By James Hemker
Last season, Buffalo forced Stanford to play tough for all 60 minutes, with the Cardinal escaping New York victorious 62-55 behind 30 points from Alanna Smith ’19. This past Sunday, third-ranked Stanford showed it had learned from the previous outing, as the team lead the Bulls wire-to-wire in the 88-69 victory.
Though Buffalo (4-2, 0-0 MAC) never had a lead, the win was still hard-fought for Stanford (5-0, Pac-12 0-0), who went into the locker room at halftime up by just three points. A 28-point third quarter then broke open the floodgates, leading to a 53-point second-half performance.
Sophomore guard Lexie Hull paced the team with 21 points, including 11 in the fateful third. The game marked Hull’s third 20-point outing this season. After being sideline by injury last year, the former five-star recruit from Washington has catapulted herself to the top of the team’s scoring charts. Averaging 17.1 ppg, Hull is on pace to eclipse her freshman points total in just nine games.
Hull doesn’t think her role in the team has changed all that much from last year. The real difference is just the fact that the offense is flowing better. Shooting almost 58% from the floor, she has been able to efficiently convert the open looks she gets.
“I think we are doing a really good job of finding the open shooter,” Hull said. “In those three games, I’ve been able to just take advantage of that.”
After six total points through 20 minutes, freshman forward Ashton Prechtel found her groove in the post, ending the night with 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
“Ashton came in with a lot of confidence, which we really need,” Hull explained. “Wanting to be able to shoot from the outside, she pulls people in. She’s also really good at passing and finding the open shooter on the perimeter.”
Buffalo runs an unorthodox defense, which caused Stanford trouble early on. The team shot 41% from the field and 31% from deep through the first two quarters, which is about 10 points below their season averages.
Changes at half time, including setting screens against the Bulls’ zone and looking more into the high post allowed the offense to come to life. The Cardinal made 60% of their shots from the floor and went 7-for-17 from deep in the final two periods. Junior guard Kiana Williams thrived with the changes, posting nine of her 14 points in the fourth.
In addition to their versatility, the sheer depth of the Cardinal was on display Sunday afternoon. The bench accounted for half of the points scored, including five of the team’s 12 three-point shots. Freshman guard Hannah Jump hit two critical three’s at the end of the second quarter to give Stanford a chance going into half time.
Junior guard Estella Moschkau — who did not play at all last game — came off the bench in the fourth and hit both of her shots from distance in the right wing to ice the game.
“I need to give a big shoutout to Estella,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer. “She comes in and hits two big three’s for us. She’s been working really hard in practice, and that’s what we need from everyone.”
Stanford will next travel to Canada for the Victoria Invitational. Their first round match against Cal Baptist will start at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 28.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.