By Inyoung Choi
While No. 6 Stanford’s (20-3, 9-2 Pac-12) 79-69 loss to No. 10 UCLA (20-2, 9-2 Pac-12) was disappointing, junior guard Kiana Williams dominated the court in the game against the Pac-12 competitor. At the Friday-evening home contest, Williams recorded a season-high 25 points. En route to Stanford’s highest scoring numbers, Williams also picked up another season best in the form of four 3-pointers.
Against the Bruins, she recorded a field goal average of .409, scoring on 9 of 22 attempts.
“Kiana made some great, big plays for us,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer.
Williams started off the game by securing the jump ball for the Cardinal. Less than three minutes into play, she sank a 3-pointer, compensating for senior forward Nadia Fingall’s missed attempt. She stunned the court with yet another one from behind the arc with just over six minutes left in the game. Eager to continue her hot streak, Williams quickly made back to back field goals when she netted a layup and then a 3-pointer with around four minutes left in the quarter.
Though Stanford started off with a lead, it ended with a 5-point deficit at halftime, trailing 35-30. UCLA’s star forward, junior Michaela Onyenwere, proved to be a formidable opponent. Onyenwere finished the game with a .625 field goal average and had scored more than one-third of UCLA’s points before the buzzer signaled the break.
Fortunately for the Cardinal, Williams seemed to make a comeback on offense after halftime.
“[When Williams] gets going and [is] really aggressive and gets in a rhythm, she’s tough to handle,” said UCLA head coach Cori Close. “We knew it would start and end with her.”
With four minutes left in the third quarter, Williams again found success at the hoop, narrowing Stanford’s four point margin with UCLA to 2 and putting the score at 44-42. Within 30 seconds of the crucial bucket, Williams picked up on Fingall’s defensive rebound to successfully score a 3-pointer. The score became 44-45, and it seemed that Stanford had seized its home court back from the Bruins.
Despite her shining success on the court that evening, perhaps Williams was worn out from pouring her energy into the 21 points she made by the end of the third period.
“Quite honestly, I think she got really tired,” VanDerveer said.
In the final quarter, Williams only made one out of eight field goal attempts.
While the 25 points she made that evening was a significant achievement, Williams’ greatest contribution during this game were her assists. Just past the halfway point of the first quarter, sophomore guard Lexie Hull successfully landed the ball in the basket off a pass from Williams. In the second quarter, freshman forward Fran Belibi netted a layup and sophomore guard Lacie Hull landed a 3-pointer, both with respect to assists by Williams. Williams demonstrated her abilities to react quickly on the court when she drove the ball to the basket and took the defense by surprise by launching it to Hull, who fired one from deep for three more points.
Even in the final quarter, as Williams fell short of reaching her fullest capacity in netting field goals, the junior – one of just two Stanford upperclassmen to score in the contest – supported freshman forward Ashten Pretchel’s layup and Lacie Hull’s three pointer. Williams had a hand in a total of eight assists in the battle versus the Bruins, falling two short of her career high 10 assists in a game against UCLA last year.
Williams has started all 23 of the games played by Stanford this season, and will likely start again for Sunday’s game against USC. The Cardinal are set to take on the Trojans at 12 p.m. PT in Maples Pavilion.