STANFORD, Calif. — Taylor Janssen scored Montana State’s first points early in the second quarter of Friday’s NCAA tournament women’s basketball game. The 6-foot-3 sophomore tried to hit MSU’s first 3-pointer a few minutes later. Stanford’s Francesca Belibi stuffed it.
Belibi grabbed the blocked shot and outran Janssen down the floor. The 6-foot-1 junior took two long strides, rose and threw down a right-handed dunk. Maples Pavilion erupted.
The play encapsulated Stanford’s 78-37 first-round win Friday night on its home court. The top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Cardinal (29-3) used their impressive size, length, speed and skill to overwhelm the 16th-seeded Bobcats (22-13).
The game started on a good note for MSU. Kola Bad Bear forced a steal on the first possession, and Darian White rose for a mid-range jumper a few seconds later. A shot White would’ve gotten off over most defenders was swatted by Cameron Brink, Stanford’s 6-foot-4 third-team all-American post.
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Brink, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, galloped down the floor and scored the first points of the game on a layup. She blocked another shot, this time from Kola Bad Bear, on the following possession. Once again, Brink followed it up with a fast break layup.
MSU put up a good effort defensively, forcing several turnovers and holding Stanford to a 44.6% field goal rate for the game. But Brink’s blocks set a foreboding tone — the Cats would struggle to get uncontested looks from anywhere on the floor.
MSU shot 0 of 20 from the field in the first quarter and trailed 20-0.
"I don't think I've ever coached a quarter where someone didn't score," said Stanford 36th-year coach Tara VanDerveer, the winningest coach in college women's basketball history.
Janssen scored MSU’s first points with 9:15 left in the first half to cut the deficit to 23-2.
But the Cats, who reached its first NCAA tourney since 2017 with a Big Sky tournament championship last week, didn’t looked fazed by the rough start or Belibi’s coast-to-coast show stopper or the many other difficult stretches of Friday’s game. For instance, they went on a 6-3 run right after Belibi’s dunk to cut the deficit to 34-12.
It wasn’t the most lopsided 1-versus-16 women’s basketball game of the day. Top-ranked South Carolina blew Howard out 79-21.
The 14th-seeded MSU men fell to Texas Tech 97-62 about six hours before the women tipped off. Before this year, MSU had never sent its men’s and women’s teams to the same NCAA tournament.
This story will be updated.