Michelle Smith WBB Feature: Stanford's Williams taking care of business
The funny thing about a moment like the one Kiana Williams experienced on Sunday. She doesn’t exactly remember it.
“Everything happened so fast. Next thing I know, I was at the bottom of the dogpile,” said Williams about the sequence in which the Stanford junior point guard hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go, then hustled to the other end of the floor, forced a turnover before grabbing the ball and hurling up a game-winning 40-footer from just beyond the half court line to lead the No. 4 Cardinal to a 69-66 win over Colorado in Boulder.
“I keep re-watching the video,” Williams admitted. “One of the parents recorded it in the stands and I have watched it a million times.”
It was a big moment for Williams in every conceivable way. Her heroics allowed Stanford to avoid the upset as Cardinal look to keep within striking distance of first-place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings heading into a weekend set of home games against No. 15 Oregon State on Friday on Pac-12 Networks and No. 3 Oregon on Monday on ESPN2.
“She is carrying our team right now,” said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. “She makes big shots, she plays defense. I just think we are so much better when we are clicking on more cylinders. But she stepped up really big this weekend.”
Williams is averaging 13.8 points per game for the season, 15.6 points per game in Pac-12 play. In the last two games against Utah and Colorado, she put up 49 points and hit 11 3-pointers. In the Colorado game, she scored a career-high 29 points.
Williams would tell you she is just doing her job, leading a team of young talented players and being a steady presence in the face of some significant injuries - including her best friend DiJonai Carrington and freshman Haley Jones, who came to Stanford as the No. 1 recruit in the nation.
“I’m the floor general, it’s my job to make sure we are all on the same page and doing what we are supposed to be doing,” Williams said. “It comes with being a point guard. I need to find a way to help us win, but I don’t consider it a burden or anything. But it’s a challenge for me.”
VanDerveer said that Williams has been “phenomenal” of late, that Williams needs more help as the Cardinal hit what might be their toughest stretch of the season with four straight games against ranked teams heading into the Pac-12 Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament.
“We are going with who is healthy and playing well,” VanDerveer said. “She’s been great and we have needed it.”
Williams said she is getting locked in physically and mentally for what’s about to come.
“It starts with practice today,” Williams said. “We can’t expect to win Friday (against Oregon State) or Monday (against Oregon) if we can’t bring the same intensity in practice to the games. We really hang our hats on preparation and that starts with me.”
As for the end of that Colorado game…
Williams said the game-tying shot “came off my hands weird, but it went in.”
And the game-winner. “I wouldn’t say I knew it was going it, but I knew I had to throw it up there and give it a chance.”
And now she has that video as her souvenir. And the memory.
Michelle Smith is a contributing writer for pac-12.com. She has covered pro and college sports for espnW, San Francisco Chronicle, The Athletic and AOL Fanhouse. She was has won several awards, including the WBCA's Mel Greenberg Media Award, presented annually to a member of the media who has best displayed commitment to advancing the role of the media in women's basketball. For previous Michelle Smith features on pac-12.com, visit the archives page.