As senior Brittany McPhee celebrated her birthday last Friday in Maples, Stanford women’s basketball (10-7, 4-1 Pac-12) cruised to a 70-57 win over Washington State (8-9, 1-4) thanks to a double-double by senior Kaylee Johnson and a strong first quarter.
“Kaylee [Johnson] is one of the players on our team who consistently gets rebounds,” said junior forward Alanna Smith after the game. “We all look to Kaylee [Johnson] as a leader on the team, and she is a great example in that respect.”
The game was really a “story of two halves,” as head coach Tara VanDerveer puts it. The Cardinal hit the ground running to outscore the Cougars 45-17 in the first half, but turnovers limited the team late in the game as Washington State won the last frame 25-12.
“Our first half was great, and our second half we have to talk about,” said VanDerveer.
Offensively, Johnson led the charge with 10 points and 15 boards, while Smith was one rebound shy of a double-double with a game-high 20 points to go along with nine rebounds. McPhee and freshman Kiana Williams also finished with double-digits scoring at 12 and 15 points, respectively. On the Cougar side, Chanelle Molina had 19 points, including nine of her team’s 17 in the first half of the game.
“In my mind, [Williams] is not a freshman, she’s our starting two and ou backup one,” said VanDerveer. “She’s learning every game, she’s very coachable, she puts in extra time working on her shot. I think she’s doing extremely well.”
Stanford scored the first 10 points of the game behind a marked inside performance from Johnson. The senior grabbed the first five boards of the game, including two on offense. It took Washington State 3.5 minutes to get its first buckets and four to earn its first rebound.
After having been outrebounded by Arizona State last game for the second time since the season opener, the Cardinal were eager to crash the board on Friday.
“I think we were all disappointed with our last game so we were excited to get back on the court and take advantage of it,” said Johnson.
As a result, Stanford had 53 rebounds to Washington State’s 31. Midway through the second quarter, the Cardinal had collected 29 rebounds, eight of which were on offense.
Stanford finished the first quarter up 22-7, and continued to roll past WSU in the next period, during which they outscored the Cougars 23-10. During the first half, the Cardinal shot 61.8 percent from the field, while limiting their opponent to 22.9 percent.
Coming out of the locker room, WSU attempted to reverse the momentum, and managed to score 15 to the Cardinal’s 13 in the third quarter. While the two teams traded baskets throughout the period, Stanford’s shooting dropped to 23.8 percent, while the team went 1-for-6 from the stripe.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars came out firing with a 12-4 run to open the final period. WSU was active on defense, and gave the Cardinal offense a lot of trouble. Stanford struggled to find the open looks it had in the first half, and committed 9 turnovers in the fourth quarter only. These mistakes led to 10 WSU points of turnovers, and the Cougras capitalized on the bad passes to close the game with an 11-3 scoring spurt.
“I think we need to take care of the ball better,” said VanDerveer. “You know, we have a lead, but I don’t think it should matter what the lead is: you can either play against their defense or you can’t. We need to do a better job in the second half.”
Next, Stanford will host the Washington Huskies in Maples on Sunday at 3 p.m., before heading south next weekend for a rematch against the Los Angeles Pac-12 schools.
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.