Sports

Sniezek gets to the point in the Cardinal's victory over Lady Vols

 

Meet Marta Sniezek, Stanford's freshman point guard from McLean, Va., the same city that produced Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan, the man who led the football team to three Pac-12 titles in four years.

Sniezek may not duplicate Hogan's accomplishment with the women's basketball team, though she is an example of why the 15th-ranked Cardinal continues to improve.

Sniezek played a season-high 29 minutes, scored a season-best nine points, matched her season best in assists with four and managed a counter attack as Stanford beat visiting No. 14 Tennessee, 69-55, Wednesday in a nonconference game.

"Marta is a heady point guard, sees the floor well, works hard," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Her assists were great, scored when she needed, but she's really a great distributor. She's smart and she's a student of the game."

Managing Stanford's press break was her best attribute of the evening, as the Lady Vols turned up the heat with a swarming, smothering press in the fourth quarter that erased all but seven points of a 21-point deficit.

Sniezek, whose father celebrated a birthday Wednesday, helped the Cardinal respond and hang onto the victory, its fifth straight at home against Tennessee and its fifth in the past seven overall.

"I did what the coaches told me to do. We had a really good scouting report," Sniezek said. "Aggressive on defense, always trying to box out every player."

The Cardinal (7-2) looks to continue its development Saturday, when Cornell comes to town for a 2 p.m. game.

Another hint that Stanford continues to develop is junior forward Kailee Johnson, who started her second straight game, and for the fifth time in her career.

Dividing time with Kaylee Johnson, who netted a season-best 10 points, Kailee had a tough defensive assignment and helped Stanford limit the Lady Vols to 26.5 field goal percentage for the game and held them to their second-lowest point total in the series

Erica McCall recorded her seventh double-double of the season, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Lili Thompson led all scorers with 19 points.

"Any time you beat Tennessee, it's a great night," VanDerveer said. "We had to battle. It's a huge win."

The Lady Vols, who trailed by as many as 21, began to whittle away at the lead, climbing to within 54-47 on a 3-pointer and a layup off an ensuing steal from Jaime Nared with 5:37 remaining to play in the contest.

Stanford used an 11-4 run -- including a layup, a jumper and a 3 by Thompson -- over the next four minutes to seal it.

It was the first time in the 33-game series between the schools that neither team was ranked in the top 10.

Stanford missed its first three shots and committed three turnovers to start the fourth quarter, giving the Lady Vols an opening.

"The whole time Kaylee Johnson kept reminded us that Tennessee can come back," McCall said. "We lost to Texas (Sunday), but we learned a lot. It was great coming home and getting the win. We're tasting candy now."

Freshman Alanna Smith hit a layup with 2:05 left in the third quarter to give the Cardinal its largest lead at 46-35.

The Lady Vols missed their last six shots of the second quarter, allowing Stanford to take a 35-20 advantage into the intermission.

==B NOTES: Tennessee's Jordan Reynolds and Kailee Johnson were teammates at Central Catholic in Portland, Ore., winning the 2013 Class A state championship . . . The Stanford football team attended the game and was introduced to the crowd at halftime. The Pac-12 championship trophy was also on display. Cardinal players heckled Tennessee's Diamond DeShields for an early first-quarter air ball and when DeShields sank another shot, she turned to them and gave them a 'bring it on' wave. "I was excited the football team was here," VanDerveer said. "They bring great energy to the gym." VanDerveer, meanwhile, won here 960th career game, tying her for third all-time among women hoop coaches.

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