No. 3 Stanford routs Morgan State 91-36 in season opener for reigning champion

Nov. 11, 2021 (Stanford, CA). Photo © Baranduin Briggs, all rights reserved.
Nov. 11, 2021 (Stanford, CA). Photo © Baranduin Briggs, all rights reserved.

Stanford, CA – While the defending national champion Stanford (1-0) had no trouble putting away visiting Morgan State (0-2), the game was significant as it marked the first time the Cardinal played with fans in attendance at Maples Pavilion since Feb. 24, 2020. The No. 3-ranked team in the nation spent most of last season on the road before settling down in one location for the NCAA Tournament ahead of winning the title in San Antonio.

“It’s really fun to be back in Maples with fans,” Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer said in her opening comments postgame. The game gave the winningest coach in women’s college basketball history her 1,126th victory.

This season, all but one of the team’s players return from the championship crew. In addition, VanDerveer added the program’s first-ever graduate transfer, guard Jordan Hamilton (Northwestern), plus a highly ranked recruiting class that includes three guards and a forward. The mix of high-performing returnees and talented newcomers makes the team deeper and more versatile than last season.

“I think that this is a great first game for us,” VanDerveer said. “I think this team gave our team a little bloody nose, and then our team responded. Our first quarter was great. Our third quarter was great.”

Stanford began on a dominant note winning the jump ball and scoring soon after with a driving layup from sophomore forward Cameron Brink. Morgan State junior guard Adia Brisker nailed a trey at 6:31 for the Bears, but it would remain the only points for the visitors all quarter.

Six players put up points for the Cardinal in the first quarter, and eight saw action. Morgan State shot just 8% from the floor (1-13) compared to 50% (7-14) by Stanford.

Heading into the second period, the Cardinal led 21-3. Stanford added more reserves into the rotation in the second quarter. Morgan State improved their shooting to 22% from the floor, and while the home team shot 60% (6-10), free throws made all the difference. Stanford only outscored the Bears by two points, 18-16 in the period. Morgan State made more trips to the line, 12-of-14 (85.7%) compared to 3-of-7 (42.9%) for Stanford.

“I think we have to do a better job of not sending a team to the free-throw line and taking care of the basketball,” VanDerveer said in response to her team’s performance in the second ten minutes.

Nevertheless, at the half, the Cardinal led 39-19.

The third quarter for the Bears went much like the first as they only scored three points. Stanford put up 24 capped by a three-point shot by junior guard Hannah Jump at the buzzer to end the frame.

With a 63-22 advantage, three Cardinal players were in double figures heading into the last period: senior guard Lexie Hull (11), junior forward Fran Belibi (10), and sophomore forward Cameron Brink (10).

Belibi was the team’s leading scorer with 12 points plus four rebounds. Overall, 14 players scored for Stanford. For Morgan State, Adia Brisker, had a game-high 22 points plus four rebounds. Only two other players scored for the Bears.

The road does not get any easier for Morgan State as they travel to the Midwest next to take on Missouri on Sunday before another away trip at Syracuse on Nov. 17.

Stanford hosts No. 25 Texas on Sunday. After the game, the team will hold a national championship celebration, and members of last season’s squad will receive their championship rings.

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