Cardinal women grab early advantage in Pac-12 opener | News | Palo Alto Online |


Cardinal women grab early advantage in Pac-12 opener

Alanna Smith had 14 points and 13 rebounds in Stanford's 76-65 victory over UCLA on Friday night. Photo by Richard Erstad/

Health is all you need. Playing with a full roster for the first time since the second game of the season, the unranked Stanford women's basketball team put together a complete effort to put its stamp on the Pac-12 title race.

Brittany McPhee scored 13 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter, Alanna Smith recorded a double-double and the Cardinal knocked off visiting No. 11 UCLA, 76-65, in the conference opener for both teams on Friday night.

Nadia Fingall
Nadia Fingall added 10 points for Stanford (7-6, 1-0), which hosts USC at 1 p.m. Sunday.

McPhee did all her damage in a mere 27 minutes, shooting nearly 63 percent from the floor and adding seven rebounds and four assists.

Smith was in her element, netting 14 points on 50 percent shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds. She also blocked three shots.

DiJonai Carrington returned to the court after missing a handful of games due to injury. She was limited to 10 minutes and made the most of them, scoring seven points, nailing a 3-pointer and grabbing five boards.

"Obviously it was great to have Brit and 'D' back," Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Our team came out and played with a lot of heart. Great team effort. Our defense worked hard."

Stanford shot 51.9 percent from the floor and dominated the rebounding column, 48-33. Marta Sniezek, who also had five assists, Fingall and Kaylee Johnson each grabbed six boards.

McPhee hit a jumper 33 seconds into the contest and the Cardinal never trailed. The Bruins (9-3, 0-1) missed their first four shots, presenting Stanford with an opening.

UCLA, picked to win the conference in a preseason coaches' poll, beat the Cardinal in Maples Pavilion last year. Stanford went on to win 13 of its next 14 games to reach the Final Four.

Stanford led by 12 after McPhee hit a jumper with 3:08 left in the second quarter. The Bruins rallied and drew within 32-29 by halftime.

Fingall hit a jumper with 3:47 left in the third quarter to put Stanford ahead by 10 points and UCLA again rallied to within 48-46 heading into the fourth quarter.

"No more 'best game' for Nadia, this is how she plays," VanDerveer said. "What a great boost to have her come in, play 25 minutes, get 10 points for us, three assists and rebounding."

The Bruins were still within 61-58 with 3:15 remaining to play but missed their final six shots, enabling the Cardinal to pull away.

Kiana Williams and Carrington combined to hit all six of their free throw attempts to secure the win.

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