Stanford women’s basketball’s 2021 senior day was unlike any other in years past.
Cheering fans in the stands were traded out for cardboard cutouts, and hugs from family were replaced by masks and socially distanced celebration. But, as head coach Tara VanDerveer put it, her team has “adapted” this season.
Fifth year guard Anna Wilson, senior forward Alyssa Jerome and senior guard Kiana Williams walked out to the midcourt of Maples Pavilion following a dominant 72-33 Stanford (22-2, 19-2 Pac-12) victory over Cal (1-15, 1-12 Pac-12). There they met VanDerveer, who presented each with flowers and led a ceremony celebrating each of their accomplishments and memories on and off the court. Teammates surrounded the group, and on screen in front of them were their families. It felt, again borrowing VanDerveer’s phrasing, “as normal as possible.”
“These seniors have been really special getting us through this COVID stuff,” VanDerveer said. “It’s almost been a total year now and I just want to give such a shoutout to Alyssa and Anna and Ki, and their families have made sacrifices by not being able to come out; I’m just glad we were able to have a good game for them.”
The game itself, despite the final score, was close until the second half. It was a 27-2 third quarter that all but put the game away for No. 4 Stanford over Cal.
The Cardinal only led by six going into the third quarter, but, as it has so many times before, the difference in halves started with defensive stalwart Wilson. She finished with three steals, three rebounds and two assists in what was her final game at Maples Pavilion.
“She really set the tone for us,” VanDerveer said of the guard.
Scoring came from up and down the roster on Sunday, with VanDerveer noting she was particularly happy that everyone saw meaningful minutes and found the basket at least once. Sophomore guard Hannah Jump paced the team with 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from three, and also contributed six rebounds and three steals. Williams’ 12 points and sophomore guard Haley Jones’ 10 rounded out the Cardinal in double figures.
Golden Bear Dalayah Daniels led Cal with 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting from the field, helping her team win the second quarter 18-17 to make it a 31-25 game after 20 minutes of play. From there, the Cardinal dialed in, turned up the pressure and went on a 40-8 run the rest of the way, ensuring the majority of the excitement from the day would stem from the post-game festivities.
The win was Stanford’s 11th straight since the team dropped back-to-back contests on Jan. 17 and 22.
The Cardinal began its season with a dominant 108-40 win against Cal Poly on Nov. 25. Now, more than three months later, after a regular season filled with cancelations, last-minute schedule changes and more than three-quarters of the games being played away from Maples Pavilion, Stanford will head to the Pac-12 tournament as the conference’s No. 1 seed.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for Mar. 4 in Las Vegas.