Kiana Williams felt a little sheepish as a point guard with no assists. She made up for it with a breakout offensive game.
Williams scored a season-high 27 points and No. 1 Stanford defeated Southern California 80-60 on Saturday night for its sixth straight victory.
Williams has been struggling with her shot and she came in averaging 9.6 points and 3.2 assists.
“It’s not like me,” she said. “I try to pass the ball and find my teammates, but the roles were reversed. They were finding me. I knew I had to stand out there and make the shots.”
The Cardinal (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) hasn’t lost in Los Angeles to the Trojans since 2008, and has won 11 in a row against them. Stanford closed out a week in which Tara VanDerveer became the winningest coach in women’s basketball history, passing the late Pat Summitt. VanDerveer now has 1,010 victories.
Lexie Hull had 16 points and nine rebounds in the Cardinal’s lowest-scoring game of the season. Freshman Cameron Brink added 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out in the final minutes. Haley Jones grabbed 12 rebounds, helping the Cardinal to a whopping 54-26 edge, including 22-4 on the offensive glass.
“Cameron Brink was spectacular for us,” VanDerveer said, “but she’s got to stay on the floor. You can’t play ten minutes and foul out.”
Endiya Rogers led the Trojans (3-2, 0-4) with 26 points.
Stanford raced to a 23-12 lead early in the second quarter after holding the Trojans to just two field goals in the opening period. From there, USC outscored the Cardinal 12-8 to trail 32-24 at halftime. The teams played to a 17-all tie in the second quarter.
“We have to have a sense of urgency,” Williams said. “We have that number one next to our name and teams are going to come out and play their best.”
Kyra White sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a basket by Rogers to help the Trojans close to 37-32 early in the third.
Stanford answered with a 17-9 run, with Williams hitting a 3-pointer and scoring another basket, to take a 54-41 lead into the fourth. Hull made back-to-back 3-pointers in the Cardinal’s spurt.
The Cardinal pulled away in the fourth, when Brink scored six straight points and Stanford outscored USC 26-19.
“Some of our big guns need to step up more,” VanDerveer said. “We have our work cut out for us.”
Stanford: The Cardinal has been on the road since Nov. 28 because of a no contact sports order by Santa Clara County, but the rigors of the road aren’t reflected in the results. The team is spending six days in Los Angeles for two games. Four of its first nine games were either postponed or canceled because of COVID-19.
USC: The Trojans won their season opener by 30 points against Loyola Marymount, but have struggled since. Their losses include a one-point defeat at then-No. 7 Arizona. Alissa Pili, last year’s Pac-12 freshman of the year, has been out with an ankle injury. Two other players are sidelined with knee injuries. “They’re a much better team than their record shows,” VanDerveer said.
WON’T BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
The Cardinal may be flying back to Northern California after Monday’s game, but the team won’t be going home for Christmas.
“Just be in my hotel room and Facetime my family,” Williams said. “As a senior, I’m making a sacrifice so I can play.”
VanDerveer said the Cardinal is staying in nice hotels and is usually in the same city for a stretch, so the hardest part is being away from family during the holidays.
“The uncertainty is stressful and the fact that these kids have been together since mid-September and they really need a break,” she said.
Four days after moving to the top of women’s basketball coaches, VanDerveer is enjoying the messages she’s received.
Among those she’s heard from: Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Steve Kerr, Dawn Staley, retired Texas coach Jody Conradt, UConn coach Geno Auriemma, former players, fellow Stanford coaches and referees.
“It’s been really overwhelming,” VanDerveer said. “I feel a lot of love.”
Stanford: Visits No. 11 UCLA on Monday.
USC: Hosts winless California on Monday. The Trojans have won two in a row over the Golden Bears.