With a 63-56 home win over Washington Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, No. 2 Stanford finished undefeated in Pac-12 regular-season play for the eighth time in program history. After the game, the league’s regular-season champions celebrated their title and Senior Day.
However, the road to victory in the Cardinal’s last regular-season game didn’t come easy as the visiting Huskies led for much of the game. Even though Washington sits at 12th in the league standings, under first-year head coach Tina Langley, they gave the top team in the conference a run for their money.
“If that’s our 12th best team, we’ve got a hell of a league,” Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer commented. “I want to give a shout out to Washington, and what a great job Tina and her staff are doing. We had our hands full the whole game. It’s not a fluke. She’s doing a great job, and their team really battled.”
The contest included 11 lead changes. It wasn’t until the last two minutes that Stanford was able to pull away, mainly via the efforts of guard Anna Wilson who made some key steals and scored five points in the last 1:03 of the game.
“We found a way to win,” VanDerveer said. “And I think a lot of it had to do with the defense of Anna Wilson and her steals.”
First-Quarter Back and Forth
The home team got out to a quick start with a 7-2 lead within the first three minutes, with sophomore forward Cameron Brink leading the way in a 7-0 run that included some tenacious defense, including a couple of strong blocks by Brink.
Washington responded with a run of their own punctuated by back-to-back jumpers from sophomore forward Lauren Schwartz. She helped tie the game up midway through the quarter. Her teammate, junior guard Trinity Oliver, drained a jumper to give Washington an 11-9 lead at the 4:11 mark.
Stanford junior guard Hannah Jump responded for Stanford with a trey, and the Cardinal regained the lead. However, that was short-lived as a three-pointer from Washington senior center Nancy Mulkey gave her team the lead again. At the first-quarter buzzer, Washington had a 17-16 lead. The Huskies shot 50% (8-16) from the floor compared to 33% (7-21) by Stanford.
Washington junior center Darcy Rees got things started in the second quarter with a layup. Her teammate, junior guard T.T. Watkins, made a trey at 7:45 to give her team a five-point lead. Stanford fought back with offensive production from senior guard Lexie Hull.
Like the first period, it was a close contest, yet Washington led for all the quarter. In both periods of the first half, the Huskies outscored Stanford 17-16.
At the break, Washington led 34-32. Schwartz led all scorers with 12 points, while Brink had 10 points, four rebounds, and four blocks for the home team.
Lexie Hull came out of the break on fire for Stanford with seven points early in the third period. Her efforts helped her team take the lead within the first minute. However, Washington was never far behind. When the home team had a three-point lead at 6:50, Oliver responded off a Stanford turnover with a three-pointer to tie the game up at 41 all with 5:27 to go.
The game was tied again about two minutes later, but the Cardinal finished out the period outscoring the Huskies by one point to head into the last frame with a 47-46 lead.
With ten minutes left, Washington was shooting 51% compared to Stanford’s 33%, but the Cardinal took a ton more shots, 57 to 39 by the Huskies.
One Minute and Anna Wilson Made the Difference
Upset-minded Washington continued to put Stanford on its heels in the fourth quarter. Schwartz, Watkins, and senior guard Missy Peterson led the charge offensively, giving their team a four-point lead, 53-49 at 6:55. Stanford stayed close, but it wasn’t until the last minute or so that the home team looked as if they were going to prevail.
After a layup from junior forward Haley Van Dyke with three minutes left, Washington went ice cold and didn’t score for the rest of the contest. With stellar play from Wilson and contributions from Ashten Prechtel, Brink, and junior guard Haley Jones, the Cardinal finished the game on a 10-0 run.
VanDerveer had a critical eye on her team’s performance, especially the offense.
“I think we can learn from this game. I think we can play a lot better. Our defense can be a lot better. Our offense…we can execute a lot better. We did take care of the basketball. We did get on the o-boards, which was great. But our field goal percentage was really abysmal. Our shooting just wasn’t there…not two, not three, or even at the free-throw line. So hopefully, we can shore those things up.”
Overall, Stanford shot 34% (24-70) from the floor compared to 46% (24-52) by Washington. From three-point land, the Cardinal shot 21% (5-24).
Brink finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds plus five blocks. Hull scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Schwartz led Washington with 16 points while Watkins added 10 points.
The win gave Stanford 31 straight wins over Pac-12 opponents and 1,500 career victories for VanDerveer, the winningest coach in women’s basketball history.
Both teams turn their attention to the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament March 2-6 in Las Vegas.
Washington, seeded at No. 12, plays No. 5 Colorado on Wednesday. With a first-round bye, top-seeded Stanford begins play against the winner of a first-round game between No. 8 Oregon State and No. 9 Arizona State.