By Sally Egan
The Arizona State University women’s basketball team had won nine of their previous 10 games going into their home game last Friday against Stanford. The University of Arizona was on an even hotter streak, winning 12 of their past 13 games going into their home game on Sunday against the Cardinal. Both teams left the weekend disappointed as Stanford continued to show dominance in wins against two of the stronger teams in the Pac-12.
Deflating the Sun Devils
Arizona State (12-4, 3-2 Pac-12) came into the weekend ranked 19th in the country and almost completed a comeback against the No. 6 Cardinal (14-1, 4-0 Pac-12), but Stanford put the game away in the fourth quarter. Thanks to a strong overall first half team performance, the Cardinal had a larger halftime lead (12 points) than ASU managed to score in total in either of its first two quarters. This was in part due to Stanford’s defense, which held ASU to an abysmal 28 percent shooting percentage in the first half. Alanna Smith and DiJonai Carrington both contributed 10 first-half points to help give the Cardinal the 34-22 lead.
The Sun Devils showed why they were a ranked team, coming back in the third quarter with 25 points to cut Stanford’s lead to one point. Led by senior Charnea Johnson-Chapman, who scored a career-high 16 points in the game, it seemed the home crowd would have the momentum going into the fourth quarter. However, an insane half-court shot at the 3rd quarter buzzer by Carrington immediately shifted the momentum back to Stanford.
“She practices it, so it wasn’t surprising,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said after the game. The shot proved to be the game-changer Stanford needed going into the fourth quarter. Starting with that three-pointer by Carrington, who finished the game with 17 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, the Cardinal went on a 9-0 run which proved to be too much for the Sun Devils. Stanford finished the game 14-14 on free throws, including 10 in the second half, which contributed significantly to the 72-65 victory.
Wildin’ out against the Wildcats
Coming off that win, Stanford faced another tough matchup in the University of Arizona (13-3, 3-2 Pac-12) on Sunday. The Wildcats had just completed a close victory over Cal, and were eager to prove that their strong record wasn’t a fluke. Yet from the beginning, the game seemed destined to be a Stanford victory.
Defensively, the Cardinal was unstoppable in the first half. Arizona was even worse shooting-wise than their in-state rivals had been, making only 19 percent of their field goals. Stanford also had 24 defensive rebounds and Smith contributed a massive seven blocks in this half. All of this led Arizona to score 12 in the first quarter and then only four in the second.
Meanwhile, Carrington and Smith picked up where they’d left off in Tempe, scoring 15 and 10, respectively, in the first half. Kianna Williams also had a strong first half, making both of her three-point attempts to contribute to her 10 points in the half, and had a team-leading four assists. Starting in the second quarter and going into the third quarter, Stanford went on a 27-0 scoring run to create a 37-point lead and ensure victory.
The Cardinal shut down the nation’s leading scorer, Aari McDonald, holding her to 17 points, significantly less than the 26 points per game she had been averaging. Another key to Stanford’s victory was its 22 points from off the bench.
As Smith pointed out, “Everyone’s a weapon, everyone’s a threat. That’s what makes it easy for us offensively because it opens the floor; it spreads it out.”
Overall, Stanford finished the day with a 78-48 victory, and the only time the Cardinal didn’t lead the game was when they were tied 0-0 with Arizona for the first 26 seconds.
The Cardinal look to extend their win streak to 10 straight next weekend when they play home games against the University of Washington (8-9, 1-4 PAC-12) on Friday and Washington State (7-9, 2-3 PAC-12) on Sunday.
Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu