TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Stanford had proved more than resilient during its extended five-week road trip.
Francesca Belibi scored a career-high 23 points and added a season-high 12 rebounds and Kiana Williams had 16 points to lead No. 1 Stanford to a 68-60 Pac-12 victory over stubborn Arizona State on Sunday.
The Cardinal (9-0, 6-0) has not played a home game since its season opener Nov. 25, playing — and winning — two games apiece in Las Vegas, Berkeley, Calif., Los Angeles and Arizona.
“This is our life right now, and we are trying to make the absolute best of it,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, whose team was heading to California on Sunday night.
“This is the hardest time in our lives for all of us. We’re so fortunate. We have our health. Have a job. I’m not going to act like things are so tough," VanDerveer said. "Really proud of our team, how mature they’ve been and how focused they have been. This is what it is right now. If you want to play, you have to do it.”
Haley Jones, who was averaging a double-double, had eight points and seven rebounds and Lexie Hull had seven points for the Cardinal, which did no play its “A” game but played well enough."
Jaddan Simmons had 16 points and Taya Hanson had 15 for the Sun Devils (7-3, 3-3), who missed their first 10 field goal attempts and trailed 19-2 before recovering to make it a game.
Arizona State got within four points midway through the third quarter, and Iris Mbulito made a layup to cap a 6-0 run to get the Sun Devils within 64-58 with 1:06 remaining. Stanford made three free throws in the final nine seconds.
“We weren’t ourselves (early),” Hanson said. “If we would have started strong today, we could have taken that ‘dub.’ It was cool to see what we are capable of.”
Stanford, which has held all nine opponents to fewer than 60 points. had not won by fewer than 12 points this season
“We know we are going to get everyone’s ‘A’ game, and we did,” VanDerveer said. “This is what we expect. It is not going to be an easy road.”
Hanson scored seven points in the third quarter when the Sun Devils got within four at 42-38, but the Cardinal extended its lead to 16 when Belibi scored the first basket of the fourth quarter.
Iris Mbulito made a layup to cap a 6-0 run to get the Sun Devils within 64-58 with 1:06 remaining before Stanford made four free throws in the final 19 seconds.
“Fran put the team on her back,” VanDerveer said. “We had to grind it out and that’s what we did. We have to take a look in the mirror and play better.”
Stanford shot 49.2 percent from the field and had a 41-30 rebounding advantage. Arizona State shot 33.3 percent.
Stanford: After beating No. 6 Arizona by 27 points on Friday, Stanford could use its sweep to edge closer to a unanimous No. 1 ranking.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ only losses are to then-No. 9 UCLA, No. 6 Arizona and No. 1 Stanford. ASU’s victory over California on Friday was delayed 3 1/2 hours to adhere to Covid protocols, but no issues arose Sunday.
BACK ON TRACK
Stanford point Kiana Williams scored 11 of her 16 points in the second half, and she had eight of 10 points in a stretch of the late third and early fourth quarters when the Cardinal extended its lead from four to 16 points.
“She’s not a stat-stuffer at all,” VanDerveer said. “When she is needed, she steps up. She has control of the floor. I want the ball in her hands. I want her running things. She is an incredibly intelligent player and an absolute winner.”
Williams had no turnovers in 40 minutes.
Stanford will conclude what was supposed to be its most treacherous stretch of the season against No. 8 Oregon on Friday at a site to be determined. The Cardinal beat then-No. 10 UCLA 61-49 on Dec. 21 and stopped No. 6 Arizona 81-54 on Friday.
ASU will visit improving Washington State on Friday, which is 6-1, 4-1 in the Pac-12. The Cougars won four league games last season.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.