One-seed Stanford ladies’s basketball (28-5, 15-3 Pac-12) opened the NCAA event with a dominant 92-49 win over 16-seed Sacred Coronary heart (19-14, 12-4 NEC). After a good first quarter, the Cardinal pulled away with a formidable mixture of stifling defensive physicality and relentless offense, as 5 gamers reached double-digit factors.
The lead-up to the sport was dominated by the information that certainly one of Stanford’s All-Individuals, junior ahead Cameron Brink, was out with a non-COVID sickness. The 2022 Pac-12 Defensive Participant of the Yr leads Stanford in scoring (14.9 factors per recreation) and rebounding (9.5 boards per recreation) this season, and is an integral chief and presence for the staff. Head coach Tara VanDerveer responded by giving senior ahead Fran Belibi her first begin of the season, whereas additionally allotting extra minutes to freshman heart Lauren Betts, underlining Stanford’s dimension.
“I didn’t need to inform [my players] that [Brink’s] sub was a 6’7 freshman,” stated Pioneers head coach Jessica Mannetti in reference to Stanford’s depth. “[But] they figured that out rapidly.”
The 2 groups have been well-matched within the first quarter because the Pioneers made a bodily begin. Belibi was battling for rebounds however Stanford’s photographs weren’t changing early. Nevertheless, they nullified the Pioneers’ offense within the opening possessions and the sport was low-scoring halfway via the quarter. The Cardinal’a primary factors got here from a Belibi layup, however spectacular Pioneer freshman Ny’ceara Pryor scored both facet of Belibi’s basket to present the Pioneers a slim benefit. Senior guard Haley Jones air-balled a layup, as Stanford had not but discovered its rhythm.
Sophomore ahead Kiki Iriafen halved the deficit with a decisive end as she obtained the ball from freshman guard Talana Lepolo – who had seven assists in her first event recreation – and put it straight as much as rating. Betts checked in and commenced her spectacular afternoon – making two instantaneous performs off the bench. First, she disrupted the attacker to drive a wayward shot, earlier than receiving the ball within the paint and flipping it in with out assistance from the glass. All through the sport, Betts was a two-way risk and completed with 10 factors, seven rebounds and a team-leading three blocks.
“Lauren had an incredible recreation,” VanDeerveer stated.
“All of our practices are tremendous aggressive and undoubtedly put me on this place [to perform],” Betts added.
The Pioneers sunk the primary three-point try of the sport earlier than senior guard Hannah Bounce missed one on the subsequent play. Pryor continued to trigger issues for Stanford within the first quarter as she crossed up junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu and – though Betts blocked her lay-up – Emma-Nnopu dedicated a foul concurrently.
After a media timeout, Bounce acquired going with a shot from behind the arc and the Pioneers missed a shot on their subsequent possession, permitting Jones to drive the size of the courtroom and rating to present Stanford its first lead. Freshman guard Indya Nivar stole the ball from Pryor and scored a midrange jumper on the different finish. However nearly instantly the sport was tied as Sacred Coronary heart scored a triple, marking the top to a fast alternate of factors by either side.
The Cardinal grew the result in 5 within the final minutes of the primary quarter and wouldn’t look again. Jones offered the spark with a reverse layup after a behind-the-back dribble. Stanford’s final possession of the quarter threw the gang into pandemonium as Lepolo picked out Bounce, who feigned a return cross, dribbled inside and knocked down the triple. The Pioneers acquired a shot off in time however it hit the rim timidly; the quarter ended with the Cardinal on high, 23-18.
“[The first quarter] will sit with me for the remainder of my life,” Pryor stated. “We stayed with Stanford.”
Within the second quarter, the Cardinal outscored the Pioneers 22-8 and took a commanding lead into half-time. Lepolo and Nivar performed collectively as Stanford deployed only one ahead to start the quarter. Jones was adjudged to have fouled Pryor on a play that gave the impression to be a clear block; boos rained down from the Maples crowd and the freshman missed each free throws. After almost three minutes, Sacred Coronary heart sank its first factors of the quarter however Lepolo fed Jones to attain twice in 14 seconds off Pioneer turnovers. Stanford opened the quarter on a 9-2 run and attained its first double-digit lead of the sport.
The Pioneers noticed extra photographs miss and couldn’t corral a rebound because the Cardinal went for the kill. Belibi continued her effective first-quarter efficiency, continuously receiving the ball on the low submit place, spinning or pump-faking to push back her defender, earlier than scoring off the glass. She additionally chipped in with a block and a steal and was substituted to an enormous spherical of applause. Betts had comparable success, because the Pioneers discovered it tough to match Stanford’s top and talent within the paint.
“It was tough clearly,” stated Sacred Coronary heart ahead Kelsey Wooden. “They’ve 5 inches on me, so within the NEC, we’re probably not used to seeing that.”
With six seconds left within the quarter, Lepolo carried the ball ahead for the Cardinal. She appeared to haven’t any time to decide however she laid the ball to Bounce, who did the remainder, arcing an ideal three which swished in because the buzzer sounded. Bounce’s shot broke the file for essentially the most three-pointers scored in a season in Stanford historical past. The Cardinal led comfortably 45-26 at halftime.
Within the third quarter, Stanford utilized its depth to proceed inserting strain on the Pioneers. Bounce continued sinking threes, ending the evening 4-7. Stanford deployed a full-court press as properly, and the Pioneers had fewer and fewer scoring alternatives. Their struggles have been compounded as Pryor misplaced a few of her first-half spark and missed a couple of photographs. After a collision with Jones, Pryor picked up her fourth private foul and was compelled to sit down for a lot of the second half. Successive steals by Emma-Nnopu and Belibi underlined Stanford’s continued aggressive play, even with a big lead. The rating after the third quarter was 73-37 in Stanford’s favor.
Within the fourth quarter, Stanford noticed the sport out effectively. Sophomore guard Elena Bosgana performed properly off the bench, reaching 9 factors in simply 14 minutes of motion. VanDerveer rested key gamers like Bounce and Jones, who sometimes are stretched to greater than 35 minutes a recreation.
“[I want to] relaxation her extra and maintain her recent so she has the legs for her shot,” VanDerveer stated of Bounce. “She regarded very assured on the market.”
Senior ahead Ashten Prechtel acquired extra minutes within the fourth quarter and scored because the Cardinal hit 90 factors for simply the second time in 2023. It was additionally encouraging to see minutes for younger freshmen guards Stavi Papadaki and Lauren Inexperienced, the latter carrying the ball within the ultimate minutes. The sport ended 92-49, as Stanford moved on to the subsequent spherical.
The Cardinal will subsequent face eight-seed Ole Miss (24-8, 11-5 SEC) within the Spherical of 32 at Maples Pavilion. Tip-off is about for six:30 p.m. PT on Sunday.