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Women’s basketball dominates at Rainbow Wahine Showdown

No. 8 Stanford remains undefeated on the season after securing three weekend victories

Junior forward Nadia Fingall (#4 above) recorded a career high 24 points against FGCU during the first day of the Rainbow Wahine invitational. (KAREN AMBROSE-HICKEY/isiphotos.com)

While students across campus headed home for the holiday, Stanford women’s basketball spent its Thanksgiving in Hawaii, competing in the Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu. The team took on the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles on Friday, the American University Eagles on Saturday and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Sunday, emerging from the weekend with three wins. The Cardinal are currently undefeated on the season.

In a game reminiscent of last season’s second-round playoff game, the No. 8 Cardinal (6-0) defeated Florida Gulf Coast University (4-2) 88-65 on opening day. 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 (five) and assists (five). 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 three-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 three-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 three-pointers. The Cardinal, meanwhile, found their beat in the second half, shooting 51.7 percent from the field (30-58) and 50 percent from distance (11-22) by the end of the game.

In day two of the showdown, Stanford improved their undefeated season record with a 71-49 victory over American University (3-3). Led by Alanna Smith’s career-high 25-point performance, the Cardinal produced 26 points in the fourth quarter to take down the Eagles.

Stanford and American clashed Saturday afternoon on less than 24 hours of rest. Smith, who was held to a season-low six points on Friday, shot 10-18 from the field and 3-6 from the distance for a total of 24 points on Saturday. She also led the team in defensive rebounds, grabbing seven boards. In Saturday’s contest, Fingall contributed 10 points, shooting 3-8 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe. She also grabbed five boards. Kiana Williams produced nine points and a team-leading seven assists. DiJonai Carrington had a fantastic game on both sides of the court. Carrington combined 6-7 from the field and 1-1 from the stripe for 13 points in a performance that also included seven rebounds.

“I thought DiJonai was a real big difference for us,” Tara VanDerveer said. “She got that post-up, she got that offensive board, she made a free throw, she made that really nice pitch, so I thought she played really well. I’m very happy with how she’s playing.”

The Cardinal led by as many as 12 points in the first half, which saw the Cardinal produce 30 points to the Eagles’ 23. By halftime, Smith racked up 10 points and four rebounds. The Cardinal only shot 32 percent from the field (10-31) to the Eagles 35 percent (9-26).

American kept the game close through the third quarter, shrinking the Cardinal’s lead down to six points by the end of the third. However, the wear and tear of two games in two days began to settle in for the Eagles when the Cardinal’s stamina was on display in the fourth. Stanford pulled away in the final quarter, scoring 26 points to the Eagles’ 10. The Cardinal women shot 60 percent from both the field (9-15) and the arc (3-5) in the final quarter, putting the game out of reach for the Eagles.

“We haven’t really played in that many tournaments where we’re playing two games in two days, so this will be a real challenge for us, I think, and just not having enough rest time and enough prep time,” American head coach Megan Gebbia said. “I mean, I thought we did a good job with the time that we had, but I think we were tired, and I don’t play a ton of people — I think I go about eight deep — so you could see like in the fourth quarter it wearing on us.”

Eight of the 12 women who saw playing time contributed points to the Cardinal’s win. Others found different means of making an impact, including freshman forward Lacie Hull, who had a spectacular night despite shooting 0-3 from the field and 0-1 from the distance. Hull set a personal career high for both minutes played and steals. She accumulated seven steals in 33 minutes.

In the third and final game on Sunday, Stanford concluded the weekend’s play with a dominant 81-59 win over host Hawaii as the Cardinal swept the three-day, three-game showdown. In the final minute of the game, junior guard Anna Wilson was injured in a game-ending fall that lead to a trip to the hospital. According to the team’s Twitter account, Wilson’s scans came back clear on Sunday evening, allowing her to travel home with the team on a red-eye flight.

While playing defense, Wilson was accidentally tripped up and fell backward, hitting a chair, according to Tara VanDerveer, who said, “She kind of got tripped up a little bit and fell back into the chair, so we’re all very concerned about her health and pray for her to be healthy. She’s a great young lady, and for all of our team, it kind of dampens the three games that we played and obviously the game that we played today against Hawaii.”

Wilson’s injury occurred with 48 seconds on the clock. She laid on the floor for roughly 20 minutes while medical personal attended to her. Recognizing the severity of the injury, the officials and coaches decided to end the game, giving Stanford their third win in three days. Wilson was taken to the hospital after medical personal were able to stabilize her neck. 

“Our number-one priority is Anna Wilson’s health, and I think what happened is just unfortunate,” said VanDerveer. “In the last minute of the game, people are playing hard, and there was nothing involved except for just an accident.”

Hawaii’s head coach, Laura Beeman, said, “You never want a player to get injured. I don’t care how the tournament ends up; I don’t care how that game ended; I think it was the right call to end the game. Obviously we’re concerned about her safety, and that’s all that I can say. We’ll just keep her in our thoughts and prayers and hope that she’s all right.”

Freshman forward Lexie Hull has been injured with a leg injury recently, putting her out of commission for this weekend’s showdown. Wilson was charged with stepping up in place of Hull. According to the VanDerveer, it’s too soon to tell how Wilson’s injury will affect the starting lineup.

Despite the unfortunate ending to the game, several Cardinals had strong showings yesterday. Alanna Smith scored a career-high 30 points, just one day after setting a personal best with 25 points against American University.

Both teams started the game off on slow start. The Cardinal opened the game shooting just 5-14 from the field and 0-7 from the arc. The Cardinal put up 15 points in the first quarter in a sub-par performance while the Rainbow Warriors only posted single digits in the 10-minute period, shooting 3-12 from the field and 2-2 from the distance. The Cardinal went on a 9-0 run to finish the quarter with a 15-8 lead.

Stanford stepped up its performance in the second quarter, scoring 25 points to build a substantial 40-22 lead that the Rainbow Warriors would not be able to close for the remainder of the game. Hawaii found its beat in the second half, matching Stanford’s 24 points in the third quarter. Stanford posted 17 points to Hawaii’s 13 in the final quarter, finishing the game with a 22-point lead.

Dijonai Carrington contributed 12 points and four assists while Nadia Fingall recorded a team-leading six rebounds. Hawaii gave up 17 points on 19 turnovers while Stanford only gave up 13 turnovers.

The Cardinal improved their all-time record against Hawaii to 10-0. The team will monitor Wilson’s health as the Cardinal transition to preparing for Gonzaga next Sunday.

 

Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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