Stanford shoots past No. 3 Baylor for 68-63 win at Maples
Stanford rebounded from a loss at Gonzaga two weeks ago to stun No. 3 Baylor 68-63 Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal (7-1) got a boost off the bench from Shannon Coffee and the defense limited Baylor to 25 fewer points than the Bears' season average.
It was No. 11 Stanford's first regular season win over a top-five team since 2014 at home against UConn.
Baylor brings an imposing frontcourt. Its leading scorers are 6-7 Kalani Brown (16.4 PPG), 6-4 Lauren Cox (12.3) and 6-2 NaLyssa Smith (11.8).
"I thought our team worked extremely hard, especially defensively guarding their leading scorers Brown and Cox," said head coach Tara VanDerveer. "Their third leading scorer hurt us a little bit. Smith, I thought she had a good game. They have outstanding players and it's a great win."
Stanford is well known for its detailed scout defense and the effort the players put into studying their opponents. VanDerveer said in addition to watching games from this season the Cardinal looked at how Oregon State beat Baylor last year. Former Cardinal forward Erica McCall wasn't surprised to watch the Cardinal take an early lead with good defense frustrating the Bears.
Stanford led 17-13 at the end of the first quarter and neither team was shooting the ball well. The good news for the Cardinal was the quality of the looks. They were good shots and it was only a matter of time that the Cardinal would calm down and start putting the ball through the net.
Stanford outscored Baylor 24-11 in the second quarter and hit five of nine three attempts in the quarter after starting the game 0-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Smith sparked the run and finished the game with 21 points. The team made 13-of-30 three-point shots, or 13-of-24 after the rough start.
“I have full confidence in my teammates," Smith said. "When Shannon is on the court, when Ki (Kiana Williams) is on the court, anybody is shooting the ball I have full confidence. If they miss it doesn’t matter. It’s a clean slate. I’m going to pass it to you anytime, anyplace. I think that’s something our team does really well. We have confidence in each other and we keep fighting even if we didn’t start off well from the three-point line. We continue to stay at it and you can see from the result we shot the ball really well.“
Coffee rewarded the confidence of her teammates with nine points on three critical three-pointers. She scored 14 last year against Baylor, although that was mostly in a game that was never in doubt during a Baylor rout.
"This was the best game of her career and she couldn't have picked a better time," VanDerveer said sitting next to a beaming Coffee.
“A lot of times she has led the cheers on the bench. Today people were cheering for her. It was really exciting. She made some big shots. But her defense I thought was really good. She plays smart. She knew where she was supposed to be on the court and she worked hard to be there.”
Coffee's most important shot was at the shot-clock buzzer after Baylor closed to within seven with 3:16 left in the game.
Stanford led by as many as 18 but improved play by Baylor coincided with Stanford failing at the free throw line. The Cardinal shot a horrible 9-of-21 from the line.
"I told our team that I thought we really shot ourselves in the foot by not knocking down free throws. We kept the door open with that," VanDerveer said.
Stanford didn't panic and leaned on their defensive effort and defensive rebounding. Baylor decisively won the rebounding margin in the second half after it was even at halftime. But the Cardinal limited Baylor to three second-chance points.
"We’ve focused in practice the past two weeks on boxing out, not letting them get second chance points," Coffee said. "That’s easy points for them. I’m really proud of our team for how much they focus in preparation and in this game. It was huge."
That was a major accomplishment against a team that feasts off putbacks with the towering Brown.
Stanford aso got hard-nosed efforts from DiJonai Carrington and Maya Dodson. Dodson provided a spark in the first half with five points and a block. Carrington was her typical feisty self inside against taller players and had six rebounds to go with 10 points.
Understandably the focus defensively was to stop Brown and Cox. It also was important, according to VanDerveer to limit points in transition. Baylor scored 11 fastbreak points. Stanford only had 10 turnovers and was disciplined on defense.
The win gives the Cardinal a great boost of confidence after a poor effort in Spokane against Gonzaga. Stanford won't get back guards Lexie Hull and Martz Sniezek until probably Pac-12 play.
The lack of guard depth was on Williams was noticeable. She was electric in the first half and brought the crowd to its feet several times. But she was worn down in the second half, VanDerveer said.