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Significant signs of improvement for Stanford women hoops

Alanna Smith scored 33 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in Stanford's overtime loss to Ohio State. Photo by Bob Drebin/

If Stanford could play Ohio State every couple of weeks in women's basketball, coach Tara VanDerveer could get a good read on her team at various points in the season.

The second time around against the ninth-ranked Buckeyes was so much better than the first time around, it's easy to compare how much better Stanford is now that it has a few games under its belt.

Anna Wilson
The Cardinal fell to Ohio State, 94-82, in overtime Saturday night in the championship game of the Paly4Kay Shootout in Las Vegas and there are several things to which VanDerveer can point.

Junior Alanna Smith, for example, gave Stanford career-highs of 33 points and 16 rebounds and has clearly established herself as a premiere player as the Cardinal (4-3) prepares to play at USF on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Using Las Vegas as her backdrop, Smith grabbed 35 rebounds and scored 71 points in the three-day tournament to lift her scoring average to 15.1 from 8.8 on the season and her rebounding average to 8.3 from 5.8.

"I think she's playing great," VanDerveer said. "Rebounding; her shot selection has really improved. She scored really well. We're counting on her to do a lot. She's stepping up to be a prime-time player."

Sophomore Anna Wilson, hobbled by injuries last year, joined the list of players who have had breakout nights. She scored a career-high 21 points, making seven 3-pointers. Wilson scored a total of 26 points in 12 previous games. She doubled her career output of 3-pointers.

It bodes well for Stanford that it played so well against the Buckeyes, until the overtime period, without the services of leading scorer Brittany McPhee, out with a left foot injury. She's missed the past five games.

"I thought we shot the ball better than we have," VanDerveer said. "We didn't rebound as well as we needed to and we didn't keep them off the glass they way we needed to."

Smith and Wilson were each named to the all-tournament team.

Stanford missed its last six field goal attempts, and was held scoreless for the final 2:51 of overtime as Ohio State scored the final 13 points of the contest.

"We want to improve every day," VanDerveer said. "We want to use playing Connecticut and Ohio State as measuring sticks. Let's see how far we've come. We've got a lot of work to do."

The Cardinal held a 33-26 lead at halftime, as Smith and Wilson combined for 22 points. Smith already had a double-double at the half with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Wilson hit 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point line.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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