NASSAU, Bahamas — Cameron Brink was the difference in an early season showdown between two of the top teams in the country.
Brink had 21 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks to help seventh-ranked Stanford edge No. 4 Indiana 69-66 on Thursday at the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship tournament.
“Cam is a great weapon inside, drives well from the high post. She’s a complete package who can score,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She’s very quick.”
Brink, who set a career high on the boards, also added five assists for the Cardinal (4-1) and made one of two free throws with 6.8 seconds left to make it a three-point game.
Indiana had one last chance, but Ali Patberg’s 3-pointer was off the mark.
“This will serve us well down the stretch once the Big Ten starts,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We didn’t shoot it great and we still had a chance of winning the game. The silver lining there is we can compete with anyone in the country.”
With the Cardinal clinging to a 61-59 lead with 4:33 left, Brink scored to start a 6-0 run that gave the Cardinal an eight-point advantage with 2:19 to go. The Hoosiers (4-1) had gone without a field goal for 5:19 before Aleksa Gulbe swished a 3-pointer from the wing with 37.5 seconds remaining that made it 68-66.
Indiana got a stop on the defensive end when Brink turned it over with 13.2 seconds to go. The Hoosiers had a chance to tie it, but Grace Berger missed both free throws with 8.7 seconds left after she was fouled.
Brink could have sealed it a few seconds later but made only one of two free throws, setting up the Hoosiers’ final chance.
Patberg had 19 points to lead Indiana.
The game was played at the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas in a converted ballroom complete with a low ceiling and a raised stage right off midcourt that held up the scoreboard. There were bleachers behind the two benches for fans to sit on.
It was the first year there was a women’s tournament, and the event brought in four of the top seven teams in the country. No. 5 North Carolina State beat second-ranked Maryland 78-60 in the opener.
This was a matchup of veteran squads that returned most of their starters from last season, and the two highly ranked teams put on a show. Stanford jumped out to a 10-point lead behind Fran Belibi before the Hoosiers rallied to within 37-34 at the half. Indiana scored the final seven points of the second quarter.
Stanford couldn’t extend the lead to more than eight in the second half, and Indiana was able to close to within a single point a few times in the fourth quarter but couldn’t ever tie it or take the lead.
BATTLE OF THE BOARDS
Stanford outrebounded Indiana 59-38 and that was a huge key to the Cardinal victory.
“Rebounding was the bugaboo today for us,” Moren said. “We told the kids that was the No. 1 key. They are so much bigger than we are. That was going to be a big key if we were going to win the game.”
Indiana: Went toe-to-toe with the defending national champions but couldn’t pull out the victory. The Hoosiers showed they can play with the best.
Stanford: The Cardinal need to clean up a few things on both ends of the court but pulled out a win over a top-five opponent.
VanDerveer starred at Indiana from 1973-75 after transferring from Albany. She helped the Hoosiers to the AIAW Final Four in 1973. Indiana has faced VanDerveer just one other time in school history, an 87-72 loss in 2001 at a tournament Stanford hosted.
“I’m really excited for Indiana. During the tournament I texted Teri how I’m excited how well they are doing,” VanDerveer said. “I’m jealous I didn’t get to wear the striped pants when I played there.”
It took Stanford about 19 hours to get from Gonzaga on Sunday — its last game — to the Bahamas because of travel delays. Stanford went from Spokane, Washington, to Phoenix. The Cardinal then flew to Miami but had to divert to Fort Myers, Florida, because of fog. Finally, after sitting on the plane for a few hours, the team was able to get to the Bahamas.
Haley Jones returned to Stanford’s lineup after missing the Cardinal’s win over Gonzaga for an undisclosed illness. She played 22 minutes and finished with eight points. Jones had her left ankle taped in between the third and fourth quarters.
“Haley did well, she’s doing well,” VanDerveer said. “She gave us some really good minutes, she’s fine.”
Stanford: Faces No. 18 South Florida on Friday.
Indiana: Plays Miami to close out the tournament on Friday.