Stanford women steamroll UC Davis in NCAA opener

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STANFORD — Alanna Smith scored the first nine Stanford points of the third quarter on the way to 21, and her second-seeded Cardinal came out shooting from the get-go to beat No. 15 seed and Northern California neighbor UC Davis 79-54 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kiana Williams added 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting with three 3-pointers and dished out five assists while Smith went 9 of 14 from the floor with three 3s. Stanford (29-4) shot 49.2 percent against the overmatched Aggies (25-7), who were riding a 16-game winning streak into the program’s second NCAA berth.

Stanford advances to play again on its home court of Maples Pavilion on Monday against seventh-seeded BYU (26-6), a 73-64 winner in Saturday’s first game against No. 10 seed Auburn.

Smith joined Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne as the only players the past 20 years with 1,600 points, 200 blocked shots and 150 made 3-pointers.

Both coaches would have preferred to be in different brackets rather than facing off in the Chicago Regional opener, given their close relationship and mutual respect for one another.

Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer invited Jennifer Gross to campus several times, most recently last May, to teach the Cardinal the Princeton offense. Gross considers VanDerveer a mentor and beautiful example for all of women’s basketball.

Davis senior and 2014 Santa Rosa High grad Morgan Bertsch, who at 23.5 points per game was the only Aggies player averaging double figures, scored 25 points but shot 8 for 25.

The Aggies were outplayed from the opening tip and shot 29.1 percent. Both teams knew this matchup would be much different than when they opened their respective seasons on Stanford’s home floor four-plus months ago. The Cardinal won that one 71-43.

UC Davis got this far by rallying from a 17-point deficit to beat Hawaii for the Big West tournament crown. The Aggies reached the Elite Eight of the Women’s NIT last season and were determined to build on that momentum.

Stanford made 5 of its first 7 shots and jumped to a 13-0 lead as UC Davis missed its initial eight from the floor.

The Aggies shot 2 for 15, including 1 of 9 on 3s, in the first quarter to fall behind 26-9.

Cheering section

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, incognito sporting a red Stanford hoodie, was in the stands a couple of rows behind the team’s bench rooting for little sister Anna, a reserve guard for the Cardinal. He stood to cheer when she scored a late basket.

The game drew an announced crowd of 3,456.

Twin factor

Twins Karley and Kourtney Eaton play for Davis.

For Stanford, it’s freshmen Lacie and Lexie Hull.

The Hulls scored nine points total — six by starter Lacie — to four total by the Eatons, who combined to shoot 1 of 9.

Big picture

UC Davis: Gross is 0-8 vs. Stanford in eight seasons coaching the Aggies, and the program hasn’t beaten the Cardinal since a 61-54 victory on Feb. 7, 1978. ... UC Davis hadn’t lost since a 65-60 defeat at Hawaii on Jan. 12. ... In 2011, the Aggies were a 16 seed and lost 86-59 in the first round at Stanford in then-Davis coach Sandy Simpson’s final game before he retired. ... Against Stanford in the November season opener, the Aggies shot just 14 for 62 — 22.6 percent — and 8 of 31 from 3-point range while being outrebounded 50-25.

Stanford: Stanford won its 13th straight in the series with UC Davis. ... The Cardinal held a 42-32 rebounding advantage and limited the Aggies to six assists.

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