John P. Lozano/Stanford Athletics
Women's Basketball

They Can Play

Box Score Opens in a new window Postgame Press Conference Opens in a new window Photo Gallery Opens in a new window

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) – Tara VanDerveer had no problem sending her freshmen into competition early and often. They proved they were ready.
Freshman Francesca Belibi had 12 points and 15 rebounds in helping No. 3 Stanford win its 21st consecutive home opener, a 92-27 rout of Eastern Washington in the first game of the season for both teams.
"A double-double in her first game, I guess we'll get that every game," VanDerveer joked.
Belibi, who first began playing basketball as a freshman in high school, has come a long way in a short time.
"Sometimes I'll be on the sideline and think 'Wow, Tara is my coach,' " Belibi said. "It's been amazing that even in a couple of months I've grown so much as a player. That's the coaches emphasizing what I need to do."
Freshman Hannah Jump hit four consecutive 3-pointers and scored 12 points for the Cardinal, who improved to 34-12 in season openers. Freshman Ashten Prechtel scored 15 points, Kiana Williams added 11 points and Lexie Hull had 10.
"I think we showed our depth," VanDerveer said. "Youth was ready to go, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Kennedy Dickie scored seven points to lead the Eagles, who have never beaten a ranked opponent.
"I think Stanford is unbelievable," Eastern Washington coach Wendy Schuller said. "I watched them play USA and knew we were hitting a buzz saw. We have to grow a lot from this. Offensively we were frustrated but Stanford made us shoot before we were comfortable."
Eastern Washington scored 10 points in the first quarter and was then held to 11 points over the next 28 minutes. Tatiana Reese, who scored five points, hit a 3-pointer with under three minutes to play end the drought.
Stanford limited the Eagles to just over 14% shooting, the lowest opponent's shooting percentage since at least the 1999-2000 season.
Stanford was 13 of 28 from 3-point range, led by Jump. Prechtel and Williams each hit 3 of 4. The Cardinal also recorded its third largest margin of victory and allowed its fifth fewest points.
The Cardinal never trailed and began pulling away early in the second quarter, using a 13-0 run sparked by Prechtel's driving layup.
"We played inspired basketball," VanDerveer said. "The freshmen joined right in."
The Eagles were 2 of 21 from the field in the second quarter, while Stanford was 9 of 17.
Jump hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to give Stanford a 38-15 lead heading into halftime.
Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer used her bench liberally throughout and it didn't seem to matter who played. Francesca Belibi, who dunked in a high school game last season, had a double-double midway through the third quarter. The team is loaded and VanDerveer only needs to find the right combination and develop the rotation. "This game we looked at a lot of different combinations," said VanDerveer.
Francesca Belibi had the opportunity to speak with former Stanford great Chiney Ogwumike during Team USA's stay in the area. "We talked about playing the post," Belibi said. "I'm not the most physical player. She told me to take my time and use my speed to my advantage."
Eastern Washington coach Wendy Sculler does not shy away from playing powerhouse programs. She's scheduled Oregon and Oregon State in the past and the Eagles also play at Utah. "We always play a difficult nonconference schedule," she said. "But Stanford ... that's a team that can win a national championship. They showed a lot."