SALT LAKE CITY (AP)If you play for Stanford, you get out and run or you sit down.
”We have a lot of good people who want to play. We’re going to run and if you don’t want to go all out, you can rest on the bench,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.
The Cardinal ignored the altitude and ran right past Utah Friday night.
Lexie Hull scored 24 and Kiana Williams added 19 to lift No. 8 Stanford to a 97-64 win over the Utes.
”We played with a lot of energy and pace. Lexie and Kiana led the way with their scoring but we had a lot of help from other players and we’ll need that going forward,” VanDerveer said.
Fighting to keep pace with UCLA and Oregon – who played later on Friday – at the top of the Pac-12 standings, the Cardinal (22-3, 11-2 Pac-12) ran off quick outlets on rebounds and 12 takeaways into a 25-2 advantage on fast break points.
”Our offensive strategy is built on playing with tempo. When you get out in transition, you don’t need to run too many offensive sets. You just get layups and open 3s,” Williams said.
Stanford scored the most points in a conference game since 2011 and tied their season high that came in a 97-71 win over San Francisco in November.
Ashten Prechtel scored 16 points on a variety of post moves as the Cardinal outscored Utah in the paint, 40-16.
Kemery Martin matched her career high with 15 points, Lola Pendande had 12, and Daneesha Provo tallied 11 for the Utes (12-12, 5-8 Pac-12).
”Stanford played exceptionally well tonight. It is hard to get anything going on our end when they shoot the ball like they did tonight,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said.
The Cardinal used a late second-quarter burst to set their season-best for points in a quarter (32) and match their high watermark for a half at 55. In the final six minutes of the half, Stanford scored an astounding 28 points, including Prechtel’s 3-pointer and Williams’ steal and layup all within five seconds of the horn.
During the stretch, the Cardinal extended a six-point lead to a 55-33 halftime advantage on the strength of five layups and six 3-pointers. At one point, more than a couple of the Utes out their hands in the air and shook their heads as yet another ball went through the net.
”We were sprinting our lanes and running the floor. Increasing the pace really helped us to win tonight,” Hull said.
The Cardinal have won six of seven and claimed this one with 15-for-30 accuracy from beyond the arc and 54% shooting overall.
With four 3s, Williams passed Nicole Powell for eighth place on the school’s 3-pointer list.
Stanford is 25-1 against Utah, with the lone loss coming last year in Salt Lake City.
”We remembered that and we talked about how we owed them. We didn’t like how that felt last year and we weren’t going to let it happen again,” Hull said.
Forward Maya Dodson saw her first action of the season after missing the Cardinal’s first 24 games with an injury she suffered last year. Dodson scored seven points, making all three of her field goal attempts.
”We have really missed her and we’re excited to have her back. She played well and we’ll need her as we approach the postseason,” VanDerveer said.
Stanford: The Cardinal’s motion sets produced open shots and their deadly 3-point accuracy and opportunistic early offense combined to keep the Utes on their heels. On defense, Stanford had 12 steals and 11 blocks.
Utah: Against top competition, the Utes often stay close but then fall prey to overwhelming runs. The second quarter was disastrous, especially the half-closing 10-0 run. After two wins last weekend on the road and beginning a four-game homestand, Utah was hoping to create some upset magic but still lacks the consistency to beat great teams.
Stanford: visits Colorado on Sunday.
Utah: hosts California on Sunday.