It would be a mistake to think that these are the same two teams that played each other in November--both have improved and matured. In that game Karlie was coming back from a wrist injury and shot badly and Alanna was not playing at such a high level. Britt, however, had a superb game, prompting Alanna's dad (who was visiting and interviewed at halftime) to give his famous quip that his advice to his daughter was "get the ball to Brittany McPhee." Brook McCarty scored 20 against us and Roberson was the only person who could halfway defend her. That left Ariel Atkins less well guarded who scored 14. Texas had poor three point shooting days which is unusual for them. Also, since that game, Texas freshman Joyner Holmes has blossomed into a phenom starter, but she played just 17 minutes against us and was 1/4 in her second college game.
The question is which team has improved more since November? http://thecardboard.org/board/index.php?topic=16087.0 Overview:
The stat lines for the two teams were relatively comparable, except we scored 20 points from free throws and Texas scored 10. This did not look to be the case in the first half in which almost anything was allowed to go and practically no fouls were called. But the game turned when we began to made three point shots in the third quarter, and this loosened the interior as well. This put us ahead, and our free throw shooting kept us there.
Flow of the Game
Erica, Kaylee, Britt, and Karlie all got their shots working early in the game, and put us out to a 16-11 lead. But then our offense went stagnant and our defenders lost contact with Texas players for two easy baskets. 8 offensive rebounds helped Erica get off to a good start. Alanna played a few minutes but started 0-4. The first quarter ended Stanford 18-Texas 17.
The second quarter marked poor three point shooting as we got off to a 1/10 performance from beyond the arc. Still, we hung with Texas until Carrington came in to hit a trey to tie it up 29/29. But then our offense left us and Holmes made a layup, Sutton a trey, and Holmes a couple of free throws, and we went into halftime down 36/29.
The refs let the first half play out with lots of contact. Erica had a good half with 6/9 for 12 points. But Smith was 1/6 and McPhee 1/4. Stanford needed each of them to have much better starts. Meanwhile Texas played very balanced offense, rendering the scouting reports inert.
The second half started with a Karlie trey and a foul, but she missed the free throw and thus the chance for the four point play. But we grabbed the offensive rebound from the miss and Britt sank another trey for a six point trip. Holmes, however, began to go to work down low and Texas started making treys. Then we gave up a steal for a fast break layup, then Erica returned the favor the other way. After this furious start we went to the first TV break down 45-43. Karlie heated up and sank two more treys and Erica continued under the basket, and we pushed it out to a 52-47 lead on the strength of a 9-2 run. After trading free throws, we closed it out up 54-49 after outscoring Texas 25-13 in the quarter.
The fourth quarter started well as we got out to a 7 point lead, but Marta had a touch stretch, missing a layup and giving up a layup on the other end after the ensuing fast break. After a Marta turnover, Tara sent in Bri, who soon missed a trey. McPhee, however, made a back door cut and-one and converted the free throw to push us back to a 61-55 lead. After some fast back and forth we got to the five minute ad break up by 4, 61-57.
In my view the game turned at 4:26 after the break when Bri swooshed a trey to extend the lead to 7. Following that basket the game became a game of free throws--all our remaining 13 points were free throws, as we finished out the game and pecked away at Texas's hopes until they were extinguished.Performances:
Erica had one of her best games this year, scoring 23 points on 9/13 shooting, and grabbing 12 rebounds for a double double. Particularly important were her 6 offensive boards which often led to points--against a taller Texas team. 3 assists and a block round out her sterling performance.
Karlie Samuelson turned the game around for us in the critical third quarter. She scored 15 while going 4/8 from three point range, to go with 5 rebounds and a whopping 5 assists.
Britt started poorly in the first half but turned her game around in the second. She scored 12 and while she was only 3/9, she also earned and converted 5/6 free throws on her aggressive drives to the basket. 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a critical block gave her a full stat line.
Smith wound up with 10 points on 4/12 shooting, with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Bri was 1/4 but held McCarty to 4/14 shooting--a critically important defensive assignment. Roberson had no assists for the game.
Marta tried to provide a little offense but missed her layups and her trey attempt but hit 1/2 free throws. She had 3 assists to 4 turnovers.
Kaylee seemed to me to play pretty well in limited minutes. DiJonai got some meaningful time and hit a critical trey. Romano and Fingall got into the game. Conclusion:
Now we will move on to play a wounded but dangerous Votre Dame. But I will always remember this game as the game where Erica McCall looked like the player we knew she could be. If she can keep that confidence and level of performance, and be joined by Karlie, Britt, and Alanna playing at each of their best levels...then we could win another game, or more.