After finishing finals week, No. 4 Stanford women’s basketball (7-2, 0-0 Pac-12) returned to action, beating University of the Pacific (2-7, 0-0 WCC) 91-62.
The Cardinal dominated the Tigers throughout the contest, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Stanford forced 19 turnovers throughout the game and outrebounded Pacific 12-2 in the first quarter alone.
In addition to their dominant defense, the Cardinal’s offense could not be stopped. In the first quarter, Stanford went on two separate runs, 12-5 and 16-2. In the latter run, Stanford converted four of its last five field-goal attempts. The quarter ended 30-18.
During a timeout in the first quarter, the Cardinal fanbase honored Nneka Ogwumike ‘12, the number-one overall pick in the 2012 WNBA draft and member of ESPN’s top-25 WNBA all-time players list. Ogwumike’s presence seemed to inspire the team, especially sophomore forward Cameron Brink.
“Cam [Brink] said to Ogwumike, ‘I am gonna show you what I got,’” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She has been more aggressive in practice.”
Ogwumike’s inspiration may have propelled the Cardinal to a quick start, but the second quarter began with a few miscues from Stanford. Pacific capitalized on them, cutting the Cardinal’s lead to eight points.
Despite the change in momentum, the Cardinal bounced back later in the quarter behind their offensive rebounding. Because of their ability to control the boards, the Cardinal ended the half up 45-34.
The third quarter was the key to Stanford’s win. The Cardinal were unstoppable on both ends during these 10 minutes, outscoring Pacific 25-11. Senior guard Lexie Hull led Stanford with a nine-point, three-rebound and two-block third-quarter performance. The three rebounds were all on the offensive glass.
“Lexie accepted the challenge defensively,” VanDerveer said. “She really had a great game, picked up her defense in the second half. Really under control. Knocking down shots. Making some great plays for us. Getting steals, blocks and forcing turnovers.”
The Cardinal slowed down in the fourth quarter, as the two teams evenly traded points. When the clock hit zero, however, the Cardinal emerged victorious by a score of 91-62.
Brink led Stanford in most statistical categories with her 25-point, 11-rebound and four-block performance. Hull also filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, four rebounds and three blocks.
“This was our one-two punch right here,” VanDerveer said.
Besides Brink and Hull, junior guards Hannah Jump and Haley Jones notched 12 and 11 points, respectively. Stanford outscored Pacific 58-22 in the paint and 27-4 on second chances.
Brink attributed her success in this game to the competition and leadership at practice.
“Coaches have really kept me accountable,” Brink said. “And playing against Kiki and Fran and Ashten every day has really made me improve. They are some of the best defenders in the country, and going against them every day is hard and it’s not fun all the time, but it makes us better.”
Looking ahead to the break before winter quarter, the team is excited for its newfound time to bond and create better team chemistry.
“We can now focus these next few weeks on basketball and also on building our relationships off the court,” Hull said.
Next up, the Cardinal are set to take on UC Davis (4-3, 0-0 Big West) at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.