In a game reminiscent of last season’s second-round playoff game, No. 8 Stanford (4-0) defeated Florida Gulf Coast University (2-2) 88-65 on opening day of the Rainbow Wahine Showdown on Friday. Junior forward Nadia Fingall recorded a career-high 24 points as the Cardinal outlasted the Eagles.
Fingall shot 11-14 from the field, 1-2 from behind the arc and 1-4 from the stripe in her 30 minutes of play, leading the team in points (24), offensive rebounds (5) and assists (5). With senior forward Alanna Smith in foul trouble early on in the game, Fingall stepped up as a major contributor. Sophomore guard Kiana Williams also produced 17 points, while junior guard DiJonai Carrington scored 16 of her own.
“This wasn’t Alanna’s best night so other people stepped up for her,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I thought we had a great game from Nadia Fingall; she really stepped up and scored inside.”
To start the game, the Cardinal gave up two quick layups to the Eagles, which would become the Eagles’ largest and only lead of the game. Stanford responded with a 12-0 run, including 3-pointers from Williams and Fingall.
Williams had a spectacular day from behind the arc. The 5’8” sophomore from San Antonio, Texas, shot 5-8 from downtown, only one short of her career-high. As a team, the women were 11-22 from the distance.
“Our 3-point shooting was really good,” VanDerveer said. “Eleven for 22, you’d take that every game. I thought the key really was just people playing hard the whole game and doing a better job in the second half of taking care of the ball and making good decisions.”
At the half, the Cardinal produced 38 points, including 11 points from Fingall, who was 5-6 from the field at the time. The Cardinal also gave up nine turnovers, which contributed 19 points to the Eagles’ 34 total produced in the first two quarters.
After a few missed shots for Stanford to start the second half, two layups from Florida’s Nasrin Ulel brought the game within one with 8:48 left in the third quarter. The Cardinal responded with an 8-0 run, including five points from Carrington, bringing the score to 38-47 with 6:35 left in the quarter. The Cardinal maintained a healthy lead for the remainder of the game. Excellent shooting from the key players gave Stanford a 15-point advantage by the end of a quarter that saw the Cardinal produce 29 points to Florida’s 18. The score was 67-52.
The third quarter alone included some of the Cardinal’s best shooting and defense of the day. The Cardinal shot 9-14 from the field and 2-5 from the arc, driving a second half electric performance to which Florida could not find a response.
“I thought we had great energy and I thought we played really well for a good portion of this game and then unfortunately I thought our pace let down in the second half. When all of a sudden [Stanford] got a little bit of a lead, I didn’t think that we had the mindset or the attitude to fight to get back in it,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Karl Smesko said. “I’m encouraged by about half of this game, because we played really well against a great team. We just have to eliminate the other half.”
The Cardinal went on to produce 21 points in the fourth, while the Eagles limped through the final quarter on 13 points, giving up nine points on turnovers to Stanford. Florida Gulf Coast concluded the game shooting only 36.5 percent from the field (23-63) and 26.3 percent from the arc (10-38), which is a season-low for the Eagles, who set an NCAA Division I single-season record last season after making 431 3-pointers. The Cardinal, meanwhile, found their beat in the second half, shooting 51.7 percent from the field (30-58) and 50 percent from the distance (11-22) by the end of the game.
Although victorious in their first game of the tournament, the Cardinal will need to address their 17 turnovers ahead of this weekend’s play.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu