For 30 minutes, no. 1 Stanford was almost outplayed by no. 8 Oklahoma State. Counting the first, third, and fourth quarters, the Cowgirls outscored the tournament’s top seed by four.
Thank goodness for that second quarter. The Cardinal closed the first half on a 19-4 run, creating all the separation they would need in a 73-62 win. Stanford advances to play the winner of Missouri State vs. Wright State in the Sweet 16.
The Cardinal started the game with a quick 8-0 run, including some stellar plays on both ends from freshman Cameron Brink. They then went cold for the remainder of the first quarter with only nine points over the final 7:50, which allowed the Cowgirls to climb back to within one by the end of the period.
Cameron Brink got every bit of that one pic.twitter.com/br7atJMRyu— Ben Dull (@ben_dull) March 24, 2021
Things remained a little nervy into the second quarter, as turnovers plagued Stanford. Oklahoma State was pretty active defensively, pressuring the Cardinal and forcing the favorites to get sloppy. Stanford had eight turnovers through the first 15 minutes, leading to eight points for the Cowgirls, and the game was tied 23 with 5:45 to play in the half, but then the floodgates opened.
Brink got things started. She missed a shot out of a post up but relocated for a 3-pointer off a Lacie Hull offensive rebound. Kiana Williams picked up the baton from there, hitting three 3-pointers and assisting Fran Belibi on a layup before Anna Wilson closed out the first-half scoring with another three. All of a sudden, a tie game was a 15-point lead.
The Cardinal extended their advantage in the third, pushing the lead to 20 without about three minutes to play in the period. The Cowgirl duo of Lexy Keys and Natasha Mack was not deterred, though, putting together a 10-0 run of their own to get back into contact, and the game was very much in the balance as Stanford took an 11-point lead into the final quarter.
The fourth was more of the same. The Cardinal never outright dominated, though the lead never got below nine as they made just enough plays to maintain control. Haley Jones finished with 17 points, and Brink, Williams, and Wilson joined her in double figures. Stanford ended the game shooting 52 percent on threes, which helped make up for the 16 turnovers.
They’ll have to be sharper next time around. But the Cardinal are still dancing, and that’s what counts right now.