Stanford’s scouting report on Erika Bean was simple: Leave her open and focus on the more prolific scorers on the Utah women’s basketball team.
On Sunday afternoon, Bean made the Cardinal pay.
Bean scored a game-high 23 points and made a career-high five 3-pointers, leading the No. 21 Utes (18-1, 7-1 Pac-12) to a 75-68 upset win over the No. 6 Cardinal (17-2, 7-1). Utah snapped the Cardinal’s 11-game winning streak and extended its own to six games. It was the first time the Utes beat Stanford in school history.
Bean isn’t generally known as a 3-point shooter. In her previous seven Pac-12 games, she shot only 1 of 10 from that distance, and 23.5 percent for the entire season.
But on Sunday, the Utes knew she was going to get her opportunities, particularly because Stanford zoned Megan Huff in the post and forced kick-outs to the perimeter. Bean made the go-ahead triple that gave Utah a lead it didn’t relinquish.
“When the ball touched my hands, I was just really confident and let it fly,” said Bean, who finished the game 9 of 17 and added six rebounds and three assists.
Huff said the team worked on patiently kicking the ball out to teammates, whether those passes came from the post or on drives to the rim. Many of Utah’s outside shots were open as a result, and the Utes converted 11 of 24 from the 3-point line.
“We made shots,” Utes coach Lynne Roberts said. “That’s what I’ve been saying. If you’re gonna pack it in and take [Huff’s] and [Dre-Una Edwards’] and our low-post game away, then we’ve gotta make shots. We’ve been proving that we can do that.”
The gravity of the challenge going into Sunday was palpable. Utah’s game against the Cardinal was the first of three consecutive against teams in the top 10 in the country. If the Utes wanted to prove what they were made of — really prove it — beating Stanford certainly helps.
Utah trailed by seven midway through the third quarter, but tied the game with a 9-2 run. Stanford missed its last seven shots of the frame, which allowed the Utes to take a 58-50 lead on Bean’s 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter.
The Cardinal pushed back, tying the game at 68 with 2:04 remaining. But Bean’s triple, which came off a pass from Dru Gylten, gave Utah a 71-68 lead and ignited a 7-0 run to seal the victory.
Huff scored 17 points and brought down 13 rebounds despite shooting just 5 of 15 from the field. She drew a key charge on Stanford’s best player, Alanna Smith, fouling her out late in the fourth quarter. Utah’s defense held Smith to 6-of-17 shooting.
Kiana Moore contributed 13 points and three assists for Utah, which will play No. 5 Oregon on the road on Friday.
Bean wasn’t sure if 23 points marked a career high for her. In fact, it was her first 20-point game of her career. It’s the most points she has scored all season after scoring dropping 11 against Colorado. Perhaps after Sunday’s breakout performance, teams will begin scouting her a bit differently.
“We gambled and she made us pay,” Cardinal head coach Tara Vanderveer said of Bean.