No. 15 Stanford women overcome cold shooting, beat Utah
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Amber Orrange is looking for her shot at every opportunity and making each one count.
Orrange had 17 points and seven rebounds, leading No. 15 Stanford past injury-plagued Utah 55-44 on Monday night to sweep the opening two games of conference play.
Orrange, the Cardinal's senior point guard, has gone 16 for 33 in the past two games for 43 points, after shooting 14 for 43 over her previous five.
''I'm just looking to shoot more. I don't think I've ever shot this many times in a game before,'' she said of Monday's 6-for-17 outing, a season-high attempts. ''Now, even if I'm missing or I don't make the right play, if I get another good look I'm still going to shoot it.''
The Cardinal are counting on that kind of leadership as they seek another special postseason run come March.
Lili Thompson scored 14 points and freshman Kaylee Johnson added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Cardinal (10-4, 2-0 Pac-12), who are chasing their 15th consecutive conference regular-season title under 29th-year Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer.
Karlie Samuelson scored four straight points midway through the second half as Stanford, which led 20-14 at halftime, built its lead to 34-23.
Thompson went down hard under the basket with 5:40 remaining and left the game after being whistled for an offensive foul. She appeared to hit her head on the court and didn't return.
Taryn Wicijowski scored 12 points of her 14 points in the second half to go with nine rebounds for the scrappy Utes, who managed only six field goals in the opening 20 minutes but hung tough. Utah was swept on its Bay Area trip to open conference play, losing at California on Saturday.
''She's a sixth-year hockey player,'' VanDerveer said of Wicijowski. ''Taryn is a terrific player. I thought we did a good job doubling her. If we didn't, she scored. Their field-goal percentage, ours wasn't great, they weren't making their perimeter shots.''
Stanford improved to 7-1 at home with its fourth straight victory since losses at Chattanooga and No. 11 Tennessee last month.
The Cardinal are 18-0 all-time against Utah dating to their first meeting on Jan. 13, 1986. This marked the sixth meeting as conference opponents, and Stanford won the previous five by an average of 21.4 points.
Both teams had forgettable, cold-shooting first halves.
The teams combined to shoot 14 for 59 in an ugly first half that featured five turnovers on each side. Overall for the game, Stanford shot 36 percent to Utah's 28.
''I'm happy with our effort. This young team, decimated by injuries, has hung in and competed,'' Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. ''We have to figure out how to turn competitive into wins. ...Tempo is important for us, especially here. They have spurtability.''
VanDerveer, 61, broke a bone in her left arm near the wrist after falling taking a charge against 6-foot-5 Tess Picknell during practice Dec. 31.
VanDerveer said the arm is swollen and still black and blue. She will wear a brace for 4 to 6 weeks at all times except when in the shower, with hopes of quick healing. She has another one to use for exercise.
''I'm being really disciplined about it. I don't want a cast. I want it to heal as fast as it can because it interferes with what I like to do,'' she said. ''Tess apologized. I did it, I purposely took a charge. It was stupid.''
Utah: Utah went 4 for 21 from 3-point range. ... The Utes dropped to 0-6 away from home and 0-4 in true road games ... Utah missed 13 of its final 15 shots to end the first half and Wicijowski was 1 of 6. She led the team in scoring for the fourth time in five games. No other Utah player reached double digits.
Stanford: Stanford held a 43-33 rebounding advantage. ... The Cardinal, out of the top 10 rankings for the first time since 2008-09, are 52-2 in the month of January over the past six-plus seasons and 115-3 at home in Maples Pavilion since 2007-08.
Utah: Hosts UCLA on Friday.
Stanford: Friday at Washington.