Maples was rocking after a heat-check 3-pointer from junior guard Kiana Williams late in the third quarter provided No. 6 Stanford women’s basketball (20-3, 9-2 Pac-12) its first lead in 15 minutes. Before the ensuing Bruins’ timeout, the junior guard was 8-of-12 from the field, but finished on a 1-for-10 skid as it all collapsed in what would become Stanford’s second loss in conference play.
Michaela Onyenwere and Japreece Dean connected on back-to-back layups for the Bruins. Meanwhile, the Cardinal were held scoreless and turned the ball over five times, including an opportunity to cut the deficit to one on the last possession. The shot clock violation and lackadaisical defense allowed Chantel Horvat a cakewalk under the rim, and the home side was chasing five.
Stanford was never able to cut the deficit below four for the remainder of the contest. For just the second time this century, No. 10 UCLA (20-2, 9-2 Pac-12) left Maples Pavilion with a victory, having taken care of the Cardinal 79-69.
“We just didn’t lock down defensively like when we needed to,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “Ended the third quarter giving them a layup. You know, people just stopped playing. I don’t know, that was really disappointing.”
The weaknesses exposed throughout the season were on display on Friday night. The lack of depth, specifically in terms of upperclassmen presence, an inability to match up with the opponent’s best option and turnovers all contributed to a demoralizing home defeat. Of the seven scoring Stanford players, five were freshmen or sophomores.
“UCLA is an excellent team,” VanDerveer said. “They took it to us.”
Onyenwere, who had 29 points, was just the latest offensive threat to find success against the Cardinal defense. Already on that list were Sabrina Ionescu’s 37, Destiny Slocum’s 26, Jaylyn Sherrod’s 21, Chanelle Molina’s 27 and Charli Collier’s 20. Stanford had been lucky that just two of those performances, at Texas and at Oregon, turned into losses, but UCLA handed the home side its first Maples Pavilion defeat in demoralizing fashion.
The Bruins star shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, 6-of-8 at the line and hauled in 10 rebounds.
“She’s kind of a ‘tweener,” VanDerveer said in regards to Onyenwere’s impressive versatility. “She’s a post player, but she can shoot a three. She’s very athletic … She’s an all-Pac-12 player.”
Reflected by the way in which Stanford’s points were largely dispersed among its younger players, just 36.5% of Stanford’s minutes were played by juniors or seniors. More than half belonged to Williams alone.
“They have juniors and seniors that are playing well for them,” VanDerveer said. “That’s what it takes in this league to be good.”
Stanford shot 5-for-6 from deep in the first quarter yet finished the game 8-of-23. On the other side, UCLA was able to overcome its own 3-for-18 3-point woes.
The full-court press from UCLA gave Stanford fits, which began to show in the second quarter as the Cardinal were limited to 2-of-12 from the floor until a last-second 3-pointer from sophomore guard Lacie Hull .
Down five at halftime, Stanford came out of the locker room in a 2-3 zone. As Stanford became comfortable running the zone, it held UCLA scoreless over four minutes on 0-of-5 shooting.
VanDeveer continued to experiment with a small lineup of Williams, freshman guard Hannah Jump, freshman forward Fran Belibi and sophomore guard Lexie Hull and sister Lacie. At the moment, Stanford has just four healthy forwards, so during pregame warmups, junior guard Estella Moschkau worked with the group.
“We had to mix it up on them,” VanDerveer said. “We went small and it was helpful, we went in the zone and it was helpful. We’re down five going into the fourth quarter, and we just couldn’t get over that hump again.”
In the fourth quarter, with the game theoretically in reach, the offense deteriorated for a 1-of-11 stretch. Freshman forward Ashten Prechtel finished 0-for-6 from beyond the arc and 5-of-17 overall, though she did add 12 rebounds. Lexie was 2-of-8 from the field and senior forward Nadia Fingall was scoreless on three shots. Only Lacie’s 3-of-4 from distance for 12 points and six rebounds drew praise from her coach.
For the first time since injuring her right leg against Oregon State, freshman guard Haley Jones was seen on the bench, alongside injured senior guard DiJonai Carrington and junior forward Maya Dodson. Of the three, VanDerveer said Dodson was the closest to a return.
UCLA, which leads the conference in free throw attempts, tacked on 24 at a 75% clip on Friday. Stanford, on the other hand, shot 9-of-16 from the charity stripe. The Bruins held a 12-point margin in points off turnovers and won the game by a 10-point margin.
The Cardinal donned warm-up shirts with eight and 24 on the front and, on the back, the names of all nine victims of the tragic accident that recently claimed the life of NBA legend, Kobe Bryant. The Cardinal home game occurred in the shadow of the horrific news.
“UCLA got blasted by Arizona and they came back with a big win,” VanDerveer said. “We’re gonna need to come back against USC and play really well against them.”
Tip-off is set for Sunday at 12 p.m. PT against the Trojans.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.