, to claim the win.  A close second set had Arizona leading by as many as five points, but the Cardinal were able to come back to capture that set 25-23 and cruise in the third to sweep.  

On the defensive end, the team held Arizona to a .121 attack percentage. Freshman libero Morgan Hentz delivered a particularly strong defensive effort, recording 21 digs, her most in a three-set match. Hentz has been a consistent performer this season, earning double-digit digs in all 26 games.   

The Cardinal now return to Maples Pavilion for the final week of the regular season. Home games against conference opponents No. 19 Oregon and Cal will be important in determining seed placement for the NCAA tournament in December. Stanford currently sits third in the Pac-12 behind Washington and UCLA and one game ahead of Oregon.  

Stanford will face Oregon this Wednesday at 7 p.m. The final game of the regular season will be against Cal on Friday at 5 p.m. Both matches will be available on Pac-12 Network.


Contact Laura Anderson at lauraand ‘at’  

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Cross country ends season with two top-five finishes Mon, 21 Nov 2016 22:36:27 +0000 Stanford men’s and women’s cross country placed second and fifth, respectively, in the NCAA Nationals last Saturday in Terre-Haute, Indiana for the final cross country race of the season.

This race marked the tenth time both teams have finished in the top five, and four Stanford runners (senior Sean McGorty and sophomore Grant Fisher for the men, and freshmen Fiona O’Keefe and Christina Aragon for the women) earned All-America honors. Fisher led the men with a fifth-place finish, while O’Keefe and Aragon placed 37th and 38th, finishing within the same second.

While the men scored 158 points and trailed Northern Arizona by 23 points, the Cardinal placed ahead of reigning-champion Syracuse, which finished third with 164 points. On the other hand, the women scored 255 points to conclude the team’s best performance since a third place in 2012.

During the men’s race, three runners (Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan and Syracuse’s Justyn Knight) broke away at 6K and finished on top. Although McGorty and Fisher chose to not follow this push, Fisher was able to catch up to the group during a phenomenal last kilometer.

“Things kind of blew open,” Fisher said. “Some people went and some people stayed. Pretty quickly there was a decent-sized gap. You could tell there were four that would hold that, but everyone else would be coming backward.”

Unable to catch up to the leading pack, McGorty secured the 24th place to contribute to the team’s effort.

“The consistency our team has now and where the team is headed in the future means more to me than any individual finish could,” McGorty said. “I’m not happy with my finish, but there are days like that in running. I’ll reflect on the season with Coach Milt and learn from everything.”

Head coach Chris Miltenberg was very satisfied with the performance of his runners, all of whom finished in the top 86 (except for freshman Thomas Ratcliffe, who was pulled from the race by his coaches).

“They kept bringing each other forward,” Miltenberg said. “I think it was all of them seeing each other during that period from 5K on, keeping each other up and fighting.”

On the women’s side, head coach Elizabeth DeBole was extremely proud of her team’s top-five finish for her first season as the helm of the program.

While Fraser did not have her best race and was unable to repeat her top-40 performance of last year, the freshman stepped up, and Fraser was still able to contribute to the team effort with a 67th-place finish.

“I didn’t feel good out there, but I put my best possible effort forward to help the team result, and I think a lot of the other girls would say the same about their races, which is why we had such a positive team result,” Fraser said. “We were able to scrap for places even when we didn’t feel great.”

This was the first time in 17 years that two Sanford freshmen earned All-American honors, which confirms the strength of the Cardinal recruiting class.

“[The coaches] really emphasized the fact that this is just another race,” Aragon said. “It helped us all go into it with the mindset that we are just going to do the same thing that we always do. It was really nice to have older teammates who had done this before and could show us how to stay relaxed and approach the race just like any other.”

Stanford now has its eye on the winter track and field season, which will begin on Jan. 16 in Seattle.


Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’

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