By Arman Kassam
Tonight at Maples Pavilion, No. 7 Stanford women’s basketball (21-4, 11-3 Pac-12) faces the Arizona Wildcats (17-8, 7-7 Pac-12) for their second match of the season together.
Last time the two teams met, the Cardinal crushed the opposition with a 78-48 performance. Just after the Wildcats had defeated two ranked teams at home, Stanford’s senior forward Alanna Smith and junior guard DiJonai Carrington added 20 and 19 points to the board, respectively, snapping Arizona’s dream of a streak. Smith, Carrington and sophomore guard Kiana Williams have combined for 63 percent of all points this season. Reflective of a steadily improving defense, Stanford also limited the Wildcats to shoot 19 percent in the first half of their match.
“Everyone’s a weapon, everyone’s a threat,” Smith remarked after the win back in January. “That’s what makes it easy for us offensively because it opens the floor, it spreads it out. We’re driving in and make pitches to anybody — easy money.”
Whether or not today’s game against Arizona will be easy money is typically not a matter of debate, but Stanford has not been as hot in the past month as it was at the outset of the season. The Cardinal are 4-3 for their last seven matches. On Sunday, Feb. 10, Stanford lost its fourth game of the season against No. 3 Oregon (24-2, 13-1 Pac-12), suffering a 40-point deficit by the end of the match — it was the team’s first 40-point defeat since 1985.
Carrington was the only Cardinal to break into double-digit points; in contrast, the Ducks’ Sabrina Lonescu scored 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. This soul-crushing defeat was quickly covered up with victories at UCLA (16-10, 9-5 Pac-12) and USC (15-10, 5-9 Pac-12), but even the win against the Trojans was a close 69-67. Stanford shot only 37.1 percent in its most recent match.
The Cardinal have dropped from an average of 80.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting in the first 18 games of the season to 66.6 points on 40.0 percent shooting in the past seven games.
Though the past few games have been unusual for the Cardinal in that they were not easy-come, past precedent supports a comfortable Stanford win against Arizona; the Cardinal have clinched 32 of the last 33 games against the Wildcats. Arizona’s last victory traces all the way back to 2001, and the Wildcats have only won five of their past 12 games.
Arizona’s Cate Reese, Aari McDonald and Dominique McBride all reached double-digit points in their most recent win against Colorado (11-14, 1-13 Pac-12). McDonald is currently averaging a whopping 24.8 points this season and Reese, the highest-ranked freshman that the Wildcats have ever signed, is second on the squad at 11.8 points. The two lead the Wildcats on nearly every statistic as well, but will two superstars be enough to bring down the Cardinal colossus? Nay, I dare say.
The game against Arizona will take place today at 7 p.m. PST at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.