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Women’s basketball corrals Longhorns in upset at home
Brittany McPhee brings the ball towards the net, aptly avoiding defenders. The junior guard and her team made a statement with a definitive win against Texas on Monday night. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Women’s basketball corrals Longhorns in upset at home

After dropping its past two matches against Texas, including a heartbreaking upset in 2014 that ended the Cardinal’s 28-game home win streak, No. 11 Stanford women’s basketball (2-0) knew it had its work cut out for it while hosting No. 8 Texas on Monday evening. Despite Texas losing a solid core this past offseason, the Cardinal knew they needed big performances all around the roster in order to clinch an improbable victory.

The team went above and beyond that call, ending the night with a resounding 71-59 win over Texas in a statement win early in Tara VanDerveer’s 31st season as Stanford’s head coach.

“[The losing streak against Texas] was always in the back of my head. Karlie [Samuelson] mentioned it in the huddle: ‘We haven’t beaten them since freshman year,” senior forward Erica McCall said. “But we didn’t really focus on the past too much, especially when we went to the scouting target. We really just focused on this present team and I think we really executed well against them.”

McCall’s veteran leadership only complemented her stellar all-around performance Monday evening in which the forward had 17 points, five rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots as a powerhouse for the Cardinal.

Yet the biggest performance of the night came from junior guard Brittany McPhee, who scored a career-high 28 points in an efficient and dominant performance, going 11-for-15 from the field including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. McPhee found a great shooting rhythm early off smart back-door screens from a variety of Cardinal teammates, catalyzing a rally late in the second quarter that give Stanford a crucial 35-29 lead.

Coming out of the halftime break, Stanford immediately drew up a play to free McPhee for a stunning catch-and-shoot three-pointer off an assist from sophomore guard Marta Sniezek, which McPhee drained. The shot put the Cardinal up nine just 13 seconds into the second half and provided a near perfect description of Stanford offensively on the night.

Once the Cardinal took control in the second quarter, VanDerveer and her squad never looked back, ending the game with only two lead changes and a lead as large as 17 early in the fourth quarter.

“Everyone on our team really was focused,” VanDerveer said. “We worked really hard all last week getting ready for Texas. I thought Brit had just a spectacular game offensively and defensively. Just great team basketball, and I’m really excited to build on it.”

The Cardinal prospered off of efficient basketball, including heavy ball movement and quick hands all around the court. Stanford ultimately ended the night with 18 assists, with every single player getting at least one assist on the evening, and the offense looked very promising for this early in the season.

Nevertheless, not everything went smoothly for Stanford offensively, as the Cardinal turned the ball over 20 times throughout the night in addition to allowing 12 second-chance points, primarily in the first quarter, which helped the Longhorns jump to an early lead. Stanford’s offensive mistakes ultimately were salvaged by great transition defense that held Texas to only nine points off turnovers and no fast break points at all.

When asked about the ball movement “clicking,” VanDerveer remained realistic about how Stanford played in the game, saying, “I would give our ball movement a C compared to what I’ve seen in practice. I think we are capable of even more and better and quicker.”

The Longhorns’ leading returning scorer Brooke McCarty scored 20 points yet went 8-for-20 on the night, ultimately highlighting the disparity in the efficiencies of the two offenses. After two strong starts to each respective halves, Texas was held to a meager 11 and nine points in the second and fourth quarter respectively, and the Cardinal defense ensured victory more and more with each stop in the fourth quarter.

While Stanford definitely has learning takeaways from its victory, the Cardinal undoubtedly made a statement this early in the season as they prepare for hopefully another long campaign into the postseason. Stanford prepares to host two more games this upcoming weekend against non-conference opponents Gonzaga and CSUN.

 

Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.