Stanford Smothers Texas Tech

One of the blueprints drawn up for this deep and athletic Stanford team in 2006-07 called for a high-intensity and relentless defense, given that the Cardinal have the horses to pull that off in some match-ups. Sunday unfortunately was one of those days for the visiting Lady Raiders. Stanford made Texas Tech turn the ball over early and often, leading to a big 73-49 win over a ranked team.

On Sunday, The #25 Texas Tech Lady Raiders met the #15 Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion.  The Lady Raiders were coming off a roller coaster week, where they joined the AP women's basketball poll for the first time this season, but dropped a road game at Fresno State.  With six wins and two losses, Texas Tech and their leading scorers, forward Alesha Robertson and center Erin Myrick, were looking for an upset of their own to prove their worth in the Top 25.  The Cardinal entered the contest with three wins and three losses, having struggled early and having lost three winnable games against ranked teams.  Against the Santa Clara Broncos four days earlier, the Cardinal fixed some offensive challenges, such as perimeter shooting and free throw success, with a balanced offensive attack that scored five players in double figures.  With junior guard Candice Wiggins and fifth-year senior forward/center Brooke Smith leading the way, the Cardinal would look to continue to produce points from other teammates, increase free throw success and develop a three-point threat.

Tara Vanderveer's gameplan became apparent in the opening minutes: exploit Texas Tech's turnover propensity.  The Cardinal pressed hard and forced turnovers, holding the Lady Raiders scoreless, while scoring eight points in the first four and a half minutes.  The Lady Raiders got back in the game, going on an 11-2 run to take the lead, after a string of turnovers by the Cardinal.  The Cardinal backed off the press, but inserted junior guard Cissy Pierce into the game, whose athleticism allows her to be a one-woman full court press.  However, the middle 10 minutes of the first half proved challenging to the Cardinal, as the lead was traded back and forth, and the Lady Raiders went ahead by three points with eight minutes remaining.

Despite this struggle in the first half, the Cardinal remained confident and undaunted by the physical play in the paint and Texas Tech's rallies.  In past games, the Cardinal seemed to get frustrated with poor shooting and calls (or non-calls) by the officials.  Not in this game.  Stanford saw success with their first chance at the free throw line, with 7:22 remaining in the first half, while Texas Tech committed a pair of turnovers, one forced by a Pierce steal.  Suddenly, the Lady Raiders' lead evaporated, as Jayne Appel scored four points in 36 seconds.  Texas Tech was forced to call a timeout to stop the bleeding.  This was to no avail, as the visitors would not see another lead the rest of the game.

After the timeout, the crowd, which included a small but very vocal Lady Raider group of fans, witnessed a brilliant play, where Smith brought down a defensive rebound, passed the ball out to Wiggins, who threw the long bomb down court to a sprinting Pierce, who made the easy lay-up.  It was the start of a 10-2 Stanford run, which saw Smith score eight points and Appel rack up two blocks and an assist.  The Lady Raiders scored eight of their own, six by a pair of three-pointers, to close within one with 1:41 remaining in the half.  Those would be the last points scored by the Lady Raiders for a very long time.  Stanford scored five more to close out the first half at 36-30.

The first half was a physical match, statistically even with Stanford committing 11 turnovers to Texas Tech's 12.  The second half would be entirely different from the first.

Stanford opened up the second half with a punishing, smothering display of offense and defense.  For the first eight and a half minutes of the second stanza, the Cardinal held the Lady Raiders to one field goal and two total points, while scoring 19 of their own.  Stanford would hold Texas Tech to just 19 points in the entire second half, with only eight coming from field goals and the rest from free throws.  The Lady Raiders shot a dismal 4-of-25 from the field, including 0-of-4 from three-point range.  With seven minutes to play and Stanford holding a 64-35 advantage, Wiggins and Smith took a seat, leaving the rest of the game to the Cardinal bench, who all came in for some minutes.  The final score was Stanford 73, Texas Tech 49.

Stanford dominated the boards, with 42 rebounds and eight blocks to Texas Tech's 35 rebounds and one block.  Stanford had three players in double figures (Wiggins-19, Smith-14, Appel-11); Texas Tech had none.  Turnovers were relatively even (Stanford-22, Texas Tech-24), but none for point guard JJ Hones, who registered seven assists and a steal.  Wiggins was 2-of-5 (40%) from three-point range and chalked up three steals.

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