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Women’s basketball tames Bulldogs, advances to NCAA Round of 32
Freshman guard Kiana Williams (middle) continued her big performances in big games with 21 points in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the win over Gonzaga.(AL CHANG/isiphotos.com)

Women’s basketball tames Bulldogs, advances to NCAA Round of 32

Aided by 21 points from freshman guard Kiana Williams, 20 points from junior forward Alanna Smith and a double-double from senior Brittany McPhee, fourth-seeded Stanford women’s basketball (23-10) rolled past thirteenth-seeded Gonzaga (27-6) during the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.

The Cardinal punched their ticket to the second round with an 82-68 win.

With the victory, Stanford improves its record to 35-4 in home NCAA tournament games in 20 appearances.

The Bulldogs took the lead early as they scored on the first two possessions of the game, but Stanford quickly turned it around and took, on a three pointer by Williams, a lead it would not give up.

The Cardinal were dominant inside the paint, scoring 38 in the lane while crashing the boards on every shot attempt. Stanford finished with 42 boards, and outrebounded the Bulldogs by 15. The team also used its 17 offensive boards to collect 15 second-chance points.

Earning a double-double on the night, McPhee led Stanford in rebounding with 11, and also chipped in 11 points for the Cardinal. The senior filled her stat sheet with six assists and two steals, despite shooting 4-of-12 from the field.

“[McPhee] tried so hard to just win the game,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “You know, maybe her shot wasn’t going in, but she found other things to do. Her rebounding was great.”

Stanford locked in on defense in the second and third quarters to push its lead up to 20 points early in the fourth. The team finished with eight blocks and eight steals, for 12 points of turnovers. Smith and senior forward Kaylee Johnson had four and three rejections, respectively.

However, it was on the offensive end that Stanford was answering every single Gonzaga charge. The team went 30-for-59 from the field, and made 11 three-pointers on a 50 percent shooting display from downtown. Williams, who led all scorers, had five treys from distance, including two jumpers off the dribble. She combined with sophomore Nadia Fingall and Smith to hit back to back-to-back threes late in the third to put the Cardinal up seventeen.

“I’m just excited to be playing with my teammates, excited that we’re hosting and that we get two more home games for our seniors,” Williams said. “I was just out there having fun with my team and just executed our game plan and knocked down shots.”

Coming off the bench for Stanford, DiJonai Carrington chipped in 11 points and five boards in 19 minutes. The sophomore also had a block and a steal on the defensive end, and continues to impress at the sixth woman position.

“Having someone like DiJonai, who you know every time she’s playing, she’s going to come out and give a 110 percent,” Smith said. “She’s like leader of the aggressive club, we like to call.”

Gonzaga attempted to rally back behind 21 points from Jill Barta and 14 from Laura Stockton, but the Cardinal stayed on top by consistently producing offensive output.

“I felt like there were several stretches where we would have a great offensive play and then we didn’t get a stop on the other end,” Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier said. “They beat us in the percentage game.”

Up next, the Cardinal will play No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast who upset No. 5 Missouri earlier on Saturday. The matchup will be a challenge for the Cardinal as FGCU is only 13 makes away from  reaching the NCAA single-season record in three-pointers made.

“Going forward, we’re going to need everything (…) playing against Florida Gulf Coast, they are a really unorthodox team and we’re going to be very challenged,” VanDerveer said.

Tune in to ESPN2 on Monday night at 6 p.m. PST as Stanford plays to reach its tenth consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearance in Maples Pavilion.

 

Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.