With homecoming crowd, Stanford's Kiana Williams bombs from deep 'just like high school'
SAN ANTONIO — This was Kiana Williams' night in a snapshot.
The Stanford senior and San Antonio native missed a corner jump shot in the third quarter against Oklahoma State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Stanford kept possession but a pass from under the basket sailed over Williams' head and nearly crossed midcourt. No worries. Williams coolly retrieved the ball, dribbled toward the 3-point line and fired a straight-on jumper.
"Just like high school," Kiana's older brother, Michael, shouted from the stands.
Playing on the same court where she once starred for San Antonio Wagner in the state semifinals, Williams provided the leadership, if not the scoring spark, necessary to push No. 1-seed Stanford one game closer to a Final Four appearance Tuesday with a 73-62 win over tougher-than-expected No. 8-seed Oklahoma State at the UTSA Convocation Center.
It was the 16th consecutive win for Stanford (27-2), which advances to the Sweet 16 and will face the winner of Wednesday's Missouri State-Wright State matchup.
"This wasn't our best game. Obviously, we know that," said Anna Wilson, one of two seniors in Stanford's starting lineup, along with Williams. "We have so much more to give. We're lucky that we have another opportunity to play."
"The tone in the locker room was we can play a lot better," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.
For Williams, who left the game late in the third quarter with an ankle injury but returned a couple minutes later, it was a mixed bag.
She scored 12 points, but shot 4-of-13 from the field — all of her baskets were 3-pointers. However, her timing was impeccable.
Williams was at her best early in the game when Stanford was attempting to create breathing room against Oklahoma State (19-9).
The score was tied 23-23 early in the second quarter when Williams went to work. She nailed a trio of 3-pointers during a decisive 19-4 run that expanded a tie score to a 42-27 halftime advantage. Tack on Williams' assist to Francesca Belibi for a layup, and Williams' full arsenal as a clutch scorer and ball distributor was on full display.
"She tweaked her ankle," VanDerveer said. "She went back in, so that's good. She'll have her ankle in a (ice) bucket."
Up in the stands, Michael Williams could hardly contain himself as he watched his younger sister down on the court.
"This is a dream come true for her to be playing in her hometown with her family here watching," said Williams, one of approximately 52 family members and friends to attend Kiana's first two tournament games in San Antonio.
Seeing fans in the stands for one of the few times all season was a welcome change and a motivating factor for Stanford's players and coaches.
"We have had no fans all season long," VanDerveer said. "It's great for our team. It gives us an extra boost."