Alanna Smith’s career day meant so much for far more than just basketball.
Sure, Stanford celebrated the Australian dynamo’s brilliance on the court Sunday in an 85-64 victory by the sixth-ranked Cardinal against Washington State that helped Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer reach her 900th win in 33 seasons at the school, yet the Cardinal also cheered and supported survivors of human trafficking after Smith organized an awareness day on the issue.
Smith scored a career-high 34 points in Stanford’s 20th straight home victory and the school’s first Human Trafficking Awareness Game. She shot 13 for 17 with four 3-pointers and also had 15 rebounds — one off her career best — in her third 30-point performance of the season.
“I didn’t plan to have it on this day just, I was just hoping to do it at some point in this season,” she said of the awareness game. “But to have a big crowd and to win a huge game and to play well, it means a lot. I’m not just about basketball and that’s our whole team, too. Our whole team is really caring and we love to give back, and as athletes that’s something I think is really important to do. I’m really happy this day kind of came together.”
Stanford (16-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is off to the program’s best start since beginning 22-1 in 2013-14.
Photo: Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire Via Getty Images
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VanDerveer’s milestone, Maples Pavilion also celebrated survivors of human trafficking thanks to Smith’s leadership in planning
“That’s kind of Alanna as a quintessential Stanford student,” VanDerveer said. “She’s not just about basketball, she’s not just about academics, she’s into her studies and I think it’s a great statement that she cares about more than just dribbling and shooting. And all of our team does. I think the Stanford athletes as a whole are very caring and passionate people. I know Alanna liked to be able to bring human trafficking to this kind of platform to be able to say, ‘Hey, it’s not OK and we’ve got to do something about it.’”
VanDerveer became the fifth Division I men’s or women’s coach to reach 900 victories at one school, joining late Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse men’s coach Jim Boeheim.
“I never thought about it. It’s a little mind-boggling just to think how quickly it’s gone,” VanDerveer said. “I just want to enjoy the day today, with our team with Alanna having a great performance.”
Kiana Williams added 19 points and DiJonai Carrington 11 for the Cardinal, who shot 76.9 percent in the third quarter (10 for 13).
Cherilyn Molina had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Washington State.
Cougars forward Borislava Hristova added 11 points and seven rebounds. She missed a double-double for the first time in 18 games this season. Her streak of 17 straight had matched the sixth-longest such streak in school history.
Washington State (7-11, 2-5) lost for the fifth time in six games after a 77-63 defeat at California on Friday night in which the team fought back before giving up an 18-2 run.
It won’t get easier for the Cougars: They host No. 5 Oregon in their next game Friday back in Pullman. The Cougars play three straight against top-10 teams.
Washington State took a quick lead by scoring the game’s first basket before Stanford went on a 19-3 run — including 14-0 during one stretch in which the Cardinal forced three turnovers and held the Cougars without scoring for more than four minutes.
Stanford improved to 64-0 all-time against Washington State and 32-0 in the series at home, with 20 of the last 21 wins by double digits.
Janie McCauley is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Stanford-s-Tara-VanDerveer-earns-900th-win-13548477.php.