By Sally Egan
For just the second time this season, the No. 6 ranked Stanford women’s basketball team (17-2, 7-1 PAC-12) failed to look like an unstoppable force of nature, escaping Colorado 80-69 on Friday before falling to No. 21 Utah on Sunday by a score of 68-75. This was Stanford’s first loss in 11 games and their first loss to a Pac-12 foe.
Stanford started out their game at Colorado (10-9, 0-8 Pac-12) sluggishly, falling behind 28 to 36 to finish the first half. While Alanna Smith recorded four blocks in the first half, this was the only bright spot for a Cardinal team that was hoping to come in and dominate from the start. The slow start was due to an abysmal 26.3 percent shooting from the field and as well as going a shocking 0 for 13 on three-point shots.
“They were zero-for in the first half,” Colorado coach JR Payne noted. “[So] we knew they’d come out shooting threes in the third quarter.”
Payne was right, as several key three-point shots from Smith, Anna Wilson and Kiana Williams contributed to a 16-1 Stanford run which stretched for more than four minutes in the third quarter.
Overall, Stanford outscored Colorado 32-12 in the third quarter, giving them a 60-48 lead going into the fourth. The lag in production by Colorado could be attributed in part to the fact that injuries had led the team to having only eight players available for the game. Still, Colorado fought hard and outscored Stanford in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the strong Cardinal third quarter. Stanford ended up winning 80-69.
Despite Colorado losing, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer had only good things to say about the Buffaloes, who are still searching for their first PAC-12 win. “I thought Colorado played very hard,” VanDerveer said. “They are in a situation where they have a lot of kids hurt….They beat us three out of four quarters.”
After this Friday night win, Stanford then traveled to Utah (18-1, 7-1 PAC-12), where they were anticipating a much tougher matchup than Colorado. The game was just as much of a battle as expected, with lead changes and teams going on hot runs throughout the game.
Utah led the entire first quarter, but a 12-3 run by Stanford late in the second quarter kept the Cardinal in the game. The run brought Stanford to a three-point lead with just under 3:30 left in the first half, and featured key shots by Smith, Williams, Lexie Hull and Lacie Hull. Utah and Stanford then exchanged baskets several times, leading to Utah winning 32-31 going into halftime.
Both teams came out strong again in the third quarter, with Stanford taking a seven-point lead, its largest of the game, off an Alyssa Jerome three-pointer with just under seven minutes remaining in the quarter. Jerome scored nine points in the game, a career high. When Utah retook the lead with 1:39 left in the third quarter, they kept it for the rest of the game.
While the two teams were tied at 68 with a little more than a minute left, Utah’s Erika Bean hit a crucial three and Smith fouled out within 15 seconds. Stanford went on to miss their final three shots while Utah hit two free throws and a layup. The final score was 68-75.
There were some statistical positives in the game, as Stanford scored over ten points more than Utah had been allowing on average. However, the Cardinal couldn’t shut down Bean or Megan Huff, who scored 23 and 17 points, respectively. They also allowed Huff to have a season-high 13 rebounds.
Next, the Cardinal look ahead to a Thursday night game at Cal (13-6, 4-4 Pac-12) followed by a home game on Saturday at 4 p.m., also against Cal.
Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu.