STANFORD — A quick start helped Stanford run away from Utah.
The No. 8 Cardinal scored 18 consecutive points in the first quarter on the way to an 87-51 victory over Utah on Sunday.
Five different players scored as the Cardinal (22-4, 12-2) transformed a 9-7 lead into a 27-7 margin in a span of less than 5 minutes to stay in a tie for first place in the conference standings.
“We got off to a great start,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “A great team win us.”
Not so much for the Utes (15-10, 4-10).
“We were kind of zombies,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. “They kind of punched us in the mouth in that first quarter. I wish i know why we didn’t swing back.”
Alanna Smith led Stanford with 16 points, Karlie Samuelson and Brittany McPhee each had 13 and Briana Roberson scored 10. The Cardinal grabbed 20 offensive rebounds to score 29 second-chance points.
The game was decided early. Utah shot 0-for-8 and turned the ball over 5 times in a stretch of 11 scoreless possessions in the first quarter.
The Utes ended the drought when Tilar Clark made a free throw with 2:02 left in the first quarter but they went 13 more than minutes without a field goal deep into the second quarter, missing 16 straight shots.
Utah was coming off a road win at Cal, but couldn’t deliver another strong effort.
“We looked completely different than we looked on Friday and at this point in the season I couldn’t tell you why,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Paige Crozon scored 13 points to lead the Utes, who had more turnovers (22) than field goals (20).
Utah still cannot compete with Stanford, winless in 22 games in the all-time series. The Utes are 0-10 vs. the Cardinal since joining the Pac-12 and 0-9 at Maples Pavilion.
Stanford did what good teams are supposed to do against overmatched opponents, taking immediate charge against the Utes and never letting them back in the game. The Cardinal led 31-8 at the end of the first quarter and 43-20 at halftime.
Stanford was the last team to beat No. 1 Connecticut (24-0), which goes for its 100th consecutive victory Monday night against No. 6 South Carolina (21-2). The Cardinal beat the Huskies 88-86 in overtime on Nov. 17, 2014 at Stanford, snapping Conn’s 47-game win streak.
Asked about the Huskies closing in on 100 straight wins, VanDerveer said, “I think everyone wishes it was them. They have great players and, obviously, a system that really works.”
Stanford, which finished the week with wins over Colorado and Utah after losing at home to UCLA on Monday, could dip a spot or two in next week’s AP Top-25.
McCALL’S TOUGH WEEK
Senior Erica McCall, Stanford’s leading scorer on the season, shot 3-for-13 against the Utes to go 11-for-40 in three games this week. “Maybe she’s just trying to hard,” VanDerveer suggested. “But for our team, it’s good to win when she does struggle offensively.”
Utah returns home to face Oregon on Friday.
Stanford faces rival Cal twice this week, beginning Thursday at Berkeley.