Big numbers from Kiana Williams help women’s hoops topple Trojans

Dec. 20, 2020, 9:30 a.m.

In its first game since head coach Tara Vanderveer’s record-setting 1,099th career victory, No. 1 Stanford women’s basketball (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) cruised to an easy conference win over USC (1-4, 0-4 Pac-12) on Saturday. A season-high 27 points from senior guard Kiana Williams alongside double-digit contributions from junior guard Lexie Hull and freshman forward Cameron Brink fueled the Cardinal’s 80-60 handling of the Trojans. 

Though Williams’ role as a point guard typically includes finding her open teammates, assists evaded the senior on the stat sheet all night. Despite being on the court for 39 of the game’s 40 minutes, Williams finished the night having contributed zero of the team’s 19 total assists. 

Instead, Williams found success scoring herself, rather than setting her teammates up to do so. The senior sank 7-of-12 from behind the arc — accounting for almost 64% of the team’s successful three-pointers — and netted 10-of-22 from the field overall. None of Williams’ attempts managed to draw fouls and send her to the charity stripe, marking the fifth game this season in which the entirety of the guard’s points came in the midst of the action, rather than as free throws. While Lexie Hull and Brink have each recorded 23 attempts from the foul line over the course of six games played, Williams has just two attempts to her name during the same time. 

Despite the success she managed to demonstrate shooting, Williams recognized the way in which it represented a serious deviation from the norm. 

“I try to pass the ball and find my teammates,” Williams said of her priorities as a point guard. “But the roles were reversed. [My teammates] were finding me.”

The team was also finding Hull and Brink, as both hovered near the top of the Cardinal offensive stats with 16 and 12 points, respectively. Brink’s dozen came in just ten minutes on the floor on 5-for-5 shooting from the field in conjunction with a 2-for-2 showing at the free-throw line. 

The freshman’s consistency on offense — as also demonstrated throughout the season by her 12.3 average points per game and 64.4% field goal percentage — could have made a 15 or 20-point game seem probable, but fouls kept the 6-foot-4 forward largely confined to the bench. Though Brink recorded just ten minutes of playing time, her final moments of action came not even halfway through the fourth quarter when, as Stanford led by 15, Brink acquired her fifth foul, sending her to the sidelines for the remaining 3:49.

Brink’s aggressiveness on defense did not come without some reward, however. She had two blocks and a steal to go alongside three defensive rebounds by the final buzzer.

Like Brink, Hull managed to do some damage on defense against the Trojans. The junior swiped two steals and recorded a block, as well as an impressive six defensive rebounds as a 6-foot-0 guard. On the opposite side of the ball Hull was lethal from the free-throw line and behind the arc, going 8-for-9 and 2-for-3, respectively, en route to her fourth double-digit performance this season. While more notable than the 11.8 points-per-game average Hull donned going into the meeting with USC, her 16 points against the Trojans are still are far cry from her career-high 29, which Hull netted in a tight 76-68 overtime victory against Colorado in January. 

Nonetheless, Hull’s contributions on offense did not end with her scoring, as the junior boasted a team-high six assists in addition to two offensive rebounds. Hull’s efforts to crash the boards helped the Cardinal brutally out-rebound its SoCal opponent with Stanford’s 52 rebounds doubling USC’s 26. 

Unfortunately for the Cardinal as a whole, however, the idea of sharing the wealth apparently did not apply when it came to offensive success beyond Williams, Brink and Hull. While the trio’s success rate from the field hovered around a respectable 54% for the entire 40 minutes, that of the collective team was 39.2% — significantly worse than the 47.8% average for the Stanford squad over its six games to start the season. 

The first two quarters of play were particularly challenging for Stanford, with just 6-of-18 first quarter shots and an even worse 6-of-20 second quarter attempts falling for the Cardinal. 

“We have to have a sense of urgency,” Williams said in reference to the challenges the team faced finding its footing. “We have that number one next to our name and teams are going to come out and play their best.”

Luckily for Stanford, the Trojans did anything but play their best during the opening eight minutes of action, allowing the Cardinal to establish the lead it would hold for the remainder of the evening. Stanford’s intense defense and USC’s own shooting struggles resulted in an atrocious 2-for-14 (14.29%) first-quarter performance from the field by the Trojans. 

With USC in the rearview, the Cardinal’s attention turns to a Monday matinée against UCLA. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. PT in Los Angeles. 

Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’

Savanna Stewart is a managing editor in the Sports section. She is a junior from Twin Bridges, Montana studying Political Science and Communication and enjoys running and playing basketball. Contact her at sstewart 'at'

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