STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Tara VanDerveer presented flowers to each of her three Stanford seniors and told them sorry their parents or family members couldn’t be there in person at Maples Pavilion for senior day as is usual custom.
Then, there they all were — moms and dads, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, even a few aunts and uncles — brought in on the big screen via video call sharing their congratulations and love.
“This is our very first Zoom senior day,” VanDerveer shared in a beautifully touching event given the COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.
Kiana Williams scored 12 points in her final home game and defensive stopper fifth-year senior Anna Wilson added three steals playing for the final time on The Farm, and the fourth-ranked Cardinal used a dominant second half to beat California 72-33 on Sunday to close out the regular season.
“We’ll be in San Antonio soon,” Williams told her family in Texas, referencing the Final Four to be played in her hometown.
“Williams family, get ready!” added VanDerveer. “We’ll keep working hard.”
Williams, Wilson and Alyssa Jerome received postgame bouquets and took turns sharing remarks at mid-court as their teammates showered them with top memories.
Hannah Jump added 14 points with four 3-pointers for Stanford (22-2, 19-2 Pac-12), which won its 11th straight game since a rare two-game skid in January.
Hall of Famer VanDerveer took advantage of a chance to use her entire bench to prepare for the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament as Stanford closed the game with a 9-0 run over the final 3:35.
Freshman leading scorer Dalayah Daniels had 11 points and seven rebounds for Cal (1-15, 1-12), coming off its lone victory of the season against Arizona State last Sunday.
“We’ve got a lot of growth on this team and we’re going to keep fighting,” said coach Charmin Smith, who played for VanDerveer at Stanford and later coached with her here before going to Berkeley.
The Golden Bears stayed within 31-25 at halftime outshooting Stanford 44-39 %. The team lost three guards to season-ending injuries that made it tough to field a full team during stretches — and Cal had nine games postponed.
“Charmin’s very resilient,” VanDerveer said. “She’s a great coach, she’s a great person. They have really talented young players that have gotten thrown into the deep end of the pool.”
Leilani McIntosh was held to nine points on 3-for-14 shooting and missed all six of her 3-point tries coming off a career-high 21 points with four 3-pointers in the 67-55 victory over the Sun Devils.
The Cardinal earned their sixth straight in the rivalry and 10th in the last 12.
Stanford won 83-38 — its largest since a 51-point win on Jan. 31, 1997 — in Berkeley on Dec. 13 just before COVID-19 health restrictions imposed by Santa Clara County sent the Cardinal on the road for more than two months living out of hotels as nomads.
Michelle Onyiah overcame a slow start to score eight points and grab eight rebounds for Cal, which was outscored 27-2 in the third quarter and missed eight straight shots in the third and again midway through the fourth quarter. Stanford outscored Cal 41-8 overall in the second half.
Stanford led 9-0 as Cal began 0 for 6 and was forced into five quick turnovers, then the Cardinal missed seven of eight shots.
MOVING ON UP
Williams’ basket in the waning moments of the first half gave her eight points to move past Alanna Smith and into 10th place on Stanford’s career scoring list. Williams also ranked
She is second on the program’s career list for 3-pointers with 282, and still has a chance at the top mark of 295 set by Candice Wiggins from 2005-08.
California: The Bears shot 1 for 15 from beyond the arc. … Cal has lost six straight on Stanford’s home floor in Maples Pavilion since the Bears’ last victory here on Feb. 22. 2015. … Senior Archer Olson, a former walk-on, played her final regular-season game and was honored by Stanford officials with flowers like the Cardinal seniors.
Stanford: The Cardinal forced Cal into 18 turnovers and scored 18 points off those miscues while committing just six — a big focus of VanDerveer of late to take better care of the ball.
The teams head to Las Vegas to begin the Pac-12 Tournament beginning Wednesday. Stanford has a first-round bye as No. 1 seed while Cal is set to face the fifth seed.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25