You can play the tape back, but not much changed in the rematch.
For the second time in three days, No. 6 Stanford (14-2, 11-2 Pac-12) visited Washington State (8-6, 6-6 Pac-12) and left with a win. The score was 71-49 on Wednesday and today it was 77-49. If you blinked, you might not have seen the difference.
Fifth-year guard Anna Wilson and senior guard Kiana Williams once again sparked the team with defense. Williams again tied for the team high in scoring. Freshman forward Cameron Brink did not quite match the double-double with five assists and five blocks she had on Wednesday (then again, no one else has since 2013) but did contribute across the board with six points, five rebounds and the same five blocks. Stanford even stumbled out of the second half gates for the second straight game.
It all started Wednesday with Wilson’s defense on guard Charlisse Leger-Walker, the conference’s leading scorer. Wilson knew that whatever she conceded on Wednesday would be exploited again on Friday. She also knew that the first few minutes would be crucial, not only to set the tone but to learn — how quick Leger-Walker was, a feel for the spots where she would look to score, how to handle switching off of a cross screen and whether the one-inch size difference would matter in the post.
Twice, Wilson dominantly controlled the first few minutes and, for that matter, the whole game. Leger-Walker did not score in either first half. In both games combined, she shot 2-for-11 from the field and 0-for-4 from deep. On Wednesday, she had six points and on Friday just two — she had never been held below 12 in her college career before this week.
“She’s a lockdown defender,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer.
Usually, “she’s a phenomenal player” and “it was really fun guarding her” would not appear in the same answer, but Wilson prides herself on her defense. Wilson embraced the challenge of facing the best and took it personally, but was more than ready to deflect praise back on to the team and sophomore guard Lacie Hull, who guarded Leger-Walker while she rested. It also helped that Wilson took learning the scouting reports and tendencies personally, especially as a veteran player. When Hull came in, she could do the exact same thing, and did.
Early in her time at Stanford, Wilson noticed that she would too often reach for steals and did not understand the art of forcing an opponent into a bad shot. Now, taking away her opponent’s favorite shots and forcing them into a bad attempt are the most fun for her, along with taking a charge.
Williams did the same for Stanford on defense, locking up guard Krystal Leger-Walker for a 2-for-10 performance. Unlike Wilson, who views her role primarily as a defender, Stanford also needs Williams to score. Historically, she has and on Friday scored 16 to move into 13th in program history, passing assistant coach Katy Steding ’90, with 1,587 career points. Williams also connected on two three-pointers and now just needs 20 to tie Candice Wiggins ’08 for the program record.
“Obviously, she is an incredible scorer,” Wilson said. “She makes really tough shots and she makes it look really easy.”
The other constant was the third-quarter push by Washington State, which center Bella Murekatete incited on Friday. Her six straight points cut Stanford’s lead to single digits. Then VanDerveer took a timeout, got her team’s attention, and the regularly scheduled programming continued.
The differences were small, but noteworthy.
Sophomore forward Haley Jones played a more aggressive game. She also scored 16, distributed five assists and turned the ball over just once.
“We were going to her more,” VanDerveer said. “We wanted to get her in that pick and roll. I love how she came down and hit that shot in transition.”
The head coach also said that Jones is “learning college intensity” but that when she rises to that level, “it’s a tough night for the other team.”
Stanford also let it fly from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Ashten Prechtel shot 3-for-3, sophomore guard Hannah Jump tallied 2-for-2 and Wilson was 1-for-2. VanDerveer went to Prechtel first off the bench and praised her intelligence postgame from the time the two spent watching film together. The next step for the 6-foot-5 perimeter threat will be holding on to the ball.
And Stanford won the rebound battle this time, 35-32, a stat that VanDerveer loves to note when her team is on top, or critique on the rare occasions that Stanford does not, as on Wednesday.
“I don’t want us to peak too early,” Wilson said.
Stanford will stay in the state for one more game, its third in five days, against Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.
“Luckily we get to go back to Maples,” Wilson said. “We’re really fortunate to be able to wrap up this 60-day-on-the-road thing and get back home soon.”
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.