Another night brought yet another dominant Pac-10 victory to the Stanford Cardinal women's basketball team. Friday's final tally totaled 91-50, as Stanford routed their archrival, the California Bears. The Cardinal now have won 13 straight and, with victories against the LA schools on February 18 and 20, will clinch the Pac-10 championship outright.
Candice Wiggins scored 24 on 10-of-15 shooting in 29 minutes and Brooke Smith netted 20 on 10-of-12 shooting in only 22 minutes. Add Kelley Suminski's 13 points, and the Cardinal had enough points to win by seven on Friday. However, Stanford would win by 41, receiving contributions from nearly the entire team in one of its most dominant performances this season. The Card held Cal to 23.3% shooting, its second-best defensive showing of the season, made all 13 free throw attempts and shot 6-of-14 beyond the arc and 57.1% overall.
After watching the first 10 minutes of the ballgame, the 3,112 fans in attendance at Haas Pavilion might not have predicted the oncoming deluge of Stanford points. Although Cal's Kiki Williams was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, Stanford led 23-21 off of 12 Brooke Smith points in the first six minutes, made possible because Cal was only guarding Smith with one defender. Cal then adjusted their defense to account for Smith's inside threat, but this shift opened up the court and allowed Stanford to absolutely explode from all over the floor. The Card reeled off a 20-3 run and trotted off to the locker room with a 45-26 lead.
In marked contrast to many of the other lopsided contests this year, Stanford started the second half with as much energy as when they concluded the first stanza. In the first 30 seconds of the second half, the Card dropped two threes, and in the first two minutes of the half Stanford spurted for a 10-0 run. The Cardinal would continue to play at a high level in the remaining 18 minutes, increasing their 29-point lead to as many as 45 after a 21-0 run spanning over seven minutes. The Card allowed Cal only 7-of-35 (20%) shooting on the half, won the second stanza 46-24, and rolled to the 91-50 final margin.
Stanford has now won 25 of its last 26 against Cal, including 10 in a row. In their 13-game win streak, Stanford's average margin of victory now stands at 21.1. Much of the impetus for this streak and margin has come on the offensive end, as Stanford is shooting 325-of-621 (52.3%) in their last 11 games.
With seven Cardinal playing over half of the game, Friday night's Cal matchup presented a great opportunity for analyzing individual players and their contributions. Examining first the backcourt, senior guard Kelley Suminski played much more aggressively offensively, driving to the hoop more than usual and making more of an impact than her 13 points and two rebounds might indicate. Suminski, however, did slip somewhat defensively, allowing more open perimeter looks than usual.
Redshirt senior guard Susan King Borchardt jammed her finger in Friday's practice, according to her post-game interview on KZSU. The injury is not serious, as Borchardt played 21 minutes and scored nine points.
En route to 24 points, freshman guard Candice Wiggins displayed stronger shot selection, shooting 10-of-15 and doing a better job passing the ball when the defense collapsed around her, as her five assists suggest. She played with her usual defensive energy, notching three steals.
Senior forward Sebnem Kimyacioglu could not get her shot to drop and was not as much of an offensive factor as in games previous, shooting only 1-of-7 from the field and 0-of-4 beyond the arc in 22 minutes.
Although senior forward T'Nae Thiel grabbed six points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, it was a quieter game than usual for Thiel, who still looks uncomfortable in the offensive high-blocks. Defensively, Thiel's game was quiet because Cal could not score in the paint and eventually abandoned the entire low-post, so give Thiel due credit.
Redshirt sophomore center Brooke Smith finished 19-of-23 from the field in the season series with Cal. She played much stronger defensively Friday than previously, recording three blocks and positioning her body more aggressively and confidently.
Senior forward Azella Perryman continues to receive increased playing time, seeing 25 minutes on Friday, behind only Wiggins and Suminski. Perryman continues to improve as her playing time rises, scoring eight points, grabbing three rebounds, and dishing out three assists against Cal. If Kimyacioglu the sixth man, Perryman has progressed to the point where she's the undisputed seventh.
Looking to join their teammates on the court are three Cardinal in various stages of recovery from injury. Freshmen Cissy Pierce and Christy Titchenal are probable for the LA trip of February 18 and February 20. Freshman Jessica Elway's estimated timetable for return is five weeks, which would get her healthy just in time for the NCAA tournament. Shelley Nweke's and Eziamaka Okafor's injuries have knocked them out for the season, and both players are no longer traveling with the team.
Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM. Daniel welcomes any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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