The five-game winning streak of the Stanford women’s basketball team came to a painful end on Sunday night when they lost a 72-69 double overtime decision to Oregon State. The rare home loss was the byproduct of a weak shooting night in which the Cardinal women only managed to connect on 33 percent of their shots from the field.
Head coach Tara VanDeveer and her team walked off the court disappointed, especially considering that it was only the ninth time in the last decade that they’ve tasted defeat at Maples Pavilion in the last decade. However, the fact that they were able to forge comebacks in both the fourth quarter and first overtime were seen as positives.
The first two victories during that streak were the tail end of the non-conference portion of the Stanford schedule. Traveling across country, they knocked off George Washington by a 71-52 score, using a dominating second quarter to take control of the game. Using the tandem of Britt McPhee and Erica McCall to bolster the offensive side, the stifling defense limited the Colonials to just 28 percent field goal shooting.
Returning home to face Yale, the Cardinal barely broke a sweat in routing the Bulldogs, 102-44. The game marked the first time in six years that Stanford had broken the century mark on the scoreboard and came about through the forcing of 19 turnovers and limiting Yale to just 27 percent shooting. A 24-6 score at the end of the first quarter became 50-18 by halftime, with the Cardinal in complete control.
Conference play got underway with a pair of road games in the Valley of the Sun. Against 18th-ranked Arizona State, McCall’s sixth double-double of the season was the centerpiece of this tightly contested affair. In addition, her five free throws in the final 71 seconds of action, coupled with overall clutch defense helped put the game in the win column in the 64-57 victory.
Two days later, Stanford began 2017 in strong fashion by putting away Arizona, 77-55 score. Things started slowly but Stanford woke up during the second quarter and ended up dominating the glass by a 43-25 advantage. During that second period, defense once again became paramount as they limited the Wildcats to just five points on 1-of-9 from the field.
On January 6, Stanford returned home and had trouble pulling away from the Oregon Ducks before emerging with an 81-60 win. The play of Alanna Smith during the final quarter played an integral role in that effort as she bounced back from a sprained ankle to finish with a new career-high of 24 points. In those final 10 minutes, 14 of the 24 points for the Cardinal came from Smith.
The fact that a number of these victories came through an emphasis on defense is something that should sustain Stanford as it battles through conference play. Stanford may not have been on anyone’s radar prior to the season, but they have been playing very well and currently sit ranked 13th. They get their chance for revenge against the Beavers when they travel to Corvallis for a clash on January 29.
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