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Card dispatch Boston College with No. 1 Connecticut looming

(NATHAN STAFFA/The Stanford Daily)

The No. 6 Stanford women’s basketball squad (1-0) kicked off the 2014-2015 regular season with a convincing 96-63 win against ACC opponent Boston College (0-1).

Sophomore guard Lili Thompson had a career-high 26 points, while sophomore forward Erica McCall also set a new career-high with 16 points.

(NATHAN STAFFA/The Stanford Daily)
Sophomore guard Lili Thompson (center) notched her second 26-point game of the season in the victory over Boston College after putting up that total against Vanguard in the season-opening exhibition. (NATHAN STAFFA/The Stanford Daily)

“I think it’s just putting up shots before practice [and] after practice and just trying to remain consistent,” Thompson said. “The new offense is spread out a little bit more so I have to knock down those shots to not let people double up on Bird [McCall] or go in on Amber [Orrange].”

Though Thompson averaged 8.3 points per game last year, she has surpassed that average in all of her performances this year, with the 26 against Boston College matching the 26 that she notched against Vanguard in the team’s first exhibition. She also scored 10 points in an exhibition against UC San Diego.

Senior guard Amber Orrange contributed 11 points in Friday’s matchup and led the Cardinal with nine rebounds. In addition, she dished out 6 assists and had 3 steals throughout the game. The Cardinal’s other starting guard, senior Taylor Greenfield contributed 10 points.

In the first half, the Cardinal’s 49 points — 15 of which came from Thompson — and 63.3 percent field goal shooting reflected the team’s strong offensive performance. The Cardinal also played aggressive defense at times, forcing 13 turnovers and notching 9 steals.

Yet Boston College refused to go away easily; the Eagles shot 9-16 from behind the 3-point arc to keep the Cardinal’s lead within single digits and even tied the game 32-32 with 5:43 left in the first half after a 3-pointer by junior guard Nicole Boudreau.

Orrange, Thompson and sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson promptly scored 17 points during the rest of the half to help the Cardinal go into halftime with a 9-point lead, 49-40.

“I just thought we had to tighten up [and that] we weren’t being aggressive enough,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer about her team’s propensity for giving up 3-pointers. “I thought that if we could keep the pace up they’d lose their legs a little bit. We were too far off people and were helping too much.”

In addition to struggling to defend Boston College’s 3-point shooters, the Cardinal missed multiple layups and turned the ball over a few times when trying to push the pace of the game. The Cardinal posts also did not have a rebounding advantage over Boston College, with the Eagles finishing leading 17-16 in that category through the first half.

The Cardinal stepped up and played better defense in the second half, allowing Boston College to score only 23 points and hit zero threes. This defensive effort was complemented by Thompson’s and McCall’s combined 21 second-half points, which helped the Cardinal build a commanding lead and win by 33.

The Cardinal scored 48 points in the paint, points that not only came from post players but also from guards scoring off the drive. Bench points (31) were also a huge factor in Friday’s victory, indicating that perhaps the team has more depth than in previous years. Leading the bench scorers were Samuelson with 8 points and freshman Kailee Johnson, who notched 6 points.

The Cardinal have little time to rest before facing Geno Auriemma’s Connecticut Huskies Monday evening. While the Cardinal have lost seven out of the past eight games against Connecticut, including last season’s 75-56 loss in the Final Four, the Cardinal hold a 3-1 advantage over them at Maples Pavilion.

“We’re playing the same way we play any other game, with an attention to detail [and] with 100-percent effort from every player on the team,” Thompson said. “That’s how we go into every game regardless of who the opponent is.”

“I see it as a win-win for us,” VanDerveer added. “I know our team will really battle and that’s what we want — we want to see people doing the things that will give our team the chance to be successful. I think Monday we’ll come out and I’ll be very proud of how our team plays.”

The Cardinal will face the defending national champion and No. 1 Huskies tonight at 6 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.

Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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