Full steam ahead: Women’s basketball steers past the Pilots

Nov. 13, 2022, 9:54 p.m.

No. 2 Stanford (4-0, 0-0 Pac-12) remains high-flying to start the season after an 87-47 victory over Portland (2-1, 0-0 West Coast) on Sunday. 

Stanford changed its starting five for the first time this season, notably including freshman guard Talana Lepolo from the outset. That selection paid off early as Lepolo assisted sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen on the Cardinal’s first possession. 

Senior guard Haley Jones conceded a foul but showed her maturity by immediately responding with a field goal to restore parity. After an early back-and-forth, junior forward Cameron Brink grabbed an offensive rebound and drew a foul, converted both free throws and set the pace for the rest of the half. 

After that, the Cardinal prevented the Pilots from scoring for more than five minutes. Crucial to that run was Brink, who in the dying seconds of the quarter produced a huge block to deny Portland from regaining a foothold in the contest. The first quarter ended 19-7, with the Cardinal on top. 

In the second quarter, the Cardinal used its height advantage to extend the lead. First, Brink came up big with another massive rejection — one of five throughout the contest — before scoring in the next possession. Then, freshman center Lauren Betts scored twice in quick succession after dominating in the paint. 

As the half drew to a close, Jones scored on a highlight reel play, converting a reverse layup off the glass as she stumbled and fell to the ground. The Cardinal held the Pilots to only 10 points in the second quarter as they grew their lead to 43-17 at halftime. 

Portland was frustrated by Stanford’s defense in the second half and was unable to convert a field goal for six minutes to start the quarter. When the Pilots did eventually score, the Cardinal immediately responded through senior guard Hannah Jump, underlining their relentless offensive approach. 

Stanford’s healthy lead ensured that head coach Tara VanDerveer did not have to play her starters for the duration of the game. This allowed the team to experiment with different combinations while maintaining constant focus and energy to punish Portland. One sequence, in particular, exemplified Stanford’s depth; sophomore guard Elena Bosgana forced a steal, then, senior forward Fran Belibi got an offensive rebound and finally, freshman guard Indya Nivar sunk a 3-pointer. 

“Haley [Jones] and Cam [Brink] really stepped up today, but it was a total team effort,” VanDerveer said. 

The third quarter ended 68-27 after the Cardinal outscored the Pilots 25-10 in the period. 

The Pilots did not give up, though, and went on a 4-0 run to open the fourth quarter. Betts responded with a nice fake before finishing from under the basket. Portland scored its first three of the game as Stanford gave up twenty points in the fourth, the most of any quarter. The Cardinal remained on top, though, and finished with a fastbreak score by Belibi to put the finishing touches on another comfortable victory.

Leading the Cardinal in scoring was Jones, with 17 points, followed by Brink, with 12 points, and then Iriafen and Belibi each with 10 points. 

“I think we have great communication and we’re playing with a lot of energy out there,” Jones said of the team’s performance. 

Stanford returns to Maples Pavilion for a matchup against Cal Poly (1-1, 0-0 Big West) on Wednesday Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.

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