After completing a strong weekend against the Los Angeles schools last week, the No. 4 Stanford women’s basketball team (16-2, 7-0 Pac-10) heads to Oregon this weekend to kick off a four-game road trip.
The Cardinal has captured 10 straight wins, and the trip up north could help separate Stanford from the remainder of the pack.
Oregon (12-6, 3-4) has had a consistently unusual season in the Pac-10 so far. The Ducks dropped both games to the Arizona and southern California schools, but remain undefeated against the Washington schools and rival Oregon State.
Oregon is a perfect 3-0 at home in conference play thus far, and most of its success this season can be attributed to the powerful “J-Team.” Junior forward Amanda Johnson and redshirt junior guard Nia Jackson are both averaging over 16 points per game this season, and junior Jasmin Holliday contributes 8.3 points per game as well. Altogether, the three players make up 50 percent of the Ducks’ scoring this season.
Although Oregon has some scary scorers, history has not been so kind to the Ducks when they have taken on Stanford. The Cardinal has won 11 in a row against the girls in green, and Stanford hung 100 points on Oregon both times they played last year, winning 100-80 in Eugene and 104-60 in Maples Pavilion.
Oregon State (7-11, 0-7 Pac-10) has found itself in the cellar of the Pac-10 this season. However, the poor record can be deceiving, as the Beavers’ margin of defeat in Pac-10 games is only 6.4 points per game.
Like Oregon, the Beavers rely heavily on a trio of players that all average more than 30 minutes of playing time per game. Freshman guard Alyssa Martin, who averages 14.9 points per game, sophomore guard Sage Indendi, who averages 10.8 points per game and senior forward El Sara Greer, who adds 8.4 rebounds and 9.5 points per game.
Stanford heads north playing some of its best basketball of the season. After dominating UCLA and USC, the accolades came flying in for the second week in a row, as senior forward Kayla Pedersen was named Pac-10 player of the week for the fourth time in her career.
Pedersen, the only player to rank in the top three in assists, points and rebounds for the Cardinal, was also named a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award on Wednesday, an award given annually to seniors with outstanding academic and athletic achievements.
Additionally, Pedersen will have a chance to make history this weekend, as she needs to play only eight more minutes to eclipse Virginia Sourlis’ 25-year-old Stanford record of 4,148 minutes played.
“I think it will all hit me at the end of the season, the fact that, ‘Wow, I spent four years playing in a Stanford uniform,’” she said. “But until then, it’s just one game at a time.”
Pedersen’s pursuit of history was briefly derailed earlier this year, when she had to sit out a road game against DePaul, in which Stanford suffered its first loss of the season, a 91-71 defeat.
However, the senior from Fountain Hills, Ariz., found that sitting out has helped her.
“Obviously, I didn’t choose to sit out, but it made me realize how to use all five players on the floor,” Pedersen said. “It showed me some things on offense and defense that you can’t really see when you’re out on the floor trying to make a play.”
Since the DePaul game–which snapped her streak of 121 consecutive starts dating back to 2007–Pedersen has averaged 12 points and nine rebounds a game, in addition to three double-doubles.
However, Pedersen insists that the individual achievements are secondary this season to the team’s aspirations.
“Being named to the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award is very cool, for sure, but right now, we’re motivated to win this Pac-10 season first,” she said.
After Saturday’s game at Maples, USC head coach Michael Cooper said that he thought the Cardinal would be the next national champion, and Pedersen admits that a unique sense of purpose has been driving this year’s team.
“Just the way this team is–special is the perfect word to describe it,” she said. “For us seniors it has to be this season, and I think we’re all totally dedicated to that goal.”