Slow start turns into Stanford's NCAA tournament exit


Take away the first three minutes of its regional championship game with Washington and the fourth-seeded Stanford women's basketball team is sitting pretty instead of making plans for things unrelated to the NCAA tournament.

The first three minutes, though, are etched into history and the seventh-seeded Huskies thoroughly dominating first quarter thrust them into their first-ever appearance in the Final Four.

Erica McCall
Washington opened Sunday's game in Lexington's Rupp Arena by scoring the first 12 points and never looked back in beating Stanford, 85-76, and ending the Cardinal's tournament run in the Elite Eight in Kentucky.

"We lost to a very good team to a very good team," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Kelsey Plum is flat out an All-American. There's no player we've faced harder to guard. You can't foul her, you can't take away her left, and you can't take away her right."

The Huskies (26-10) will meet No. 4 seed Syracuse (29-7) in the late national semifinal on April 3 in Indianapolis. The Orange eliminated No. 7 Tennessee, 89-67.

Oregon State plays Baylor on Monday for a berth in the Final Four. The Pac-12 had three of the final eight teams standings. The Big 12 had a pair, with Texas taking on Connecticut in the early game Sunday.

Stanford (27-8) never made up the early deficit, climbing within four early in the fourth quarter on a McCall 3-pointer..

"It's disappointing to come out like that," VanDerveer said. "You can't start like that against a team like that. Chantel Osahor came out and hit a couple of quick 3s. Where was our defense? She was the difference in the game. She's very capable of hitting shots from up there, and then she gets to the low block and rebounds."

Osahor had 24 points and 18 rebounds and Plum had 26 points and eight assists for the Huskies.

Erica McCall answered with 17 points and 15 rebounds and Lili Thompson added 19 points before fouling out. Karlie Samuelson, who had 12 points, also fouled out.

"Speaking for myself I didn't have the same energy I had in the last game," McCall said. "They played good defense but a lot of that is on me for not having the performance level or energy level. Hopefully we come back next year and figure out the solution to the problem."

The Cardinal, which finished in a third-place tie with UCLA in conference play and was eliminated -- by the Huskies -- in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, can look ahead with a smile. The team returns virtually intact and adds three high school All-Americans into the mix.

Stanford opened the final period by sinking four straight 3-pointers, from Samuelson, Thompson and Marta Sniezek, who added 10 points to the cause.

McCall's 3-pointer with 7:19 remaining to play in the contest got the Cardinal within 67-63. Stanford went inexplicably cold over the next 5:36, missing seven straight and going 1-of-2 from the foul line.

By the time McCall hit another 3-pointer, with 1:33 left, the Cardinal was down by 10.

Stanford missed its first four shots and turned the ball over twice while the Huskies were building their 12-0 advantage.

"We did regroup and started making plays," VanDerveer said. "We have a young team and hopefully they learned a lot from this experience."

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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2 people like this
Posted by Les Chang
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2016 at 9:54 pm

As a Stanford alum and an avid Stanford WBB fortunes throughout the years, I was very disappointed with results of today's game vs Wash.
We were way down in the beginning. Our coaching staff was at loss in making adjustments to catch up. McCall didn't score. No adjustment was made. Our good shooters are far and few in between, lots passing the ball around mostly with zero results. No positive coaching, majority are subpar players. Revamping staff and adding better players is in order.

Like this comment
Posted by John Jacobs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm


Give me a break! I'm NOT a Stanford alum, but have been watching Stanford WBB ever since Tara Vanderveer came to The Farm three decades ago, transforming the program from a national non-entity to a national champion in a relatively short time. Ever since, they have maintained a very high level of play, usually winning the Pac-12 title and often ending up in the Final Four.

For the first time in a long while, this year's group didn't have an All-American on it, perhaps a sign that the women's game has seen tremendous growth post Title IX, so recruiting great players has become a lot more competitive. Still, this team managed to upset Notre Dame, the #2 team in the country, to get to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, testimony to the players' and coaches' hard work and determination. Yesterday, they were simply outplayed by a team playing its best ball, similar to how Stanford was able to conquer Notre Dame two days prior.

Before calling for anyone's scalps, remember the purpose of intercollegiate athletics, and appreciate the effort of the coaches and players to maximize performance. In the end, it's not just about W's and L's, although the Stanford Women take a back seat to very few, in that regard. With help on the way in the name of three All-American high school players arriving on The Farm in the fall, it's likely that next year's team will be able to surpass this year's performance, but even if they don't, let's enjoy the game for the what the players and coaches bring to the court and for the spirit that pervades intercollegiate athletics when all is kept in perspective.

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