No. 2 Stanford women’s basketball (20-3, 11-0 Pac-12) defeated Utah (14-8, 5-5 Pac-12) on Friday night at Maples Pavilion by a score of 91-64. The win brings head coach Tara VanDerveer to the 20-win mark for her 20th consecutive season.
Coming into the game, VanDerveer stressed the importance of playing good defense against the Utes, who came into the contest as the highest scoring team in the Pac-12.
“Those women can shoot,” said VanDerveer. “We really had to play lockdown defense.”
This notion stuck with the players, who collectively recorded seven blocks and 11 steals throughout the night.
“The idea is that if you play defense very well every night, then good things will come,” said sixth-year guard Anna Wilson.
For the first five minutes of the game, Stanford and Utah exchanged buckets, leaving the score at 9-9. After the halfway point of the quarter, the Cardinal offense exploded, going on a 10-0 run capped off by a triple from junior guard Hannah Jump. The quarter ended with the Cardinal on top 19-17.
The Cardinal outpaced the Utes in the second quarter, too, outscoring them 22-14. Senior guard Lexie Hull posted an eight-point performance in the period, while sophomore guard Cameron Brink added six points to go along with three rebounds and a steal. In addition to the high scoring output, Stanford held Utah to only 14 points. When the halftime buzzer sounded, Stanford was on top by a score of 41-31.
The key for Stanford during the first half was converting its defensive stops into scores. The Cardinal forced 12 turnovers, leading to 13 points of their own. Despite playing such physical defense, the Cardinal only committed seven fouls during the half.
Led by Jump, junior forward Ashten Prechtel and junior forward Francesca Belibi, the Cardinal extended their lead in the third quarter. Stanford posted 50% shooting from the field and behind the arc and outscored Utah 26-19 in the period.
“Our focus has been to come out in that second half and play like it is 0-0,” Lexie Hull said. “Follow our rules, and follow our stuff, everything should fall into place.”
Everything did fall into place in the fourth quarter when the Cardinal went on a 14-0 run to extend their lead to 30. When senior guard Lacie Hull connected on a three to cap off the run, VanDerveer rested the starters for the remainder of the game. After some more back-and-forth play, the game ended with the Cardinal on top 91-64.
Wilson’s play highlighted the night, as she put up 11 points, six assists and three steals.
“What can you say about Anna having a fantastic senior-plus year?” VanDerveer said. “Her defense is outstanding. I do not think there is anyone who plays defense as hard as Anna.”
In addition to Wilson’s defensive performance, Brink tied her career high with six blocks. Brink also led the team in rebounds with seven and added on two steals to her totals.
The four starting guards – both Hulls, Jones and Wilson – all filled up the stat sheet.
“Our guards have developed and played so well,” VanDerveer said. “That’s why we are doing what we are doing.”
Remarkably, six Stanford players – the five starters and Belibi – scored in the double figures, demonstrating the Cardinal’s depth.
“Different people stand up for us every night,” VanDerveer said.
Up next, the Cardinal will host Colorado (16-6, 5-6 Pac-12) on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion.