Stanford can learn from loss to No. 1 South Carolina, needs bench to strengthen in Hawaii

Stanford can learn from loss to No. 1 South Carolina, needs bench to strengthen in Hawaii
Stanford can learn from loss to No. 1 South Carolina, needs bench to strengthen in Hawaii

Stanford’s strength this season had been its bench. Facing the best team in the country, it was barely visible. The nation’s No. 2 team reserves added just nine points in Sunday’s loss to No. 1 South Carolina, a 76-71 overtime loss riddled with late-game errors , fouls and offensive problems.

“Our turnovers really, really hurt us and that’s something we need to do better,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “It’s the combination of turnovers, not getting the ball inbounds, taking a time out, not boxing, fouls, it all adds up.”

Sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen, who on Sunday listed the nation’s second most effective shooter, called a timeout the Cardinal didn’t have following a rebound from a Gamecocks missed free throw that earned him a technical foul. This error was cited as what cost Stanford the game, but long before this misjudgment, the team’s offense had stalled and allowed South Carolina to get back into the game.

The unusually quiet scoring outing was partly down to a 5-for-19 shooting effort from Haley Jones. Aside from Cameron Brink’s 25 points and a prolific welcome on the national stage for freshman point guard Talana Lepolo, Stanford’s shooters weren’t ready yet.

“I think Haley is more capable, could help us more, she struggled a bit on the pitch. But we need her to help us manage our offense,” VanDerveer said.

In the fourth quarter and overtime combined, the Cardinal shot just 4-19 from the field, scoring just 17 points as South Carolina rallied. Their first points in the fourth quarter came with four minutes left, on a free throw from Brink.

Stanford averaged 44 bench points per game in its first five. He was going to be inferior against South Carolina, opting for a tighter rotation and starters playing more minutes against key Gamecocks players, but for the reserves to have just nine points from South Carolina’s 34 – who relied heavily on their own bench in the second quarter as Aliyah Boston was at fault – was a disappointment.

“It was very disappointing to get the lead we had and not finish the job,” VanDerveer said.

One of the biggest headaches for Stanford this season is putting together the pieces of what has been a deep team. In the first five contests, albeit against lesser opponents, VanDerveer had used at least 14 of his players. Freshman Lauren Betts didn’t see more than 14 minutes and dazzled in that time, while third-string playmaker Jzaniya Harriel gained minutes down the stretch.

Against South Carolina, even with Brink at fault, the only bench points were Betts’ four and Ashten Prechtel’s five in 36 minutes, including 32 to Prechtel. Prechtel was the only double-digit reserve in minutes among the 52 played by the bench. Fran Belibi was the only other non-runner to attempt a shot.

It’s the start of the season, with only six games played, and when the Cardinal returns from his Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii, he’ll add three more. South Carolina was probably their toughest test of the season until they potentially face them again in the playoffs, and few teams are getting an early lesson in who they are so early in the year. .

Most of the games Stanford plays the rest of the way won’t look like Sunday’s setback either. Especially in their upcoming three-game, three-day weekend in Hawaii, the bench will be tested. Until Pac-12 plays, the toughest potential challenges on the Cardinal’s schedule are newcomer Gonzaga, Tennessee and Creighton who are quickly faltering.

That’s plenty of time to confirm just how involved the bench will be in the games that matter. That could mean more time for Betts, who has been exceptionally efficient, or finding out if the Cardinal can count on Brooke Demetre and Elena Bosgana to increase the score in the middle of the two quarters.

Stanford had some positives to take from their first loss of the season. Lepolo’s performance likely locked her in as a long-term starting guard, and Precthel’s defensive effort from the bench against Boston was admirable, contributing five blocks and seven rebounds.

The Cardinal has a plan of what needs to improve. Less neglect, spreading the score on the bench and showing that they can close games. To do that, they’ll have to rely on more than Jones and Brink to lead the offense. At least hypothetically, they have the parts to do so.

As Jones said of what happened on Sunday, “I think there was a lot of stuff that we left there on the pitch that we would like to have back.”

Marisa Ingemi is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail : [email protected]

. stanford can learn defeat face carolina south need dun bench for strengthen hawaii

. Stanford learn loss South Carolina bench strengthen Hawaii

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