Stanford women open basketball season with a win


Over her three-plus years at Stanford, Alanna Smith has been introduced, along with her teammates, to a vast amount of basketball knowledge not just from her own Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer but also from NBA coaches past and present.

"Most recently it was Steve Kerr, who let us watch the Warriors practice and then he came and spoke to the team," Smith said. "He talked about leadership and is approach to coaching the Warriors. It was very valuable."

Maya Dodson/Stanford Athletics
So when UC Davis coach Jennifer Gross and her staff came down last May to explain the Princeton offense, Smith was impressed.

"I think of Tara as a Hall of Fame coach and when she starts talking about other coaches being great, that means a lot," Smith said. "It just shows that even when you know your craft, you always find ways to improve, things to get better."

No. 7 Stanford ran the offense well enough to beat visiting UC Davis, 71-43, in its season-opener Wednesday night.

"I told Jen before the game that if we play well it's a tribute to her," VanDerveer said. "UC Davis is a hard team for us to play because we run the same offense. I felt like I was playing my sister."

Smith, who played with the Canadian national team that reached the championship match of the FIBA Women's World Cup in September, scored 16 points, including a 7 of 7 effort from the foul line, for the Cardinal, one of four to reach double figures in scoring.

Freshman Lexie Hull, one of the nation's top-rated recruits and winner of Washington's Player of the Year award last winter, scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as part of her collegiate debut.

"I just love to crash the boards," Hull said. "I'm very excited to start the season. It's great to play for a team that gives full effort all the time."

After playing to a virtual standstill in the first quarter, Stanford began steadily pulling away and led 36-24 at halftime. Sophomore Kiana Williams scored all of her 14 points in the first half and then sat out the second half.

Maya Dodson, one of the highest-rated recruits two years ago, added 10 points and six rebounds and was one of Stanford's best defenders.

"Maya is playing with a lot of confidence," VanDerveer said. "We can build on that."

Stanford out-rebounded the Aggies by a 50-25 margin, a stat pleasing to VanDerveer, who said the team set out to focus on that part of the game.

The Cardinal host Idaho at 2 p.m. Sunday. VanDerveer began her coaching career at Idaho 40 years ago.

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