Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women's college basketball season.
Stanford had 13 days to sit on its loss to then-unranked Gonzaga on Dec. 2. The No. 11 Cardinal had finals during that time, so they were busy but eager to take the court Saturday versus No. 3 Baylor.
The Cardinal won 68-63 and all but shut down Baylor's inside duo of Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox, who combined for just seven points. Meanwhile, Stanford senior forward Alanna Smith had 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots, earning espnW national player of the week honors.
Smith, a 6-foot-4 Australian, made 7 of 12 shots and is shooting 57.8 percent from the field this season, including 50 percent from 3-point range (21 of 42). She is averaging 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds. Games like Saturday's make her WNBA stock continue to rise.
After the loss to Gonzaga, Smith said there was a lot of focus in practice about being more locked in.
"We need to have grit, we need to have good body language," Smith said, "and in this game, it showed that's what we've been working on."
Still, Smith was also thinking of what she didn't do well: free throws. She missed six; the Cardinal missed 12 yet still beat a team of Baylor's caliber.
"They deserved to win the game," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "They played better than we did, and they were more physical than we were."
Smith got a chance to face the best players globally when she played on the Australian national team in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in September, winning a silver medal. Smith was a youngster for the Opals, but she's one of the most experienced players for Stanford, which handed Baylor its first loss of the season.
"I thought our team worked really hard, especially defensively," VanDerveer said. "Alanna making her 3s, staying in the game and rebounding, it really gives us a good bounce-back from two weeks ago. I think we can build on this.
"Alana, who we're counting on, really stepped up and made some big shots for us."
The Cardinal can measure the progress they made in this victory pretty quickly: They travel to Tennessee on Tuesday (6 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
Also nominated: Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M; Ciarra Duffey, South Dakota; Megan Gustafson, Iowa; Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, South Carolina
Previous winners: Kristine Anigwe, Cal (Nov. 12) | Kierra Anthony, Louisiana Tech (Nov. 19) | Jackie Young, Notre Dame (Nov. 26) | Christyn Williams, UConn (Dec. 3) | Jenna Allen, Michigan State (Dec. 10)