Maples Pavilion was quiet on Friday night, as the No. 2-ranked Stanford women’s basketball team (10-3, 2–0 Pac-12) hosted Oregon (7-5, 0-1 Pac-12).
As a result of the new Stanford Athletics attendance policies, Maples was nearly empty, the sparse arena population consisting solely of media members and the families of student-athletes. The lower grandstands were removed, and the only sounds in the arena were the cheering from the team benches and the bounce of the basketball.
But the Cardinal were not fazed by a quiet Maples Pavilion and lack of a home crowd, as they defeated the Ducks 80-68. Senior guard Lexie Hull led all scorers with a career-high 33 points.
“I would have loved to have our fans here to see Lexie have such a great game in person,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said postgame.
Indeed, fans missed out on a dominant performance from Hull on Friday. She played all 40 minutes in the contest and never lost a step. She went 13-for-22 from the field, including 7-for-10 from behind the arc.
“It really came to my teammates finding me in those open spots,” Hull said. “I definitely couldn’t have got 10 [3-pointers] off without them finding me in those spots.”
Oregon got off to a quick start in the first quarter, jumping out to a 11-8 lead. The Ducks enjoyed the presence of forward Nyara Sabally and guard Endyia Rogers, both of whom missed time due to injuries earlier this season.
A basket from Sabally and a pair of free throws from Rogers gave Oregon the narrow edge with 4:30 left in the first quarter. As it turned out, it would be Oregon’s last lead of the game.
Junior guard Hannah Jump promptly tied the score with a 3-pointer, and on the following sequence, Hull gave Stanford the lead with another 3-pointer. The Cardinal would end the quarter up 19-15.
Stanford gained more separation in the second and third quarters, outscoring Oregon 23-16 and 24-19, respectively. The Cardinal began the final period with a commanding 66-50 lead.
But Oregon would not go down without a fight. Sabally and Rogers combined for 13 points in the fourth, as Oregon clawed to within 7 points of Stanford with 2:57 to play.
As the game clock ran under two minutes, Oregon had its final opportunity to make a move. Sabally went up for a jumper, but junior forward Fran Belibi met her in the air, blocking the 6-foot-5 forward’s shot.
In transition, the Cardinal found Hull for an open 3. Hull knocked down the shot, giving Stanford a 76-66 lead and all but securing a victory.
Stanford’s offense simply outpaced Oregon for the game. The Cardinal registered 56.9% shooting from the field, compared to the Ducks’ 36.4%. From behind the 3-point line, the Cardinal shot at a 57.1% clip, while the Ducks shot at 41.2%.
Despite such a strong performance, there was one spot of bother for the Cardinal on Friday — their defensive rebounding. The Ducks were missing one of their leading rebounders, 6-foot-7 forward Sedona Prince, yet they still beat Stanford 13-4 on the offensive glass.
Next up for Stanford women’s basketball is another matchup against Gonzaga on Sunday. In the two teams’ first meeting on Nov. 21 in Spokane, the Cardinal eked out a 66-62 win over the Bulldogs.
Stanford was originally scheduled to play Oregon State on Sunday, but COVID-19 concerns within the Beavers’ program resulted in the game’s postponement. With all the recent schedule changes, VanDerveer wants her players to embrace the unpredictability of this season.
“This is the world we live in,” VanDerveer said. “Last year I told my team, your middle name has to be ‘flexible.’ This year, your first name has to be ‘flexible.’”
Tip-off against the Bulldogs is scheduled for 3 p.m. PT at Maples.