No. 9 Stanford women’s basketball (13-3, 3-1 Pac-12) roared back this past weekend from a 49-31 loss to No. 14 Arizona State in its second game of Pac-12 play last week with a 72-52 win over Utah (11-4, 3-1) on Friday night. Sunday’s game wasn’t quite as comfortable of a victory, as the team fought Colorado (5-10, 0-4) from the opening minutes of the game for the 71-56 final score.
To rebound with a win against the Utes, junior point guard Brianna Roberson said that the keys to victory were “sticking with it and wearing them down. That loss [to ASU] was a learning lesson, and we didn’t sulk … We moved forward very well.”
Ultimately, it was the team’s depth that allowed Stanford to pull away from Utah after halftime and break open its largest lead of the game. Utah led by as many as six points – and for the majority of the first quarter – before Stanford started answering back.
“A lot of different people stepped up in the second half,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “So there were a lot of good contributions all around.”
The Cardinal made the necessary adjustments at the half to outscore Utah 25-12 in the third quarter, stretching the Cardinal’s 30-28 lead at halftime to 15 points midway through the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to run more [in the second half] and we got out in transition better. [Brittany McPhee] got us going. Rebounding, getting down the lane, shooting,” VanDerveer said. “We were scrappier in the second half.”
Roberson, typically the starting point guard, came off the bench, but didn’t miss a beat as she passed her way to a career best of 8 assists with only 1 turnover. She also contributed a career-high 3 steals.
“One thing the coaching staff stressed was ball movement. As a point guard if I see my teammates running I’m going to get the ball to them,” said Roberson. “It’s about the team pushing the ball and the team getting the great shot instead of the good shot.”
Passing played a huge role in the team’s victory as the Cardinal played patiently on offense, running through all of their options and utilizing the shot clock to hit the backdoor cutters and open players on the perimeter. VanDerveer stressed the need to push the tempo and utilize the team’s speed defensively as well as offensively, especially against a Utah team that matched the Cardinal’s quickness.
Sophomore guard Brittany McPhee, along with junior guard Lili Thompson led the Card with 16 points apiece, while junior forward Erica McCall recorded a double-double with her 11 points and 11 rebounds, along with 3 blocks.
On Sunday, the Cardinal were favored heavily after Colorado’s 64-35 loss to Cal, during which the Buffs had to play without leading scorer Jamee Swan to injury. The Buffs were certainly not lacking in talent on Sunday as the team led the Cardinal for 11 minutes of the first half. The game saw two tied scores and five lead changes as both teams played tenacious defense.
Stanford finished the first quarter matching Colorado at 14 apiece, despite the Cardinal shooting a low 33 percent from the field compared to Colorado’s impressive 75 percent. Stanford would then go on to outscore the Buffs 14-7 before the half.
Both teams came out firing in the third quarter. Thompson’s (12 points, 2 steals) energy, speed and scrappiness elevated the tempo of the game and allowed Stanford to maintain control until the end. Colorado, however, never let the lead stretch to more than 11 points until the final minutes of regulation. The Cardinal aggressively drove to the basket, put themselves at the foul line and took advantage of their 18 offensive rebounds to produce 20 second chance points and 30 points in the paint overall.
A different forward, sophomore Kaylee Johnson, stepped up on Sunday with a double-double of her own to lead the Cardinal with 17 points and 11 rebounds. McCall had another impressive performance with 16 points and 11 rebounds, her second double-double of the weekend. Overall, four Stanford players scored in double digits, proving the necessity of not just one player carrying the team, but of everyone taking accountability for the team’s performance.
“We came in focusing on the team, because that was the emphasis going into the game,” McPhee said.
The weekend series proved the parity of the Pac-12 early on this season as the Cardinal were forced to improve and make the necessary adjustments early and often in order to come out with the W’s.
The Cardinal will travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to face Oregon on Friday, before playing No. 11 Oregon State, picked at the start of the season to finish on top of the conference, on Sunday.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.