SC's close defense and speedy guards take us on in the Pac 12 quarterfinals. They have won 3 in a row. While we beat them twice during the regular season, both games were uncomfortably close and both were a long time ago--December and January. Mazyck torched us for 20 in the second game and 18 in the first. Sadie Edwards and Minyon More were high double digit scores in December and Kristin Simon in January. In short, they have 4 players who can beat us. As for our offense, McPhee and Carrington carried us in January; it was McPhee, Smith and Williams in December.
We led for the entire game but, like the first two times we played, were never able to put SC away. Williams and Sniezek had particularly outstanding games, which nearly balanced the 22 points we gave up to Mazyck and the 26 points we gave to SC via free throws. In the end, SC was simply too tired and not deep enough to prevail.
Flow of the Game:
A terrific start to the game, with Williams hitting two long treys, Marta missing one but driving to the basket and sinking two free throws. Trahk had to call a time out down 10-2. U$C got a couple of favorable calls and scratched their way back with 5 free throws, but as time was running out in the quarter Carrington launched a half court shot that rattled inside the cage and dropped through. Stanford 21 SC 9 after the first.
Sniezek continued to pace us in the second quarter, assembling one of her better games, with 10 points, a couple of very pretty assists and a hustle steal. The Princeton offense has paid a few dividends when she found Britt running the baseline for an easy layup. Then Marta picked up her second foul and went out and the offense slowed some. Fortunately (and uncharacteristically) we hit 11/14 free throws in the half. Unfortunately, after Kiana's two treys, we went on to miss 6 of the next 7 treys. We got Simon into foul trouble and she had to sit more several minutes in the quarter, but apart from a couple of Alanna baskets in the paint Simon's absence did not seem to help. Tara at halftime indicated that we needed to take better care of the ball (we had 7 turnovers) and get the ball to Britt more. Stanford 34 U$C 24 at the half.
The third quarter started badly with Smith and Sniezek each picking up their third fouls and heading for the bench. SC cut the lead to 7 but Carrington made two acrobatic layups and Williams sank a trey to stem the tide. But SC cut it to 7 again on Mazyck's continued stellar play. Jerome, in the game for Smith who was sitting with 3 fouls, sank our second buzzer-beater trey to finish the quarter with Stanford ahead 52-39.
SC was showing signs of fatigue even in the third quarter. But the refs called a flurry of fouls on us, including several questionable calls, such as when McPhee got a clear block and was whistled. Midway through the fourth quarter SC was 22/25 on free throws and we had three starters with 4 fouls: Smith, Sniezek, and Johnson. We played with four guards for a bit. SC closed to within 6 by the 4:35 mark. Then a turning point, when Alanna got the benefit of the doubt against an almost stationary defender and made a two-and-one. But the whistles continued, and after a review at the other end Kaylee collected an unsportsmanlike foul when wrestling for a rebound and fouled out. But as time wound down we were able to keep scoring with free throws and layups by Williams and Smith, and finished the game up 69-59.
As a team, we were relatively even in rebounding and kept our turnovers down to 12. There were a similar number of fouls on both sides although we wound up with fewer free throws. SC took 56 shots to our 54 shots. So what was the difference in the game? We shot 43% and 33% from three, SC shot 27% and 17% from three. Give this game to our defense, despite letting Mazyck hit 7/17 shots, held everyone else to an erratic and ineffective 8/39.
On offense, Williams was superb, with 18 points including four treys. She did not have an assist, though, and did have 4 turnovers. But on an ominous note, she limped off the court and went to the locker room a couple minutes before the end of the game, pointing to her instep.
Sniezek deserves mention. All of her scoring was in the first quarter, but in addition to her welcome 10 points she had 5 assists and only 1 turnover.
Smith scored 14 points on 6/13 despite sitting for stretches in foul trouble. She never dominated, but she made plays in every quarter and was especially effective when Simon was sitting in foul trouble.
Carrington was a major difference-maker, coming off the bench to score 13 on 5/10 shooting, but also grabbing 6 rebounds and a steal and a lot of energy, not to mention her half court trey at the end of the first quarter.
McPhee was held to just 7 points, mainly because she was the subject of Mazyck's tough defense. By absorbing that attention, she helped Sniezek, Williams, and Carrington get offensive opportunities.
Johnson was very effective on defense--holding Simon without a basket in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out.
Fingall, Dodson, and Jerome all got into the game, and Jerome made a buzzer beating trey from the corner at the end of the third quarter. She looked like Bonnie out there.
A good solid team effort and we get to move on. We looked rested and ready, but SC is a much more serious opponent than many realize, and this was a difficult quarterfinal game. As we move on, we need to find ways to get McPhee involved in the offense even when the other team sells out everything to stop her. And we need to find a way to get in front of speedy guards like Mazyk. But all in all, a solid win against a good but tired team. Now we have to hope that Williams is 100% for tomorrow.