LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV coach Lindy La Rocque was once a player and assistant coach for some of the most dominating Stanford teams ever, serving crushing defeats to mid-major opponents.
Saturday it was the first-year coach’s Lady Rebels who got to feel what it was like to be on the receiving end.
Haley Jones had a career high 25 points, plus seven rebounds and seven assists to help No. 2 Stanford rout UNLV 101-54 .
After opening with a 108-40 victory over Cal Poly, the Cardinal have outscored its first two opponents by a combined 115 points.
The game was a reunion for Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and La Rocque, who played in four Final Fours with the Cardinal from 2009-12 and was an assistant at her alma mater until taking over at UNLV.
“I hope this was a good game for them to learn and get better, it certainly was a good game for us,” said VanDerveer, who improved to 51-5 against her former assistants and 49-9 against her former players. “I thought we took care of the ball, I thought we rebounded better. If there was something that we really needed to focus on it was we foul too much. Lindy’s team is aggressive, we weren’t moving our feet the way we needed to.”
VanDerveer inched closer to history, as the 67-year-old Hall of Fame coach has 1,096 career wins and is three victories shy of passing Pat Summitt (1,098) as the winningest coach in women’s college basketball history.
Francesca Belibi added 15 points and seven rebounds, and Lexie Hull chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds for Stanford, which shot 57.3% (43 of 75) from the field.
Nia Johnson led UNLV (1-2) with 14 points. Bailey Thomas had 10.
One game after the Lady Rebels tied a school record with 12 3-pointers in La Rocque’s first career win, they struggled mightily from everywhere on the court. UNLV wilted under an aggressive Stanford defense and shot a paltry 26.9% (14 of 52) from the floor and was 6-for-18 (33.3%) from beyond the arc.
“I think we could have put forward a better effort,” La Rocque said. “I definitely know their whole playbook like the back of my hand, and unfortunately because I have some of the same sets, they know our whole playbook, too. I expected that. Preparation is one of Tara’s biggest keys. I think it took our players a little off guard, but that’s part of the game. I knew everything they were doing, but vice versa.”
Stanford was forced to scramble this past week due to Santa Clara County’s ban on sporting events and practices for three weeks. In addition to adding the Lady Rebels to its schedule, the Cardinal will “host” Washington and Washington State at the Thomas and Mack on the campus of UNLV on Sunday and Tuesday.
VanDerveer said because her players are finished with finals and they’d likely be in a hotel when traveling regardless, it was an easy transition to shift their home base to Las Vegas for several days.
”(UNLV) has been exceptional in letting us practice and playing games here and everything,” she said. “Our team has handled it really well. Thank goodness we could play Lindy’s team. We’re trying to get better and just thankful for the opportunity to play.”
Stanford: With No. 1 South Carolina suffering its first loss of the season, a 54-46 setback to No. 8 North Carolina State on Thursday, the Cardinal has a clear path to top spot in next week’s poll barring an upset to Washington on Sunday.
UNLV: The Lady Rebels continued to struggle to defend from the perimeter. They came into the game after allowing their first two opponents to hit 38.5% (15 of 39) from 3-point range. Stanford shot 8 of 24 (33.3%) from beyond the arc.
SHE SAID IT
“We’re playing it by ear. We’re waiting to see what we’re allowed to do. We’re gonna do whatever our university and community health officials say and we’re just enjoying one day at a time. If we can come back and play UC Davis (on Dec. 11) and Cal (on Dec. 13) we’re going to do that. If not we’ll just stay here and hope the teams will come play us,” VanDerveer said about her team’s plans.
Stanford: vs. Washington in Las Vegas on Sunday.
UNLV: Hosts Wyoming on Dec. 12.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/Womenscollegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25