In its first game of the Pac-12 Tournament, No. 1 seed Stanford women’s basketball (26-3, 16-0 Pac-12) defeated No. 8 seed Oregon State (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12). The Cardinal led 16-2 after the first quarter and never looked back, ultimately winning 57-44.
Coming out of the tunnel, Stanford took the court wearing Stanford women’s soccer shirts and wristbands with the initials “KM” to honor senior goalkeeper Katie Meyer, who passed away on Tuesday. Meyer made a lasting impact on the Stanford women’s soccer team and the Stanford community.
To open the game, Stanford hit back-to-back transition threes — one from sixth-year guard Anna Wilson and another from senior guard Lexie Hull — to take a 6-0 lead. It was the Cardinal’s defense, however, that made the difference in the early minutes.
“There was a lot of communication,” Wilson said. “Everyone switched really well and communicated really well. It was just kind of a team effort on the defensive end.”
The Cardinal’s team effort held the Beavers to just two points in the first quarter. Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore forward Cameron Brink, and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team members, Wilson and Hull, led the charge on defense.
Early in the second quarter, the Cardinal led 19-2. But the Beavers would not go away quietly.
Following an exchange of buckets, Oregon State went on a run of its own, scoring 11 straight while keeping Stanford scoreless for over five and a half minutes.
Wilson hit two straight jumpers to extend the Cardinal lead to 12, but Oregon State forward Ellie Mack responded with a buzzer beater from just inside half-court to put an exclamation point on the Beavers’ strong second quarter. At the break, Stanford’s lead had shrunk to nine points.
Momentum remained on Oregon State’s side to begin the third quarter, as guard Talia von Oelhoffen hit a 3-pointer to cut the Cardinal lead to six. However, with the score as close as it has been since the first two baskets of the game, junior guard Haley Jones took over.
“Tara said at halftime that the shots I was taking in the first half were good shots,” Jones said. “I just kind of had to have confidence in that. And my teammates instilled a lot of confidence in me that those are shots that are makeable and within the flow of the offense. I think things just started getting going in the third quarter.”
Jones, recently named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, scored 12 of her game-high 20 points in the third quarter. Following a 3-pointer from junior guard Hannah Jump, Stanford held a 47-31 advantage entering the final period.
Freshman forward Kiki Iriafen and Jones both scored a pair of baskets early in the fourth to extend the Cardinal lead to 22, starting an 18-4 to conclude the game. In the end, Stanford walked away with a 57-44 victory, eliminating Oregon State from the Pac-12 tournament for the third straight year.
Looking ahead, the Cardinal will face No. 5 seed Colorado (22-7, 9-7 Pac-12) in the semifinals. Colorado defeated No. 12 seed Washington (7-16, 2-12 Pac-12) 64-52 in the opening round on Wednesday and upset No. 4 seed Arizona (20-7, 10-6 Pac-12) 45-43 on Thursday.
The Cardinal won their previous two matchups against the Buffaloes this season, although both games remained close throughout.
“We have to just play our game. I think that, again, when you play against top teams like we do in this conference I think it just makes us better,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer. “I would like to say that our team has improved more than Colorado since the last time we played.”
Tip-off is set for Friday at 6 p.m. PT in Las Vegas.