Thompson gets women’s basketball back on track as Cardinal sweep Washington schools

Feb. 1, 2016, 12:22 a.m.

After playing six of its first eight conference games on the road and suffering a tough loss to UCLA last week, No. 16 Stanford women’s basketball (16-6, 7-3 Pac-12) rebounded with two home wins over No. 25 Washington (15-5, 6-3) and Washington State (12-9, 3-7) this weekend. Stanford first took down Washington 69-53 on Friday before dispatching Washington State on Sunday by a nearly-identical 69-52 margin.

Junior guard Lili Thompson led the charge offensively through a torrid shooting weekend, turning her game on to score a career-high 30 points after a slow first quarter on Sunday. It was part of a spectacular stretch in which she scored her season-best (27) on Friday, only to set a new career-high (30) on Sunday.

Overall, she shot 22-of-35 from the field and 10-of-14 from behind the arc over the two-game stretch.

On Friday night, the Cardinal dominated the Huskies, jumping out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter and even stretching the lead to as many as 22 behind Thompson. Thompson had great ball movement and made terrific efforts to get open, making all of her shots when they mattered. Thompson scored 27 points and shot 5-of-8 from the 3-point line in a stellar shooting night.

Thompson scored 17 points in the first quarter, shooting 5-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line in the period.

Sophomore Brittany McPhee came in off the bench and scored 10 of the team’s 14 points in the second quarter. Junior forward Erica McCall also kept up the scoring in the third quarter by contributing 10 of Stanford’s 12 points in the period. Freshman guard Marta Sniezek also notched a career-high 6 assists, while sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson earned a season-best 14 rebounds and matched her career-high with 4 assists.

Washington was on its heels defensively and was never able to gain control of the game. While national scoring leader and junior guard Kelsey Plum had a respectable 23 points, her efforts alone were not enough. Overall, Stanford shot 45 percent from the field, while Washington only shot at 25 percent, a season-worst for them.

Defensively, Washington began the game in a 2-3 zone, which had given the Cardinal a very difficult time in the brutal loss to UCLA. However, in this game, Stanford adjusted tremendously and broke UW’s zone defense, forcing the Huskies to play man-to-man. Overall, the Huskies could not keep up with the Cardinal attack.

Stanford played a strong defensive game as well, showcasing its athletic rebounding — Stanford had 38 defensive rebounds out of its total of 49 rebounds. Johnson, with 14 of those boards, made a massive impact on defense. Stanford’s tough defense has been an invaluable part of the team’s overall success: On average, Stanford has given up only 52 points per game in conference play.

On Sunday afternoon, the Cardinal won its eighth straight home game, defeating the Washington State Cougars 69-52. The Cardinal had a slow start to the game, and were down 18-11 in the first quarter, but at the start of the second quarter, Stanford found its rhythm and began to make baskets, led by Thompson. She scored 24 of her 30 points in the second half, and went 5-of-5 from the 3-point line in the final 20 minutes of the game.

McCall recorded another double-double, scoring 11 points and earning a season-best 14 rebounds for her 12th double-double this season. Junior forward Karlie Samuelson also scored 10 points. Along with McCall and Samuelson, Johnson earned 19 rebounds (nearly missing out on her third career 20-board game) along with 7 points.

Defensively, Washington St. put immense pressure on the Stanford guards, making it hard for the Cardinal to connect on offense. However, the Cougars could not maintain their level of play for the full game, and at the start of the second quarter, they began to fall behind. Freshman forward Borislava Hristova, who averages 17.7 points per game, was held to only 9 points.

“I think people worked really hard defensively,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “Lili guarded their number-one scorer, and she held her to half of her average. Lili’s giving us great effort at both ends of the floor, which is great.”

The Cardinal really regained their attacking rhythm and flow this weekend. The team’s passing was faster and sharper than it has looked in recent weeks, and the off-ball movement was dynamic. This made the team hard to guard and left players open for many good looks.

This coming week, Stanford will take on the Cal Bears in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Friday. Cal (11-10, 2-8) beat Washington State by three points, but lost to the University of Washington by 10 points earlier this season.

Cal only has two wins in conference play, and Stanford should be favored going into both games. For Cal, freshman guard Kristine Angiwe will be a main threat. She has been the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week seven times this year and averages about 20 points per game. However, Stanford’s strong defense, good shooting, and fast offense will be a tough matchup for the Bears.

The Cardinal take on Cal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at Maples, and then travel to Berkeley to play at 7 p.m. on Friday night.


Contact Kristina Bassi at kbassi ‘at’

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