No. 12 Stanford women’s basketball (14-4, 4-2 Pac-12) will look to both rebound from its last loss against No. 11 Oregon State and overcome road difficulties as it travels down south to face a struggling USC (14-4, 2-4) that recently fell out of the national rankings.
After their loss against the Beavers, the Cardinal must push their style of play from the beginning moments of the game against a Trojan team that has been outperformed over its recent two-game losing streak. While the Cardinal have underachieved on the road, they must find a way to win in order to stay competitive in the Pac-12.
For the majority of the season, the Stanford team has not been able to consistently perform on opposing courts. In their last matchup, the Cardinal dropped a 10-point lead going into the final quarter to lose their third game on the road. Even in victories, however, the Cardinal have seemed to lack consistency on the road, often lacking the offensive spark that they find at home.
Even in defeat, however, head coach Tara VanDerveer found some light in Stanford’s play in Corvallis. “I thought we did a really good job for three quarters and the fourth quarter really got away from us. The game is four quarters, and it doesn’t do any good to win three of them,” she said.
In order for Stanford to halt the Trojan offense, the Cardinal will have to stop the Trojans’ big three: senior guard Jordan Adams, fifth-year senior forward Temi Fagbenle and sophomore forward Kristen Simon. All three have been averaging double digits in points per game in addition to leading the team in all facets of offensive production.
The Trojans’ key to success has been Fagbenle’s dominance. In both of their conference victories, Fagbenle, a graduate transfer from Harvard, scored in double digits and lead the team in offensive production. On the other end, the Trojans’ forward duo of Fagbenle and Simon have both averaged 8.8 rebounds per game on the season.
Offensively, the Stanford team will need to once again find its spark. In their last game against Oregon State, the Cardinal allowed a 22-4 run in the final minutes of the game and were unable to find any success with the ball. In order to penetrate and get the points in the paint, Stanford will have to once again rely on how well junior forward Erica McCall can compete with the Trojan forward duo.
The key for road victories has been the Cardinal’s bench production. In their most notable victory away from home, against the Arizona Wildcats, the Cardinal bench racked up 19 points, which enabled them to cruise to victory; and even in its loss against Oregon State, when usual go-to players Lili Thompson and Erica McCall struggled to score, it was Kailee Johnson, a fairly new addition to the Cardinal’s starting rotation, who stepped up, notching a career-high 14 points to keep Stanford ahead for most of the game.
While remaining equal in overall record, the Stanford women’s team has outperformed USC in conference matchups, earning four wins and the fourth spot in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, after a tremendous start to its season, USC has not been able to find its stride in conference play and has now dropped four out of its last six games.
The game will be played at Galen Center in Los Angeles on Friday at 8:00 p.m.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.