Sports

Johnson gives Stanford women a boost in Pac-12 hoops victory

 

Kaylee Johnson may have a special place in her basketball heart for starting, though she gives Stanford all the right answers whether starting or coming off the bench.

Johnson certainly seems to be flourishing off the bench. All four of her double-digit scoring games -- and both of her double-doubles -- have been produced in the eight she's come off the bench.


Lili Thompson became the 36th Cardinal woman to reach 1,000 career points. Photo by Mike Rasay/isiphotos.com
Sitting next to Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer during Sunday's press session following Stanford's 71-56 Pac-12 Conference victory over visiting Colorado, Johnson had to pause a moment when asked directly about her preference.

"Is that a loaded question?" she said after a quick glance at her coach. After the briefest of pauses, Johnson continued: "I like giving the team what it needs."

Johnson scored a career-high 17 points and had 11 rebounds in the win over the Buffaloes. She also blocked two shots and recorded a team-leading four assists.

"When I start on the bench I can see what is going on," Johnson said. "I just try to bring energy and to be aggressive."

Johnson averaged 1.1 points on 22.2 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 14.4 minutes in her seven starts. Since coming off the bench, she's averaging 7.4 points on 81.3 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 18.4 minutes.

"Kaylee knows she will play, and play a lot if she continues to play like she did today," VanDerveer said. "It's not as though she's benched. I like to go to the bench with firepower."

Johnson, who had five of Stanford's 18 offensive rebounds, proved critical in helping the Cardinal gain a 20-5 advantage over the Buffaloes on second-chance points, a 15-6 edge in points off turnovers and a 30-14 margin in the paint.

She scored Stanford's first six points, single-handedly keeping the Cardinal in the game for a while.

The Buffaloes made six of their first seven shots and held an 11-3 advantage with 4:22 left in the first quarter. Colorado went 3-of-17 the rest of the first half.

The Cardinal outscored the Buffaloes 25-10 the rest of the half and took a 28-21 lead into the intermission.

"We kept our composure and did not get nervous," said Erica McCall, who added 16 points and 11 rebounds. "We started getting stops on defense."

Lili Thompson scored 12, including her 1,000th career point, and Karlie Samuelson added 11 points for the Cardinal (13-3, 3-1 Pac-12), which won its seventh in eight games and improved to 14-4 all-time against the Buffaloes, including the past nine straight.

The Buffaloes were within 57-52 four minutes into the final period but could not hold off Stanford, which scored the next 10 points, with Johnson sparking the run on a putback, an ensuing free throw, and then a blocked shot on the other end of the court.

"Every team is going to give it their all," Johnson said. "Rather than concentrate on the score, a better approach is focusing on the next play and just trying to get the job done."

Thompson became the 36th Stanford player to reach the milestone.

Colorado did become the second team to shot better than 40 percent against the Cardinal, which entered the game leading the nation in defensive field goal percentage (.304). The Buffaloes were 41.1 percent from the floor, including 75 percent in the first quarter.

Stanford opens a four-game road trip Friday at Oregon at 6 p.m., a game to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.

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