Stanford women’s basketball takes care of business against Utah

2 Stanford Women’s Basketball (20-3, 11-0 Pac-12) beat Utah (14-8, 5-5 Pac-12) Friday night at Maples Pavilion by a score of 91- 64. The victory brings head coach Tara VanDerveer to the 20-win mark for her 20th consecutive season.

Going into the game, VanDerveer emphasized the importance of playing good defense against the Utes, who entered the contest as the highest scoring team in the Pac-12.

“These women can shoot,” VanDerveer said. “We really had to play lockdown defence.”

That notion stuck with the players, who collectively recorded seven blocks and 11 interceptions throughout the night.

“The idea is if you play really well defensively every night, then good things will come,” sixth-year guard Anna Wilson said.

For the first five minutes of the game, Stanford and Utah traded buckets, leaving the score at 9-9. Halfway through the quarter, the Cardinal offense exploded, starting a 10-0 run capped by a triple from junior guard Hannah Jump. The quarter ended with the Cardinal leading 19-17.

The Cardinal also edged the Utes in the second quarter, beating them 22-14. Senior guard Lexie Hull posted an eight-point performance during the period, while second-year guard Cameron Brink added six points to go along with three rebounds and a steal. In addition to producing high scores, Stanford held Utah to just 14 points. When the halftime buzzer sounded, Stanford was leading by a score of 41-31.

The key for Stanford in the first half was converting his defensive saves into scoring. The Cardinal forced 12 turnovers, leading to 13 points. Despite such physical defense, the Cardinal only committed seven fouls during halftime.

Led by Jump, junior forward Ashten Prechtel and junior forward Francesca Belibi, the Cardinal extended their lead in the third quarter. Stanford posted 50 percent shooting from the field and behind the arc and edged Utah 26-19 in the period.

“Our goal was to come out in that second half and play like it was 0-0,” Lexie Hull said. “Follow our rules and follow our tricks, everything should fall into place.”

It all fell into place in the fourth quarter when the Cardinal ran 14-0 to extend their lead to 30. When senior guard Lacie Hull connected on a three to end the run, VanDerveer let the starters for the rest of the game. After a few more back and forths, the game ended with the Cardinal leading 91-64.

Wilson’s play marked the night, as she had 11 points, six assists and three steals.

“What can you say about Anna having a fantastic senior year? says VanDerveer. “His defense is exceptional. I don’t think there’s anyone who plays defense as hard as Anna.

In addition to Wilson’s defensive performance, Brink matched his career high with six blocks. Brink also led the team in rebounds with seven and added two steals to his totals.

The four starting guards – Hulls, Jones and Wilson – all filled the stat sheet.

“Our guards have developed and played so well,” VanDerveer said. “That’s why we do what we do.”

Remarkably, six Stanford players – the starting five and Belibi – scored in the double digits, demonstrating the Cardinal’s depth.

“Different people stand up for us every night,” VanDerveer said.

Next, the Cardinal will host Colorado (16-6, 5-6 Pac-12) on Sunday. Tipping is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. PT at the Maples Pavilion.