SALT LAKE CITY — When the Utah women’s basketball team faced Stanford on Friday evening, the Utes got an up-close-and-personal look at just how good the fourth-ranked Cardinal really is.
“We just got beat by a really good team,” head coach Anthony Levrets said after his squad was defeated 87-61 at the Huntsman Center. “Their hot start really, really took the wind out of us.”
From the opening tip, Stanford was strong in every aspect of the game. The Cardinal outrebounded (43-28), outshot (57.4 percent to 38.6 percent) and outassisted (23-13) the Utes. The team scored more points in the paint (32-18), had a greater contribution from its bench (21-14), and took advantage of transition opportunities. It jumped out to a 15-4 run over the first four minutes of play and never slowed down.
“(You have) got to stop them in transition offense, and we normally do a really good job of that,” Levrets said. “I thought, here at elevation, we would have a chance to slow them down in transition. They just powered through it. They just punched us.”
In the first half alone, Stanford shot 65.5 percent from the field and hit 6 of 9 3-pointers. It finished the game with eight made 3s on 14 attempts.
“You’ve got to pick your poison with them,” Levrets said. “We had to go out and guard them out on the perimeter and then all of the sudden Chiney (Ogwumike) is in the paint by herself, one-on-one. You’re just in all kinds of trouble then.”
A consensus All-American, Ogwumike led the Cardinal, as she has done all season, with a game-high 30 points along with nine rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal. She shot 13 for 17 from the floor, including hitting her one 3-point attempt.
Guard Amber Orrange added 14 points and six assists and forward Mikaela Ruef had a game-best 14 rebounds, 12 of which were on the defensive end. Fourteen Stanford players recorded minutes Friday and 11 of them scored.
“Every one of those kids is a McDonald’s All-American,” Levrets said. “You don’t expect them to shoot like that from 3 on the road. They’re a good basketball team. They’re as good as they’ve been in a while.”
Meanwhile, Michelle Plouffe was the leading scorer for the Utes, recording 16 points. Freshman Emily Potter added 14 points and both forwards had eight rebounds. Point guard Danielle Rodriguez had 11 points and five assists.
As soon as the final buzzer rang, Levrets had “the shortest postgame conversation I have had with a team ever,” and, in order to keep the Stanford game from affecting the team moving forward, immediately shifted focus to the next game, a visit from California on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s over. It’s done. We are through with this game,” he said. “While Stanford is the elite of the elite, everybody in this league is good. If you don’t move on to the next thing, you’re going to not be in a good spot.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.