It was time for Haley Jones to take over the game. The freshman has been considered the second-string point guard by head coach Tara VanDerveer, but with junior Kiana Williams neutralized, Jones found herself on the ball and in control in the second half.
Jones led all scorers with a career-high 21 points and also paced her team with 11 rebounds and four assists for her first career double-double. Making the third quarter her own, Jones accounted for half of Stanford’s 16 points, including a late elbow jumper to give her team its first lead since early in the second quarter — a lead it would not surrender.
“Haley really stepped up for us tonight, and we really count on our four freshmen,” said sophomore guard Lexie Hull.
Coming off the first loss of the season, No. 5 Stanford (11-1, 0-0 Pac-12) overcame a halftime deficit to down familiar foe UC Davis (4-8, 0-0 Big West) 67-55. The two teams met twice last season, including in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Jones, of course, was not on the court for either of those two games.
“This will get everyone’s attention on playing better defense,” VanDerveer said. “We stepped up in the second half and Haley made some nice plays. She came to play. Defense was the difference.”
The excellent third quarter from Jones and the 10-1 Cardinal run to close it out was only necessary because of the Aggies’ first-half efforts. After Stanford sprinted to a 17-7 lead, UC Davis outscored the Cardinal 21-5 and held a two-point advantage at the break. Stanford’s 11-point second quarter was the second-lowest scoring quarter of the season, behind a 10-point frame in the loss to Texas.
Davis held a 21-14 first half advantage in rebounds, including 8-3 on the offensive boards, to propel a 7-0 margin in second-chance points. In the third quarter, Stanford reversed course to out-rebound Davis 11-5 overall and 5-1 on offense.
“In the first half, we couldn’t really get going,” Hull said. “I’m proud of our fourth quarter and how we came back today.”
Stanford has struggled when opponents are accurate from beyond the arc, and that was the case with the Aggies 7-of-12 at halftime and the Cardinal just 1-of-6. Evanne Turner scored 12 of her team-high 15 points in the first 20 minutes, and was 5-for-8 from distance for the contest. Behind her, Katie Toole tallied 13 points on 3-for-3 from deep.
Improved perimeter defending in the second half, led by senior guard Anna Wilson, held Davis to just eight 3-point attempts. Being aggressive was a point of emphasis for VanDeveer in the halftime locker room.
“Anna Wilson did a really good job of getting that going for us on the defensive end,” Lexie said.
“We still didn’t box out well enough in the first half and our [offensive] pace was not fast enough,” Jones said. “We came out in the second half with a lot of defensive intensity. Anna [Wilson] came out with a lot of fire and heart and when she gets going, we all feed off her energy.”
Wilson’s two steals may have been as important as her nine points in 27 minutes, her second most of the season.
In 33 minutes, Williams, Stanford’s second leading scorer, was 1-for-5 with two points, allowing Jones to assume a larger role. Hull, averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game, was limited after picking up a fourth personal foul in the third quarter, but connected on 2-of-4 treys in the fourth quarter to finish with 14 points.
“I was really frustrated getting that fourth foul,” Hull said. “I just had to really focus and keep my hands back.”
Senior forward Nadia Fingall was an efficient 5-of-7 for 11 points and four rebounds. Sophomore guard Lacie Hull was 2-for-3 from the field, drained her only 3-pointer, hauled in five rebounds and dished out three assists.
Freshman forward Fran Belibi recorded three blocks in the last three minutes of the first half. As a team, Stanford controlled the paint with eight blocks and a 32-18 advantage in points in the paint. The Cardinal had 14 turnovers to the Aggies’ 20, but went 24-7 in points off turnovers.
Stanford will host Washington State in its Pac-12 Conference opener on Friday at 7 p.m. PT.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.