March 21, 2022
Come Hull or high water, Stanford was going to Spokane
An appraisal of Spokane's own Hulls, heading back where they started
PALO ALTO, CA — On a day that had already seen two massive upsets, No. 1 seed Stanford and eight-seed Kansas were tied at 33 early in the second half. That’s when Lexie Hull decided she didn’t want her Stanford career to end.
Hull would score 12 of the next 17 points for Stanford and finish the game with a career-high 36, leading the Cardinal to a 91-65 victory over the Jayhawks and a place in the Sweet Sixteen. Lexie and her twin sister Lacie have meant so much to this Stanford program and wanted an opportunity to play in their third Sweet Sixteen in as many opportunities. The fact that the Sweet Sixteen was in their hometown of Spokane was only added motivation.
“I think it’s just I really wanted it. In the back of my head I was like, I want to play in Spokane. My entire body wants to play in Spokane,” Hull said. “It’s just our team, we really kept the ball moving, found the hot hand and ran with it the rest of the game. Definitely wouldn’t have gotten 36 points without everyone else, so credit to everyone.”
Lexie and Lacie Hull came to Stanford as freshmen in 2018 and have had two of the most prolific careers in Cardinal history. The sisters have a career record of 119-16 in the red and white, with at least one more game ahead of them. They have started 179 of 255 possible games for the Cardinal and have started all but one game together this season. They also helped lead the Cardinal to their third national title last season. The two 6’1 guards from Spokane have each brought different value and elements to Stanford.
Lacie started more right from the jump as a freshman, while Lexie has always been the more prolific scorer. That’s not to say Lacie can’t score — she posted a career-high 19 points against Northern Colorado during her sophomore season and was the 2020-21 Pac-12 Sixth Woman of the Year. This season she has taken on the role of floor general with the departure of Kiana Williams and done a great job of being a facilitator, with a career-high 87 assists this year.
She is best known as a defensive stopper, being named a two-time Pac-12 all defensive honorable mention. On Sunday night, Lacie struggled early with foul trouble but found a way to contribute. She hit a huge three to start the Stanford scoring in the third quarter and played tremendous defense. She and Lexie were the primary defenders on Holly Kersgieter, Kansas’ leading scorer, and held her to just seven points.As usual, Lacie could be spotted on the floor multiple times during the game, diving after loose balls and crashing into players on illegal screens.
“They are extremely competitive,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. “You don’t have a bad day with those twins. I mean, every day they come to practice, they’re always the ones shooting afterwards… I am so spoiled as a coach to coach them.”
However, Lexie was the star of the show on Sunday, with a career-high 36 points, six rebounds and three assists. She also tied a personal best with six steals. Just like her sister, she was everywhere on the defensive end, picking up multiple illegal screen calls on Kansas just like Lacie. Early in the game, she dove on the floor after a loose ball she knocked away from a Kansas player and gave Stanford a possession after being fouled while recovering the ball, as Maples Pavilion erupted — typical of what Lexie brings to the floor on a daily basis for the Cardinal.
“I think her defense ignited her overall performance… she made some really tough mid-range pull-up jump shots that were contested…she got back-cuts, she got post-ups, she got rim attacks, and they started running her off staggers and she started making threes,” said Kansas Head Coach Brandon Schneider. “She is just a really talented player who just got better and better and just played with a mentality that we’re not going to lose tonight.”
Incredibly, 25 of her 36 points came in the final two quarters. With the 36 points, she moved up to 27th all-time in Stanford career scoring. She is now just 13 points behind Erica McCall for 25th. She also had the most points scored in an NCAA tournament game for Stanford since Nneka Ogwumike scored 39 in 2012. When she subbed out of the game with four minutes remaining, the Maples faithful gave her a raucous standing ovation in the likely farewell. After the game she got not one but two different bear hugs from Cameron Brink and Fran Belibi. The Hull sisters have made a lasting impact not only on Stanford fans but also their teammates.
“Right before we ran out, I looked at Lexie and I was like, I’m going to start crying right now, and Lacie told me, she’s like, not yet,” Brink recalled afterward of the moment. “She’s so serious; she’s like, don’t cry, Cameron… they’re just the heart of our team. They really are. They’re the glue. Off the court, too, they plan every like function we do as a team…Lex is such a great person, and I just love you.”
The captains lead the defense and plan all team functions off the court. Not only are they great players but both are great students, each making Pac-12 honor roll at least once in their career. Coach VanDerveer joked she wishes that their mom had given birth to triplets instead of twins so she could coach one more of them.
She’ll have to settle for two of them, back home in Spokane, against a fourth-seeded Maryland team Friday night. VanDerveer sounds okay with that.
“They are so exceptional, students, student-athletes. I’m so lucky,” VanDerveer said. “I’m so excited — I was really excited on the bench for both — especially Lexie, just how she played, but obviously Lacie is so important, too, to be able to go play at home. Whatever happens up there, Lexie put our team on her back, and just said, we’re going to Spokane; I’m going to do whatever I need to do, and she did.”
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.