Smith, Carrington lead No. 6 Stanford’s rout of Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona women’s basketball program is in the midst of a resurgence. The Wildcats had beaten two ranked teams in a row at home. Then No. 6 Stanford came to town and restored the natural order of things in the Pac-12.
Alanna Smith scored 20 points, DiJonai Carrington added 19 and the Cardinal rolled past Arizona 78-48 on Sunday to complete a two-game Pac-12 road sweep in the desert.
“They’re tough. They play really well, smart,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said, “and they exploit every weakness that you have as a team.”
Smith made 4 of 6 3-pointers, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked seven shots for the Cardinal, who turned the game into a rout with a 27-0 run at the end of the first half and the start of the second.
“Everyone’s a weapon, everyone’s a threat,” Smith said. “That’s what makes it easy for us offensively because it opens the floor, it spreads it out. We’re driving in and make pitches to anybody — easy money.”
Arizona’s Aari McDonald, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 26 points per game, scored 17 but was just 6 of 22 from the field and missed all six attempts from 3-point range.
“Aari McDonald is a terrific player,” Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer said. “We tried to guard by committee and have a lot of people on her.”
Overall the Wildcats shot 26 percent, 5 of 21 on 3s, and had to pick it up in the final quarter to bring the statistic that high.
“They made Aari really work and take tough shots,” Barnes said. “That’s what’s going to happen. She was leading the country in scoring. She’s one of the best guards in the country, so we have to find a way to get two or three more people to score.”
Stanford (14-1, 4-0 Pac-12), meanwhile, shot 44 percent and was 13 of 31 on 3s.
“I thought our defense played really hard but we made some big shots, too,” Vanderveer said.
Arizona (13-3, 3-2) had beaten ranked opponents — Arizona State and California — in its last two home games. But the Wildcats were no match for bigger, sharpshooting Stanford.
The Cardinal led by as many as 38 in beating the Wildcats for the seventh time in a row and 32nd in their last 33 meetings.
Stanford scored the first five points of the game and led all the way.
The Cardinal used an 11-3 run to go up 25-12 early in the second quarter. Baskets by Dominique McBryde and McDonald cut it to 25-16 with 6:35, then Stanford took off, and Arizona never scored the rest of the half.
Carrington sank consecutive 3s to ignite the 19-0 run that turned the game into a rout. Carrington sank another 3, Kiana Williams and Smith each added one and Stanford led at the half 44-16.
The run reached 27-0 when the Cardinal scored the first eight points of the second half, with Smith’s 3 giving Stanford its biggest lead at 52-16.
Arizona shot 19 percent (7 of 36) in the first half, making 2 of 15 shots in the second quarter, when the Wildcats were outscored 23-4. Stanford made 9 of 12 shots in the second quarter, including 5 of 6 3s.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Smith said. “That’s something Stanford’s done for years and years. Especially in this game, you’ve got to pride yourself in getting stops.”
McDonald took 14 shots in the first two quarters but made only four. She missed all four of her first-half 3s.
Stanford, with one of its more dominant performances of the season, made it clear where the real power in the Pac-12 still resides. The Cardinal dispatched No. 19 Arizona State before demolishing Arizona. Stanford’s conference schedule the rest of the way is favorable, with home games against Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State as well as a home-and-home set with Cal.
Arizona is vastly improved from previous years and has one of the country’s most intriguing players in McDonald but the Wildcats were tentative and off the mark shooting against Stanford. Maybe the Wildcats, who beat No. 24 California 60-55 on Friday, can be competitive again in their upcoming trip to the state of Oregon.
Stanford: At Colorado Friday night.
Arizona: At Oregon State Friday night.