Coming off back-to-back losses, No. 4 Stanford (25-5, 14-4 Pac-12) leaned in to what had gotten it to this point: its defense. The Cardinal held No. 24 Arizona State (20-10, 10-8 Pac-12) to single digit scoring in two separate quarters and its lowest point total of the season.
Stanford left the desert with a 55-44 victory behind a massive performance from Fran Belibi. The freshman forward made her first nine shots, scored 18 points and tallied nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Led by Belibi, the Cardinal took control of the paint. Stanford scored 38 points from inside the key and hauled in 14 rebounds on the offensive glass, 28 on the defensive and nine more than the Sun Devils overall.
Junior guard Kiana Williams and sophomore guard Lexie Hull each finished with 13 points. Though her four assists led the team, Williams went 6-for-19 from the field, including 0-for-6 from behind the arc, contributing to the team’s 25% 3-point shooting percentage; on the season, Stanford is shooting 36.1%.
While Hull made three of Stanford’s four made 3-pointers, she went 5-for-12 overall with five turnovers, meaning she will leave the Arizona road trip with 12 more turnovers than when she arrived.
Arizona State connected on its fewest shots of the season; only six players found the score sheet, and its leading scorer, Ja’Tavia Tapley, netted half her season average of 11.7.
Stanford still has areas to improve as it looks towards the Pac-12 tournament. Mirroring the Sun Devils, only six Cardinal scored. The team shot just 1-for-5 from the charity stripe. A slow start — 10 points in the first quarter — and an early end — two points in the last seven minutes — will not win games against superior competition. Sixteen turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter, can decide tournament games.
Stanford dropped to the three-seed for the Pac-12 tournament on a tiebreaker with UCLA, who won the lone meeting of the season in Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal will take on the winner between sixth-seeded Oregon State and 11th-seeded Washington State Friday in Las Vegas at 8:30 p.m. PT.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.