By Arman Kassam
Closing out the regular season, Stanford women’s basketball (25-4, 15-3 Pac-12) demolished Washington (9-20, 2-15 Pac-12) at Alaska Airlines Arena yesterday. To a silent crowd of 2760, the 72-53 result marked Stanford’s sixth consecutive win after losing horribly to the apparently indomitable No. 3 Oregon (27-3, 16-2 PAC-12). As the Cardinal head into the quarterfinals, this recent flurry of wins has placed the squad back at a desired tempo.
The last confrontation between Stanford and Washington took place at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 18, and Stanford held enough of an advantage that the team started resting some of their regulars (key word: “some”). Naturally, senior forward Alanna Smith, who stands as a contender for every major trophy in the league and is a three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week this season, produced 27 points in 29 minutes. The other two titans on the team, sophomore guard Kiana Williams and junior guard DiJonai Carrington, scored 22 and 12, respectively. Barely breaking a sweat, Stanford beat the Huskies 91-54, shooting 48.1 percent to the Huskies’ 34.5 percent.
“I was really happy with how our team came out tonight, and I was really excited about how our bench finished,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer remarked after that game. “I think the best thing is from my perspective, no one got in foul trouble, no one got hurt and no one played more than 30 minutes. I think we’re just getting better and better.”
Needless to say, that Stanford was a different Stanford. The scars of grim losses had not yet shattered the seemingly immutable Cardinal win streak, which stood at 15 games back in mid-January. Yesterday, Stanford stood neck-and-neck with Washington on successful three-pointers (46 to 45 percent) and two-pointers (50 to 49 percent). The Cardinal were able to outperform the Huskies in the paint, shooting 39 percent to Washington’s 34 percent, but the Huskies gave the Cardinal a run for their money shooting off the bench at 36 percent to Stanford’s 24 percent.
Stanford took an early 22-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. The wide margin was maintained largely at the hands of the same heroes from the last bout against Washington: Smith, Carrington and Williams. Smith made 12 points and two assists in 22 minutes, Carrington made 19 points and one assist in 28 minutes, and Williams made 13 points and five assists in 32 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the trio have made up 63 percent of all Stanford points this entire season (they ended up with 61 percent for this past game). There really is no other way to describe the three: they are essentially a modern triumvirate. Even that shaky alliance between the intelligent Caesar, the popular Pompey and the wealthy Crassus, which changed the course of Rome, is probably insufficient to explain the success and finesse of these colossi on the court.
Beyond the three leading scorers, the Hull sisters came through in the second half; though inconsistent with three-pointers, freshman guards Lexie and Lacie Hull managed to rake in nine and five points, respectively. The Cardinal out-shot the Huskies in every quarter but the last, when Washington’s Haley van Dyke made 10 of the 14 points for her team (six of which came from three’s). The Cardinal now improves to 52-17 all-time against Washington.
Catch the next contest on the court on Friday, when Stanford will face conference opponents in the Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinals in Las Vegas.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.