In a Sunday afternoon blowout at Maples Pavilion, No. 7 Stanford women’s basketball (2-0, 0-0 Pac- 12) dominated the Idaho Vandals (1-1) for four straight quarters, smashing the opposition by a final score of 115-71. The score posted by the Cardinal was the fifth-highest performance in school history.
The contest was defined by heavy three-point shooting from both sides of the court. The Vandals, known as a good three-point shooting team, attempted to make the Cardinal play their style of basketball, and played a zone defense that forced the Cardinal into outside shots. Their starting lineup consisted of four guards.
“They basically said, ‘Hey, beat us from the outside,’ and I think that was the plan,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer. “Our team responded really well, when they were in that zone we did a good job of getting on the offensive boards, we did a good job of moving the ball and getting good perimeter shots.”
The Cardinal ended the match taking 40 total threes, a staggering number for any team. They ended up making 16 of them, good for 40 percent behind the arc. Sixteen three-pointers tie the school record for threes made in a single game. They were paced by freshman forward Lexie Hull, who sank 5-8, and sophomore guard Kiana WIlliams, who shot 4-7.
Despite the disparity in final score, Idaho played tough the entire game, and remained in the first half due to their own incredible three-point shooting. They shot an incredibly efficient 15-24, good for 62.5 percent from behind the arc.
Idaho’s Taylor Pierce was second in the country in three-pointers made last season, but only contributed a single long ball, on three tries. The Cardinal immediately keyed onto the Idaho shooters, and played good defense against their best players. “I think Lexie Hull did a great job with [Pierce], as well as the different people that came in off the bench,” VanDerveer said after the game.
Idaho were led behind the arc by Janie King, who sank six three-pointers, and Gina Marxen, who sank five. At one point during the game, there was a ridiculous series of four possessions in which Marxen sank a three, the Cardinal ran the ball down the court and Lexie Hull sank a three, then Marxen drilled another, followed by Lexie Hull knocking down a fourth consecutive deep shot between the two.
With both teams shooting so well from distance, the difference came in interior shooting. Eventually figuring out the zone, and benefitting from solid ball movement and spacing, Stanford outscored Idaho in the paint 48-14. They also had 25 assists to Idaho’s 14.
“Our main focus was just moving the ball,” said Williams. “We knew they were going to play zone for a majority of the game, which they did, they played zone the entire game. Trying to make the defense shift, trying to get the ball to the open person because we have confidence in our shooters, that was our main focus.”
The Cardinal gained a 10-point lead just three minutes into the game, scoring a field goal on the first nine possessions of the ball game. This run was funded by an incredible rebounding effort, leading to second chance points. Stanford out-rebounded Idaho 46-15, absolutely crushing them on the glass. They scored 21 second chance points to the Vandals’ four.
Crucial to the Cardinal running up the score was the low post play of the team’s forwards. Senior Alanna Smith, junior Nadia Fingall, and sophomore Maya Dodson all dominated the smaller members of Idaho down low. They received dime passes from Williams, who had nine assists on the night, and made the most of them. Fingall shot 7-9 from the field with 16 points, Dodson was 5-8 with 10 points and Smith was 8-13 with 19 points.
Fingall said after the game, “They were leaving some spots open by packing in their defense, they left spots open that I was able to get to. I commend our team, for moving the ball really well and making those spots available.”
Smith absolutely schooled a defender with her exceptional footwork in the third quarter, and Dodson received the pass of the night from Williams, which nearly came from halfway across the court.
Idaho never managed to close that initial gap, as it continued to grow throughout the rest of the afternoon. Slowly but surely, the Cardinal took down the Vandals, as the Stanford reserve players began to come off the bench. For the second straight game, every single healthy Stanford player entered the game for some amount of time.
Smith’s final stat line consisted of 19 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one block and two steals. She and Williams led the team with 19 points each. Williams also accumulated four rebounds, nine assists and one block. Lexie Hull had 17 points, five boards, two steals and three blocks. Nadia Fingall contributed 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
The Cardinal will take on San Francisco this Thursday evening in the third game of their season-opening four-game home stand.
Contact Bobby Pragada at bpragada ‘at’ stanford.edu.