No. 8 women’s basketball continues conference success on senior night

Feb. 20, 2017, 9:28 p.m.

After toppling Cal (17-11, 5-11) on the road at Berkeley in a highly competitive match on Thursday, No. 8 Stanford women’s basketball (24-4, 14-2) cruised to a 72-54 victory during senior night on Sunday for its final home game of the season against their Bay Area conference rivals.

Senior guard Karlie Samuelson once again showed her leadership of the strong Cardinal senior core during their sentimental last match in Maples which included lots of extra emotion and celebration throughout the night. Samuelson had a perfect showing in the Cardinal’s dominant second half, going  4-of-4 including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc after a disappointing 1-of-7 first half.

She stays with it even if she misses a couple,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She knows the team depends on her. All the seniors set a great example. They all give us great things.

Although the night was devoted to the seniors, junior guard Brittany McPhee continued to build her conference resume this season with another double-digit night in the points column for the guard. Despite scoring only seven points on Thursday’s road victory, McPhee continued her hot streak in the final stretch of the season, starting with a 26-point performance a couple weeks ago against Colorado.

However, the key to Stanford’s route was their suffocating defense that established and cemented the Cardinal lead from the beginning. The Stanford defense forced 15 turnovers while allowing only 11 assists and holding Cal to 40 percent from the field and 17 percent from beyond the arc. The Cardinal’s intense ball pressure prohibited the Golden Bears from feeding offensive powerhouse sophomore center Kristine Anigwe.

The Cardinal held Anigwe — the second leading scorer by points per game in the Pac-12 — to only 12 points on the night which effectively shut down Cal’s offense, resulting in the near 20-point win margin at the conclusion. Stanford also kept the sophomore stud center off the glass where she usually dominates, holding the third overall rebound leader per game in the Pac-12 to only four defensive rebounds on the night.

“I thought we were rushed a little bit in the first half. We just settled down in the second half and I thought we really got going and played very well,” VanDerveer said. “Our defense was really the key.”

The victory for Stanford extends a four-game conference winning streak that reestablished the Cardinal’s position at the top of the extremely competitive Pac-12, tied with No. 10 Oregon State (25-3, 14-2). VanDerveer and her squad will have a chance to claim the conference regular season championship if they win out, defeating both the Oregon schools including the No. 10 Beavers in hostile territory on the road.

In order to win out, Stanford must remain loyal to their strength — their depth. The Cardinal continually rely on different players to step up and take command in different matches and against different opponents.

Against frontcourt-oriented teams such as Cal, guards like McPhee and Samuelson can flourish around the perimeter from the increased space; against dominant guards such as No. 11 Washington’s Kelsey Plum, senior big man Erica McCall stars in the post while forwards Alanna Smith and Nadia Fingall play significantly bigger roles.

While the Cardinal played their last game of the season at Maples, their season will continue when No. 8 Stanford travels to Corvallis to avenge their double overtime loss at home against the Beavers earlier this season. Yet, despite knowing the obstacles ahead, VanDerveer couldn’t help but show her emotion for the sense of finality in this victory against Cal.

“Congratulations to an excellent career at Maples for Erica [McCall], Bri [Roberson] and Karlie [Samuelson],” she said. “They have been tremendous seniors and tremendous leaders. I’m keeping it together because I love coaching them, but we want to have 11 more games.”
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’

Login or create an account