STANFORD, Calif.— The reigning national champions looked the part at Maples Pavilion on Friday as the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal overpowered No. 16 Montana State 78-37 in the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
Hannah Jump led the Cardinal with 15 points and Lexie Hull had 13.
Photos: No. 16 Montana State falls to No. 1 Stanford
Stanford's size and length gave the Bobcats fits the entire game. Taylor Janssen finished as Montana State's leading scorer with 12 points, while Darian White followed with six.
MSU, which was appearing in the tournament for the third time in school history, finished the first quarter with zero points and started the game 0-for-21 from the field.
Janssen scored MSU's first bucket about one minute into the second quarter.
“It was, honestly, really relieving because we were like, we finally got on the board,” Janssen said of watching her shot go in. “That's the hump we needed to get over. And once we got those points, I think we felt a little more comfortable and weren't as scared, I guess you could say. Once we got over that hump we could relax a little bit more and feel more confident that our next shot was going in.”
But things didn't get much better for the Cats from there. Just minutes later, Stanford's Francesca Belibi blocked an MSU shot on the perimeter and threw down a fast-break one-handed dunk on the other end to give the Cardinal even more momentum. Belibi finished with 12 points.
“No, that was a first. I remember it happened and I just turned to Ashley, and I was like, well, I don't really know where to go from here,” Janssen said. “Let's get ourselves back on offense and try and bounce back off of that. That was interesting. That was the first time that's ever happened or that I've ever been in a game where someone dunked. It was really cool.”
The Bobcats made their first 3-pointer with about four minutes left in third quarter, another ice-breaker from Janssen, on the way to finishing 4-for-24 from beyond the arc.
Montana State finishes its season with 22-13 record. Stanford improves to 29-3 and advances to the second round, where it will face No. 8 Kansas.
"Yeah, we hugged our seniors, and we still have a lot of youth that's going to be a year older next year. We told them, circle some things, get together five, ten minutes as a group, what are the things we're going to take away from this game that we want to sharpen up," said head coach Tricia Binford. "And we sure saw some moments of really, really turning the corner on the offensive end. But obviously on the defensive end I thought we did some things really well early on. We forced some mistakes. We disrupted some actions. And we just have to build off those moments. And yeah, we definitely did get better today."