After dropping only their second conference match this season against No. 15 UCLA, No. 8 Stanford women’s basketball (20-3, 10-2 Pac-12) will look to rebound and close out the season in their last home stand of the year this weekend against Colorado (13-10, 5-9) and Utah (14-9, 3-9).
The Cardinal women came up short for only the third match this season against an intense Bruins squad who were able to reach the line an astounding 33 times on the night. Despite playing sound offense, Stanford couldn’t overcome 11 turnovers and a cold shooting third quarter in which coach Tara VanDerveer’s team went 4-20 from the field and allowed UCLA to complete their first win at Maples since 1999.
Stanford will hope to pick up their defensive play while hosting two lower-tier conference opponents who have the last and third-to-last field goal percentage in the Pac-12 respectively. However, despite coming in as the favorite, Tara and her team know how important rebounding and winning down the final stretch of the season is for postseason success.
This season the Card have been led by a core of seniors Karlie Samuelson, Erica McCall, and Brianna Roberson who, in addition to junior Brittany McPhee, all lead Stanford in scoring and minutes. In her third season with the club, McPhee has taken on a starting role this year and proven her worth, averaging a career high 4.8 rebounds per game with only a couple games left in regular season.
On Friday, the Cardinal will have to account for the Buffs’ sophomore guard Kennedy Leonard, who on average drops 18 points per game and dishes out 5.6 assists per game while starting every game for Colorado. The Stanford women will also need to focus on keeping possession and maintaining accuracy with their ball movement, as the Buffs lead the conference in steals and possess turnover margin that has played a significant factor in their victories.
Against Utah, Stanford will need to shift its focus towards the paint to stop the Utes’ powerful post game led by redshirt junior forward Emily Potter, who leads this squad by a large margin in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage. Potter is complemented by selfless sophomore guard Erika Bean, who is now tied for second in the NCAA in assists due to her pairing with Potter down low.
Regardless of the point of attack, the Cardinal women can and should rise above after this weekend feeling confident in their squad, if they can continue playing efficient, selfless basketball. While being led by their senior core, Stanford has eight different players averaging double digits in minutes under coach Tara, with seven players also average above five points per game, exemplifying the Card’s deep rotation.
Follow all this weekend’s action at Maples or on gostanford.com, with Stanford taking on the Colorado Buffs on Friday at 8:00 p.m. and the Utah Utes on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu