Sports

Smith, defense and the 3-pointer keys for Stanford victory

 

Australian freshman Alanna Smith scored 22 points, including six 3-pointers, Lili Thompson scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half and the No. 13 Stanford women's basketball team recovered from a 12-point first-half deficit to beat Dayton, 74-66, at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Saturday evening in Estero, Fla.

Stanford (5-1) advances to face Purdue in the tournament's championship on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The Boilermakers (5-0) beat No. 22 Louisville, 62-60, in Saturday's nightcap.

Stanford were down, 26-14 early in the second quarter, rallied to within two and was behind seven at the half, 40-33.

The Cardinal opened the third quarter on an 18-5 run and when Kailee Johnson found Bri Roberson on the baseline for an acrobatic layup, Stanford had its first lead, 47-45, with 14:53 remaining in the game.

Dayton was up one entering the fourth, 54-53, but Thompson hit a 3-pointer to open the frame and Stanford never looked back. Thompson and Smith scored the Cardinal's first 13 points of the frame before Karlie Samuelson delivered the dagger.

"That was the difference for us," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said of hitting 3-pointers. "Alanna was awesome, Lili hit some big shots and I thought what really took the air out of them was Karlie's 3 on the reversal."

Up three and attempting to drain some time, Stanford worked the ball around until the shot clock neared zero. In the middle of a scrambling Flyer defense, Kailee Johnson found Samuelson with a quick touch pass in the corner. Samuelson hit the long ball as the buzzer sounded to end Dayton's hopes of a comeback.

Smith entered the game averaging 5.8 points and had made just 2-of-9 from deep before exploding for 22, including a 6-of-8 mark from behind the arc.

Smith and Erica McCall, who finished with 16, combined to score all of Stanford's 14 points in the first quarter. The Cardinal hadn't had someone make that many threes in a game since Bonnie Samuelson hit eight against UCLA last February 15. The freshman also added a pair of blocks in 31 minutes.

In its last three games, Stanford is shooting 40.4 percent on threes (36-of-89). The Cardinal was 11-of-24 on Saturday, 15-of-33 on Friday against Missouri State and 10-of-32 last Monday against Santa Clara.

It's the only time in the past decade Stanford has made 10 or more 3-pointers in three straight games.

Dayton shot 47.1 percent in the first half and turned the ball over just four times. Stanford's defense tightened in the second, holding the Flyers to 33.3 percent and forcing nine miscues.

"Our defense picked up in the second half," VanDerveer said. "We were more aggressive and got a couple of steals. To come back and get the win is big for us."

Purdue is Stanford's most familiar foe in the field. The Cardinal is 7-3 all-time against the Boilermakers, and has won the past two.

The team's last meeting on Nov. 26, 2013 in Puerto Vallarta was VanDerveer's 899th career win as a collegiate head coach.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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