STANFORD, Calif. (AP)Kiki Iriafen scored 16 points to lead No. 2 Stanford to an 86-48 win over San Diego State on Monday night in the season opener.
Iriafen was one of four players who had double-digit points for the reigning Pac-12 champion Cardinal, including Elena Bosgana (15 points), Cameron Brink (13) and Indya Nivar (13). Iriafen and Bosgana both recorded career highs in points.
”I’m really excited about our super sophomores,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, referring to Iriafen and Bosgana. ”They were reserves a lot last year, and now they’re saying, `It’s my turn.’ . We have a pretty deep team. A lot of different people can contribute.”
Iriafen and Bosgana both attributed their career nights to the leadership of Stanford’s upperclassmen.
”Last year, we had great players next to us,” Bosgana said. ”Learning from that, and learning from watching, has really helped me build my confidence.”
”We’re more comfortable with playing college basketball, what our coaches want from us,” Iriafen said. ”The upperclassmen, they’re always motivating me, telling me that I can do anything on the court, so that motivation from my seniors and my juniors is really helpful.”
Brink kicked off the scoring with a 3-pointer, sparking a 10-0 game-opening run for the Cardinal on their way to a 25-4 lead after the first quarter. Stanford shot 51.6% (32 of 62) on the evening, including 36.7% (11 of 30) from deep. AP preseason All-American Haley Jones was held to just six points, but she led the team with a plus-32 in her 23 minutes on the court.
”She had some good looks, and the ball didn’t go down for her, but her free throws were really good,” VanDerveer said. ”This is a really new position for her, playing the point, but I think she’s really working hard and doing really well.”
Alex Crain and Meghan Fiso each had nine points for the Aztecs, who were held to 31.6% shooting (18 of 57) by the Cardinal defense. Stanford has now held 64 of its last 70 opponents to 41.8% shooting or worse.
San Diego State: The Aztecs’ season opener vs. the Cardinal was a tough test for a team that hasn’t faced a top-two opponent since 2014, when they played at then-No. 2 South Carolina.
Stanford: The Cardinal lost a quartet of key players in Lacie Hull, Lexie Hull, Alyssa Jerome and Anna Wilson after last season, but their five newcomers are already making an impact on the court. Nivar (13 points, 5 rebounds) and Talana Lepolo (11 assists) particularly impressed in their college debuts.
Bosgana made a buzzer-beating 3 to close out the second quarter, securing a 42-16 Stanford lead through the first half. She shot 3 of 7 from deep on Monday after failing to make a 3 in 10 attempts last season.
SENDING `LOVE AND SUPPORT’ TO BG
Maples Pavilion held a moment of silence before the game for WNBA star Brittney Griner, whose nine-year prison sentence for drug possession was recently upheld by a Russian court. VanDerveer said the Cardinal have ordered patches in support of Griner, which the team will wear on their uniforms this season.
”It’s really sad what’s happening,” VanDerveer said. ”I just wanted to remind everyone that we’re thinking of her, and that we love her, and that it’s a horrible situation.”
San Diego State: The Aztecs return to Viejas Arena for a five-game homestand, beginning with the first game of the Aztec Classic against San Diego Christian (2-1) on Wednesday.
Stanford: The Cardinal will play one more game at Maples Pavilion before heading on a two-game road trip, hosting California State University Northridge (0-1) on Wednesday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll