It all looked easy for Stanford.
The No. 1 overall seed experienced little trouble against No. 5 Missouri State, advancing to the Elite Eight with a 89-62 win. The Cardinal have no shortage of options, can keep rotating in offensive power and are used to being on the road in a bubble experience.
Stanford has hit at least 13 3-pointers in each of their three tournament games, a mark South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has noted in the other half of the bracket. Their team efficiency has not dropped off and neither has their defensive starts after taking a 49-26 lead at halftime. They hit shots, they stop shots and they’re bulldozing through opponents to their 21st Elite Eight berth.
Stanford will play the winner of No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 6 Oregon in the other part of the Alamo region. That game tips at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Wilson keys balanced attack
Anna Wilson, a fifth-year guard, led the way in a career offensive day. Typically the Cardinal’s defensive engine — she breathlessly told ESPN’s Holly Rowe “I love playing defense” at halftime — Wilson has been nearly perfect from the floor in the tournament.
She was 5-for-6 overall for 13 points with six rebounds, three steals and two assists. All four of her first-half field goals were good.
Wilson, the younger sister of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, hit both shot attempts in the first round and was 4-for-5 in the second round, making all three 3-point attempts.
Sophomore guard Hannah Jump led the team in scoring off the bench. She poured in 17 on 6-for-9 shooting and made 5-of-7 3-pointers.
Senior Kiana Williams, a San Antonio native, scored 16 with four rebounds and four assists. Her first-quarter plays sent Missouri State into an insurmountable deficit.
Cameron Brink didn’t let the Bears get much near the basket. The 6-foot-4 freshman forward had five blocks and tipped in seven points.
Haley Jones scored 11 with eight rebounds, two short of the team-high of 10 by 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Ashten Prechtel off the bench. Jones and Prechtel each had a team-high five assists.
Fran Belibi came off the bench for eight points and five rebounds and had arguably the most exciting almost play of the second half. On a fast break she had a clear lane to a dunk — which she’s thrown down in games before — but couldn’t set her feet and went in for a close layup. The bench went wild and put viewers on Belibi dunk watch for the rest of the seven minutes.
Stanford’s stellar tournament start
The Cardinal made 15 3-pointers to tie a season-high. They made 15 in the first round against Utah Valley and 13 in the second against Oklahoma State.
Of the 249 points they’ve scored in the tournament, more than half (129) are from beyond the arc. In the regular season, they were getting a third of their points from 3-point range, per Her Hoop Stats.
Missouri State made eight of their own, but were 20-for-64 overall. There were too many weapons to defend and Wilson shut down their offensive star in senior guard Brice Calip. Calip averages 13.5 points per game, but was held without a field goal in the first half. She was 3-for-10 by game’s end for nine points with four rebounds and four assists.
The Bears did have big performances off the bench. Elle Ruffridge scored 18 and Abi Jackson had 11. It was going to take a Maryland-esque offense to keep up with Stanford on Sunday.
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