Underclassmen have a big impact for Stanford in season opener as VanDerveer bests her Princeton offense “tutors”

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STANFORD – With the luxury of a deep roster that includes talent spread across classes, Stanford throttled UC Davis 71-43 in the season opener for both teams at Maples Pavilion Wednesday night. Led by Australian national team member, Alanna Smith, the Cardinal overcame a shaky first quarter to dominate the Aggies and come away with a 28-point victory.

Learning the Princeton

“It’s great to get going. Davis is a very tough team for us to play, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Give them a lot of credit. They’re very scrappy. They have a really top-notch player in Morgan Bertsch. They know what we’re doing.”

The main reason the Aggies know the Cardinal well is because the UC Davis coaches taught VanDerveer and her staff the Princeton offensive basketball strategy over the last year and a half.

“I don’t know if people are aware of this, but their coaches are my tutors. They taught us how to run Princeton. Jen [Gross] and Joe [Teramoto] and their staff came down three times for hours and hours and hours to teach us how to run stuff. They are incredible people, tremendous coaches. I think I learned from the best. So, I told Jen before the game, ‘if we play well, that’s a credit to you.’”

Overcoming a Slow Start

At the outset, it appeared as if the teams were going to battle in a close contest. UC Davis redshirt senior forward Morgan Bertsch got things started with a jumper from beyond the arc while Stanford had trouble taking care of the ball early on, committing three turnovers in the first two minutes, mostly from bad passes.

However, the Cardinal recovered quickly to tie up the contest and then take the lead at 8:02 after free throws from junior forward Nadia Fingall. Stanford never trailed again yet UC Davis managed to nip at their heels for the duration of the first period. The Cardinal had a slim 17-14 lead heading into the second period.

Stanford created some distance in the second period, outscoring the Aggies 19-10. Sophomore starting point guard Kiana Williams led the way as she went into the break with 14 points that included three treys. Williams did not start after the half and did not return to the game. Freshman Jenna Brown started in her place in the third quarter.

All three of Stanford’s freshmen saw action simultaneously for much of the third period. First-year forward Lexie Hull, who started the game for the Cardinal, was joined by her twin sister Lacie. Lexie was a workhouse, tallying the most minutes of any Stanford player. The trio of freshman helped the team stay the course as Stanford outscored UC Davis 21-10 in the third period. Australian phenom Smith, fresh from an early fall stint at the World Cup with her Aussie Opals, carried the offensive load, scoring 10 points in the quarter. Stanford had a 57-34 lead going into the last ten minutes.

Lexie picked up where Smith left off at the outset of the fourth quarter, scoring the first two baskets of the period. UC Davis did not let up in trying to mount a comeback, but Stanford’s defense stymied the offensive efforts of the Aggies.

“I thought we competed pretty well for the first half, but we’ve still got a lot of growing to do with this team,” UC Davis head coach Jennifer Gross said. “Our goal was to compete for 40 minutes. I thought we competed well in stretches, but we still have some work to do. Our team knows our mission is just to get better every single day and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Bertsch led the Aggies with 16 points plus five rebounds. Her efforts marked her 36th consecutive double-digit scoring performance. Junior forward Nina Bessola was also in double figures with 11 points along with four rebounds.

For Stanford, Smith paced Stanford with 16 points. Williams added 14 points while Hull finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. She also nabbed four steals. Sophomore forward Maya Dodson added 10 points and six rebounds.

Looking Ahead

UC Davis goes home to host Pacific on Sunday.

“Everybody was disappointed, obviously, with the result,” Gross said, “but we have a group that’s really hungry to get better and there wasn’t a lot of moping. It was ‘hey, let’s get back to work tomorrow’ and we’ll continue to get better and, hopefully, we can pick up a ‘W’ on Sunday.”

Stanford stays home this week to host Idaho on Sunday. VanDerveer was not without criticism of her team’s effort and gave some insight on what she wants her team to work on before the weekend’s contest.

“I was kind of disappointed with some of our fouls. I thought we could play more aggressively without fouling as much.”

Overall, Stanford committed 18 personal fouls compared to 17 by UC Davis.

“We need to take care of the ball better, we need to shoot a better percentage,” VanDerveer added. “We had some good looks…We missed some shots we needed to make.”


  • Underclassmen logged the most minutes for Stanford with freshman Lexie Hull tallying 27 minutes. Sophomore Maya Dodson played 26 minutes. No other players saw more than 18 minutes of action.
  • Stanford scored 38 points in the paint compared to 12 by UC Davis. The Cardinal also outpaced the Aggies in second-chance points, 14 to 5.
  • Nine players scored for Stanford including four in double figures.
  • The performance for Bertsch moved her to within 27 points of Carol Rische’s all-time UC Davis scoring record with 1,684 career points.


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