SportsWomen's Basketball

Women’s basketball holds off Tennessee in top-10 duel

Dec. 19, 2021, 12:06 p.m.

No. 3 Stanford women’s basketball (8-2, 0-0 Pac-12) began its four-game road trip on Saturday, taking on No. 7 Tennessee (9-1, 0-0 SEC) in Knoxville. Even against a strong second half by the Lady Volunteers, the Cardinal won 74-63.

Saturday’s matchup was the latest chapter in a long-standing rivalry between the two storied programs. The Lady Volunteers rank second all time in national championships with eight, while the Cardinal are tied for third with three. Last season, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer broke the Division I record for most wins in a career. The former record holder was none other than the late Pat Summitt, a Tennessee coaching legend.

So, when the two teams took the floor at the Thompson-Boling Arena, they weren’t just playing a regular non-conference game; they were playing for a bit of history.

Tennessee struck first, taking a quick 13-9 lead. The Lady Volunteers’ offense, however, stalled in the waning minutes of the first period, and Stanford finished the quarter up 17-13.

The Cardinal’s momentum carried over to the second, as they began to pull away from Tennessee. Led by sophomore forward Cameron Brink and senior guard Lexie Hull, Stanford played suffocating defense and held the Lady Volunteers to just 18.8% shooting for the period.

Meanwhile, Stanford played its best offensive quarter of the season. Junior forward Haley Jones scored 10 of her team-high 18 points, while junior guard Hannah Jump scored 5 points in the second. When the halftime buzzer sounded, Stanford had scored a season-high 26 points in the quarter and enjoyed a 43-26 lead over Tennessee.

With Stanford threatening to put the contest out of reach, Tennessee came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders in the third quarter.

The Lady Volunteers all but shut down the Cardinal offense in the third, holding it scoreless for the first seven minutes. Tennessee forward Alexus Dye scored 10 points in the period, one more than Stanford did as a team.

Freshman forward Kiki Iriafen broke the scoring drought with two and a half minutes left in the quarter, but even so, the Cardinal lead had dwindled down to just 5 points. The third ended with Stanford up 52-46.

Tennessee cut into Stanford’s lead even further when Dye connected from close range to start the fourth quarter. With their lead down to just four points, the Cardinal needed a final push to close out the Lady Volunteers.

And that’s exactly what junior forward Ashten Prechtel provided. 

After Brink fouled out with eight minutes remaining, Prechtel came off the bench and hit three consecutive 3-pointers. Her third and final shot gave Stanford an 11-point lead.

The double-digit lead proved to be insurmountable, and Stanford hit its free throws late to win 74-63.

Stanford put its well-balanced offense on display throughout the contest, as five different players cracked double figures. Behind Jones’s 18-point and 19-rebound double-double, Prechtel scored 12, and both Jump and Hull tallied 11. Iriafen also chipped in 10 points.

The victory marked Stanford’s seventh win in its last 10 games against Tennessee. The win was also Stanford’s third against a top-10 opponent this season, with the previous two coming against No. 2 Maryland and No. 4 Indiana.

The team will look to build on this win as it takes on No. 1 South Carolina (11-0, 0-0 SEC) in a rematch of last season’s Final Four on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. PT in Columbia, S.C.

Gavin McDonell is the managing editor of the sports section. He is a sophomore from San Francisco, California who is studying Economics and Mathematics. His rooting interests include the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, Max Homa and of course, the Stanford Cardinal. Contact him at gmcdonell 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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