In its last home game of the season and on the team’s Senior Night, Stanford women’s basketball (20-8, 12-4 Pac-12) dropped its second game in of the season series against the California Golden Bears (20-7, 12-4), 63-53.
The loss marked the first time in 15 years that the Stanford Cardinal will not win the regular season Pac-12 conference title. No. 7 Oregon State clinched at least a share of the title when it beat Utah earlier on Sunday.
The silver lining of the loss was a breakout performance by freshman guard Brittany McPhee, who notched a career-high 24 points and gathered 6 rebounds in 36 minutes of action.
“She wasn’t a one-game wonder,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer, referring to McPhee’s strong performance against Cal when the two teams matched up on Wednesday. “I think she has [earned a chance to start].”
The Card’s issues can be boiled down to the following: turnovers, fouls, 3-point defense, little offensive productivity from most of the team.
Despite not scoring in the first half, senior point guard Amber Orrange got her offensive flow going in the second half, in which she scored all of her 11 points. Yet she and McPhee were the only Stanford players to score more than five points throughout the entire game.
Another factor that hurt the Card’s offense was the team’s 17 turnovers. Many of these turnovers came from shot clock violations, in which Cal played tough defense and prevented Stanford from driving to the basket or putting up shots.
While the Card struggled to get their offense going, Cal went 8-of-19 on threes, including 5-of-11 in the first half. Cal’s 3-point shooting was not a factor in the teams’ previous matchup, in which the Bears went 4-of-20 behind the arc.
Although few fouls were called in the first half, the second half was largely determined by Cal’s ability to get to the free-throw line. Although Stanford did not play much more aggressively after halftime, the team was called for 14 second-half fouls, giving Cal 20 free throw attempts after it had not shot from the line at all in the first half.
Instead of focusing on her team’s defensive efforts or poor officiating, VanDerveer was more disappointed in her team’s failure to attack the basket.
“The disparity in free throws is something we have to be much more aggressive [about] and keep attacking the basket and get to the free throw line,” VanDerveer said.
The game was tied with just under 15 minutes to go in the first half before three straight 3-pointers from Cal put the Bears ahead by nine at the 12:39 mark. The Card went on an 18-6 run, which included six baskets by McPhee, to go up by three before they eventually ended the half up by two, 29-27.
Despite this halftime lead, Stanford only led for 1:05 in the second half. Brittany Boyd, Reshanda Gray and Mercedes Jefflo combined for all 36 of Cal’s second-half points after they did not contribute much in the first half: While Jefflo scored 6 points, Gray had only one basket and Boyd was scoreless. The Card was down by seven with nine minutes to go in the game before five straight points by McPhee and a layup by Orrange tied the game with 7:07 on the clock. This stretch marked the closest the team would get to taking the lead, as Cal eventually pulled away off of their free throws and Stanford’s poor shooting.
Stanford will take on Oregon State and Oregon on the road in its two final regular season matchups this Thursday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 1 at 1 p.m.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.