Belibi has a career high and No. 1 Stanford holds off Arizona State 68-60

Stanford completes sweep of Arizona Pac-12 schools

No. 1 Stanford (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) departed from a Southwest road trip with a sweep, capping the two-game stretch with a 68-60 victory over Arizona State (7-3, 3-3) Sunday afternoon. While the game had the makings of a blowout early on, it turned into a battle and the most competitive game so far this season for the Cardinal.

“We had to grind it out, and that’s what we did,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think that we really have to kind of take a look in the mirror. We have to play better.

The win against ASU came with four members of Stanford’s coaching and support staff missing from the weekend trip due to Covid-19 protocols. Also, freshman forward Cameron Brink, who averages 11.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, was not available for the game for precautionary reasons (non-Covid-19 related) after being injured in Friday’s game against Arizona.

The triumph gives Stanford seven straight road wins as the team has not been able to play on their home court since November due to a Santa Clara County health mandate prohibiting contact sports. The Cardinal started the weekend road trip to the Grand Canyon State with a dominant 81-54 win over Arizona in Tucson.

Today, the Stanford led wire to wire against the Sun Devils, racing out to a 13-0 lead. The Cardinal’s defense thwarted ASU offensively as the Sun Devils did not score until the 3:34 mark in the period. After the first ten minutes, Stanford led 19-4.

Early in the second quarter, Cardinal sophomore forward Fran Belibi reached double digits with 10 points after a layup at 9:08 to put her team up by 17, 21-4. However, it was not easy for Stanford as ASU surged offensively with a balanced scoring effort and great defense.

Turnovers hampered the Cardinal’s flow and the team also had trouble in the foul department with sophomore guard and starter Haley Jones committing three in the first half.

“I thought we did some really nice things in the first quarter,” VanDerveer said. “But even in the first quarter, we missed layups, and we were fouling too much and turning the ball over. Those three things really hurt us throughout the game.”

The Sun Devils went from shooting 0.06% (1-16) in the first quarter to 44% (8-18) in the second period. Stanford’s production went from 69% (9-13) in the first ten minutes to 40% (6-15) in the second.

While ASU outscored the Cardinal 21-15 in the second period, the visitors went into halftime with a 34-25 advantage.

At the outset of the third quarter, ASU continued to chip away at Stanford’s lead. The Sun Devils managed to get within four after outscoring the visitors 11-8 to begin the period. However, the Cardinal responded with a 14-6 run of its own.

While ASU continued to fight, Stanford’s depth, even without high-scoring freshman phenom Brink, was too much for the home team. Belibi finished with a career-high 23 points plus 12 rebounds. Senior guard Kiana Williams was also in double figures with 16 points. She played all 40 minutes yet committed zero turnovers.

Freshman guard Jaddan Simmons led ASU with 16 points while junior guard Taya Hanson added 15. VanDerveer praised the performance of the Sun Devils in her assessment of the matchup.

“You know, every game in our conference is going to be a tough game. We know we’re going to get everyone’s A-game and we did and hats off to Charli [Turner Thorne] and her staff. They’re very aggressive. They have a young team. They worked really hard. They ran things really well, especially their freshmen.”

The Sun Devils head to the Pacific Northwest to face Washington State and Washington next weekend.

In their schedule, Stanford is listed as hosting Oregon and Oregon State next weekend. However, due to the Santa Clara County edict, the site of the games is yet to be determined. The team is expected to announce the location of the games on Monday.

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