After routing the Arizona Wildcats on Friday, the No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball team (13-5, 5-1 Pac-12) dropped its first conference game of the season on Monday to the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils.
Against the Sun Devils, Stanford suffered its largest scoring drought of the season after a horrendous first half on both ends of the court. The Sun Devils played tight and physical defense, making it difficult for Stanford to score and rebound. The Card went 7-24 on field goals and 2-10 on threes, while also only scoring 8 points in the paint. Stanford failed to defend the drive and shots from ASU’s post players. The Card also gave up 20 points in the paint and 15 second chance points, resulting in a 39-22 halftime deficit.
However, in the second half, Stanford came out as a completely different team: The Cardinal forced several turnovers (12 in the entire half) and went on a 24-8 run to pull within 1 point with 4:58 left in the game.
In addition to playing aggressive defense, Stanford shot 56 percent in the second half. Senior point guard Amber Orrange scored 10 of her 12 points in the second period, while sophomore guard Briana Roberson and sophomore guard Lili Thompson also contributed seven each in the half (totaling nine and 12, respectively for the game). Senior forward Taylor Greenfield notched 12 points on the night, while sophomore forward Erica McCall, who kicked off the weekend with her first career double double against Arizona, had another strong performance with 4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks and shutdown defense.
“I thought it was just the decision that we made mentally [that] we’re going to be gritty and we’re going to really set the tone on defense,” Roberson said. “I think we did a really good job of that in the second half.”
Despite pulling within one, Stanford once again faced difficulty scoring and allowed the Sun Devils to go on a 10-4 run, putting the Cardinal down by seven with 47 seconds left. After Roberson made a three-pointer with 23.2 seconds remaining, ASU missed the front end of a 1-and-1, leading to a jumper by Orrange with 12 seconds left that brought the Card within two. Stanford was forced to foul, and after Sophie Brunner of ASU made both free throws, the Sun Devils’ lead was increased to four. On the next play, Orrange took the ball down court and scored a layup with seven seconds left. However, after another intentional foul, leading to a 1-and-1 that ASU took only 1 point from, Stanford got the ball back with 2.6 seconds, but Orrange’s last-second heave from beyond midcourt fell short.
“I thought Arizona State really came in ready to play,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “They really took it to us in the first half.”
Along with poor defense and shooting percentages, Stanford also got destroyed on the boards throughout the entire game. Stanford was outrebounded 24-10 in the first half, and 44-22 for the entire game.
“Our small line-up without two real posts in there I thought really got exposed,” VanDerveer said. “Their [ASU’s] rebounding was the real big difference.”
This game marked the third time in four games in which the Cardinal found themselves down by a significant margin in the second half. In the two previous games, against Washington and Washington State, Stanford was able to pull out impressive comebacks. Despite fighting back to win those games, the Cardinal learned in its matchup against ASU that no matter how strong of a second half they play, not all deficits – especially one as wide as 17 points – can be overcome. Moving forward, the squad will have to play full 40 minutes of basketball with as much energy, grit, and determination as they showed in the second half of the matchup.
Friday’s game against Arizona, on the other hand, did not contain as much thrill, or disappointment, as Monday’s contest did.
Five players scored in double figures as the Card demolished the Wildcats in its 77-47 win against Arizona. Despite pulling within eight twice in the first half, the Wildcats would not get any closer than that. Thompson, Roberson and McCall led the Card’s effort and Stanford went up by as many as 21 before ending the half with a 41-24 lead.
The second half was a continuation of the Card’s dominance: Stanford led by as much as 33, thanks to contributions from eight different players. Both Samuelson sisters continued to contribute from behind the three-point arc: Senior forward Bonnie Samuelson went 4-7 from three-point range and ended the game with a team-high 14 points, while her younger sister, sophomore guard Karlie Samuelson, went 4-5 from deep, while also notching 4 assists. Sophomore guard Briana Roberson scored 12 points and dished out 5 assists.
The Cardinal does not have much time to dwell on Monday’s loss and will continue its conference slate this weekend. Despite a tough game tonight, the team will seek to learn from the loss.
“The second half of this game showed us just how good we could be when we play with energy and play defense the way we did,” Orrange said. “So I think we can take that and use that in the future.”
The Cardinal will look to get back on track as they make a trip to Southern California this weekend to face UCLA on Friday, January 23 at 7 p.m., followed by USC on Sunday, January 25 at 5 p.m.
Contact Alexa Phillippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.