"Prior to this contest I thought that Stanford was national championship team and nothing I saw tonight dissuades me from that opinion," UC Davis coach Sandy Simpson said. "They had answers tonight."
Nonetheless, in Simpson's final game as coach of the Aggies, UC Davis presented more of a challenge to the Cardinal than many of the 6,515 fans in attendance may have expected.
In the first half, the Aggies frustrated Stanford's offense with its aggressive trapping defense, forcing the Cardinal into 10 first half turnovers. At the same time, UC Davis was on the mark from beyond the arc, hitting 4-7 three pointers in the first frame.
"I thought we turned the ball over too much in the first half," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We were giving them some threes we didn't want to give them."
As a result, UC Davis gained an 11-8 lead early in the first period, to the delight of the sizeable contingent of Aggie supporters in attendance.
However, Stanford responded with a 10-0 run to take a seven-point lead that stretched to double digits by halftime.
It didn't take long for the Cardinal to extend their lead in the second half. A pair of three-pointers from Lindy La Rocque and some strong inside play by Nneka Ogwumike helped Stanford balloon its lead to 59-37 with 13:49 left. The Cardinal continued to pour it on as the second half progressed, in large part due to pinpoint accuracy from deep.
"They started hitting shots in the second half and they weren't necessarily getting some of those looks in the first half," UC Davis forward Heidi Heintz said.
Part of the reason for Stanford's success shooting (the Cadinal shot 55 percent from the floor and made 13-22 three pointers) was an adjustment by Stanford to use screens to free up open shooters.
"I think that it wasn't just the shooters, it was the fact that we had people screening to get those shooters open," VanDerveer said.
Stanford's ability to knock down outside shots helped free passing lanes to the interior, and was a big reason why Nneka Ogwumike led the Cardinal in scoring for the game with 22 points. La Rocque added 14, Kayla Pedersen, Kokenis, and Jeanette Pohlen each chipped in 11 points, and Chiney Ogwumike rounded out Stanford's contingent in double figures with 10 points.
Paige Mintun led UC Davis with 17 points, and Heintz chipped in 11.
The most impressive stat of the game for either team might have been Stanford's assist-to-made-basket ratio, however – the Cardinal had 28 assists on their 31 shots.
Stanford will look to send its seniors out with yet another home victory on Monday afternoon, when they host ninth seeded St. Johns at Maples Pavilion. The Red Storm topped eighth seed Texas Tech in a sloppy 55-50 game earlier Saturday.
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