No. 13 Stanford women’s basketball (22-6, 12-4 Pac-12) looks close out the regular season on a high against league-leading No. 7 Oregon State (24-3, 14-1) on Friday and Oregon (20-7, 9-7) on Sunday.
On Thursday, the Cardinal hosts a strong Oregon State squad that moved up to seventh in the national rankings this past week and looks poised to seriously challenge for the conference title. The last time these teams saw each other, Stanford held the Beavers to only 58 points — 10 points under their season average. But the Cardinal offense faltered, and the Beavers’ first-ranked defense held the Cardinal to only 50 points.
This time, the Beavers face a new and improved Stanford team that has recently found its rhythm. The Cardinal are playing more efficiently both on offense and defense, winning seven of their last eight games, with their only loss coming in an overtime game-winner against co-league leader Arizona State. The Cardinal will be playing to reestablish their top-tier position in the Pac-12 as the tournament looms closer.
This Sunday, Stanford will host a hot Oregon team that won nine straight games to transform a 0-5 start into a 9-7 record — enough for fifth in the league. Determined to cement their case for a NCAA tournament bid, the Ducks will come into Maples hungry and relentless. With the Ducks coming off a one-day rest after facing Berkeley, the Cardinal have a chance to finish their season with a statement win against this streaking Oregon squad.
After beating the Ducks in Eugene to drop Oregon to 0-5 in conference earlier this season, Cardinal star junior guard Lili Thompson commented, “Despite Oregon’s 0-5 record, I think they’re a great team. We saw that tonight. They play really well, and they play together.”
For Stanford, the Cardinal will rely on their depth and adaptability in order to establish a rhythm against the Beavers. Thompson is a perfect example of this adaptability. Despite averaging 14.4 points per game in the Cardinal’s recent victorious stretch, Thompson hasn’t been the sole centerpiece for the offense. When she slumps, other Cardinal guards have stepped up as the lead facilitators.
In NBA style, Oregon State has been sporting a dominant big three this year, with leading-scorer senior guard Jamie Weisner at the helm. Meanwhile, down in the post, senior center Ruth Hamblin has been tearing up opposing defenses, averaging 11.3 points per game on 55 percent shooting from the field. The two combine with junior guard Sydney Wiese, who is averaging 12.7 points per game and leads the team with 99 assists, to create an offense capable of threatening any team.
Hero ball seems to be alive and well with the Oregon team, which has been able to rely on senior forward Jillian Alleyne. Over the past season, Alleyne has performed exceptionally, and currently leads the conference in rebounds per game by more than 3 rebounds. Alleyne is averaging 19.1 points per game, placing her second in the Pac-12.
Against two powerful Oregon schools, Stanford must prove its heavyweight status in the league and play some strong and efficient basketball. If the Cardinal play at the top of their game, they have the chance to make a big statement heading into the postseason.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.