Women’s basketball bests the Sun Devils

Jan. 29, 2022, 4:40 p.m.

Maples Pavilion looked and felt different on Friday night when the No. 2-ranked Stanford women’s basketball team (15-3, 6-0 Pac-12) hosted Arizona State (9-7, 1-2 Pac-12). For the first time in 2022, Stanford Athletics opened its doors to all spectators to watch the Cardinal play at home. Attendance at all previous games this month was restricted to the families of student athletes, following Stanford Athletics’ Jan. 4 indoor sports policy change.

Although the atmosphere in Maples was starkly different from the empty gym feel of earlier games, the Cardinal had no problem adjusting, defeating the Sun Devils by a score of 78-50. 

The Cardinal’s stifling defense helped them go ahead 15-4 in the first quarter, and they never relinquished their lead. For the game, Stanford held Arizona State to just 33% shooting from the field and 18% from behind the arc.

On offense, Stanford boasted a well-balanced approach, with four different players in double figures. Junior guard Haley Jones led the way with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double.

“I was really excited about how people came off the bench and made some major contributions,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer.

Sophomore guard Jana Van Gytenbeek was one such bench player who made an impact. In the absence of junior guard and sharpshooter Hannah Jump, who is currently in COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Van Gytenbeek stepped in and made three 3-pointers.

Freshman forward Kiki Iriafen was another key contributor off the bench. In just 10 minutes of play, Iriafen managed to score 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including three straight baskets in the fourth quarter. Junior forward Fran Belibi was similarly efficient, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting in 11 minutes.

The combination of Iriafen and Belibi, along with sophomore forward Cameron Brink, was too much for Arizona State to handle in the paint. 

“We dominated inside,” VanDerveer said. “I’m really excited to see that.”

One bright spot for the Sun Devils was the play of guard Jade Loville, who scored a game-high 19 points. Early in the second quarter, Loville connected on a short jumper to put her over 1,000 points for her collegiate career.

Stanford’s Friday win against Arizona State marks its seventh straight victory since a 65-61 loss to No. 1 South Carolina on Dec. 21. The Cardinal have also now won 21 in a row against Pac-12 opponents.

This impressive streak will be put to the test, however, as Stanford will take on No. 8 Arizona in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Final on Sunday. The Wildcats are 15-2 on the year and currently third in the Pac-12 standings behind Stanford and Oregon.

Tip-off against Arizona is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT at Maples.

Gavin McDonell is a former managing editor of the sports section. He is a junior 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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