VanDerveer leads women’s basketball to Washington sweep

Jan. 30, 2017, 12:06 a.m.

In a statement weekend, No. 10 Stanford women’s basketball (18-3, 9-1 Pac-12) took care of business during their latest road trip. The Cardinal women defeated both Washington conference rivals, first in a 76-54 Friday blowout at Washington State (9-12, 4-6) and later in an 18-point rally against the No. 7 Huskies (19-3, 8-2) to finish 72-68 on Sunday, ultimately solidifying their position as co-conference leaders.

Stanford entered into Pullman and immediately continued its momentum from last weekend’s matches, quickly nabbing another first-half lead. The team knocked down 59.3 percent from the field, holding the Cougars to only eight buckets in the first half. The Cardinal owned a 41-24 halftime lead yet continued with intensity in the second half, ultimately marching to a comfortable victory.

Sunday night provided more of a test for the Stanford women. The Kelsey Plum-led No. 7 Washington Huskies were the highest-ranked team in the Pac-12 when they took the court Saturday. Stanford found itself in the hole early, down 18 with four and a half minutes left in the first half. The Cardinal finally awakened in the second half and continually chipped at Washington’s lead until finally claiming it for their own with a little over one minute left in the game.

Stanford’s four-point lead to finish the game was the Cardinal’s largest lead on the night. Head coach Tara VanDerveer’s women got hot when it counted, willing themselves to victory on the night.

Senior guard Briana Roberson scored all 14 of her points while leading the Cardinal’s second-half heroics in Seattle on Sunday. She took charge of the offense down the final stretch, attacking the basket while also pulling up for three three-pointers.

When asked about her mentality during her scoring spree, Roberson joked, “Shoot. Tara [VanDerveer] is literally in my ear saying, ‘Bri, look at the basket. Bri, look at the basket.’ So, I did what she said. They were falling, and it was just great. It was a great team win.”

Samuelson once again had a huge hand in Cardinal successes this weekend, scoring 16 and 10, respectively, on the weekend, while draining 4-of-9 from the three against Washington State on Friday. The prolific shooter ranks third nationally in career three-point field goal percentage at 49.3 percent. The increased space all around the court for Stanford’s paint offense facilitates much of the Cardinal’s offensive plan.

“I think we had really good ball movement from the start,”  Samuelson commented to the Pac-12 Network postgame, following her stellar performance Friday night. “We had that one play where someone drove in and we kicked it right to the corner, so I think we did a good job moving the ball.”

The Cardinal played well defensively on the weekend, especially on Friday when VanDerveer’s squad held Washington State to only a 29-percent field goal percentage while out-rebounding the Cougars by a plus-16 margin to conclude the night. Against the Huskies, Stanford’s late-game comeback started from locking down the Washington offense, holding the Pac-12’s highest-scoring offense to only eight field goals on 29-percent shooting in the second half to narrowly edge out a victory.

Although the Cardinal defense played well for the most part, Stanford ultimately fell victim to the Kelsey Plum show in Seattle, despite escaping with a victory. Stanford allowed Plum to rack up an astounding 44 points on 17-27 shooting, including an unbelievable 7-of-8 from the perimeter on 36 minutes of play.

Plum owns the national best with an unreal 30.7 points per game, and she tops all other scoring leaders in total points, while leading the Huskies to conference favorites in such a competitive season.

With two weekend wins, VanDerveer stands only one win away from joining former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt in the 1,000-win club. Anticipation is rising, looking forward to Stanford’s four-game homestand in the next couple weeks. The squad has the ability to reach the milestone together when it hosts USC on Friday at 6 p.m. in what is sure to be a piece of Cardinal history to unfold.

Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’

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