Jayne Appel, the reigning Pac-10 player of the year and Coaches’ All-America selection, got off to a fast start for the Cardinal, scoring 10 of the team’s first 14 points. Appel finished with 26 points. Stanford actually led 14-13 at one time, but Connecticut, led by Renee Mongotmery’s 7 points, went on a tear, going up by 23, 41-18. Throughout the game, Montgomery repeatedly drove to the hoop to score in ways that left Stanford defenders unable to stop her. “Renee Montgomery was the difference maker,” said Cardinal coach, Tara VanDerveer, after the game. After Connecticut went up by nearly twenty, Stanford proved unable to shrink the lead by any substantial amount and keep it close.
Despite the loss, the Stanford athletic program is still on pace to win the Sears Director’s Cup for the fifteenth straight year. The cup is decided based on the final rankings of each university’s teams and there is not any significant advantage in winning the championship as opposed to finishing in 2nd place. That said, Stanford is well positioned to continue to preserve its reputation as the nation’s most prestigious overall athletic program. Along with the women’s basketball team, the men’s swimming team also finished in 3rd place, men’s volleyball is currently 5th, women’s water polo is currently ranked 1st,and the men’s and women’s tennis teams are currently 8th and 10th respectively.
There are many reasons to be hopeful for next year. The basketball team will lose only two players and one starter to graduation, leaving a core of players ready to make another deep run in next year’s tournament.