The Cardinal conquer the county: Victory comes by smallest margin yet

Dec. 2, 2022, 12:21 a.m.

At home on The Farm, Stanford women’s basketball (9-1, 0-0 Pac-12) beat Santa Clara (5-4, 0-0 WCC) in one of the smallest scoring margins of the season. Despite a well-executed Broncos offense, the Cardinal won 82-69.

Stanford won the jump ball to start, leading to the first shot of the game. Nearly every shot made by the Cardinal in the first quarter was followed by a make from Santa Clara, putting the two teams in a tense back-and-forth affair. At the end of the quarter, Bronco guard Lexie Pritchard made a shot from beyond the arc to give Santa Clara the lead with one minute left, but the Cardinal snatched it back with a driving layup by senior guard Haley Jones to end the quarter at 20-19.

Sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen played an impressive first quarter, scoring 11 of the team’s 20 points and gathering three offensive rebounds.

In the second quarter, senior forward Francesca Belibi came off the bench to contribute seven points for the Cardinal. Senior guard Hannah Jump also put up seven in the quarter, including a timely 3-pointer that gave Stanford a 16-point lead at one point — its largest lead of the first half. The Cardinal outscored the Broncos 20-10 this quarter, ending the half on top 40-29.

Stanford, despite having no dominant offensive player, scored its most points of the game in the third quarter, as the team has many times this season. Belibi and Jump each scored five points and freshman guard Talana Lepolo dished out four assists in the period. Jones contributed a pull-up jumper with under four minutes on the clock, giving Stanford a 19-point lead — its largest lead in the game. It was an offensive display for both teams as Santa Clara also had its highest-scoring quarter with 22 points, closing the gap to just 64-51 entering the fourth.

Though the Broncos shrunk the score margins back to single digits at various points in the fourth quarter, the Cardinal were able to maintain their lead down the stretch, ultimately winning 82-69.

Tara VanDerveer, Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball, was comfortable playing her starting five for a majority of the game, a group that she believed “took care of the basketball.”

“I think it’s a nice problem that [VanDerveer] has — deciding who’s going to play and when they’re going to play,” Belibi said after the game. “[She] likes to say we hold each other accountable. If someone’s not going to do something, there’s people on the bench who can and will.”

Jump led the team in scoring with 19 points. Iriafen came in second with 16 points, as well as six rebounds. Jones contributed 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals.

“We’re playing a lot smarter,” Belibi said. “All of our guards are making really great decisions, and we’re not really getting as many offensive fouls and those types of turnovers.”

The Cardinal put in an impressive effort to outscore a team that VanDerveer felt better executed a similar style of offense, one that is new for Stanford.

“We have to run our offense better,” VanDerveer said. “It was the same offense [Santa Clara] was running, but they were knocking down their three’s and moving the ball better than we did.”

Next up, Stanford plays No. 23 Gonzaga (6-1, 0-0 WCC) at home for another midday match. Tip-off is scheduled for Sunday at 12 p.m. PT.

Hawe is a staff writer for the sports section.

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