No. 2 Stanford women’s basketball (17-1, 5-0 Pac-12) took on No. 8 UCLA (14-3, 3-2 Pac-12) at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles on Friday night. The last time Stanford lost to a Pac-12 opponent was two years ago against UCLA.. However, the Bruins failed to repeat history, as the Cardinal defense held its ground and, after a nearly scoreless fourth quarter for the Blue and Gold, paved the way to an 11th straight Stanford victory: 72-59. Many stars attended the top-10 matchup, including star-athletes Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, and witnessed Stanford defeat its first ranked opponent on the road this season.
Playing in her hometown, sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen kicked off with the first basket of the game. The Cardinal played great defense in the half, with junior forward Cameron Brink using her size to contest shots. Brink even played some time at the point guard position, assisting senior guard Hannah Jump with her classic 3-point jumper. UCLA’s star-shooter guard Charisma Osborne — who achieved 1500 career points in her minutes against the Cardinal — followed this with back-to-back 3-point jumpers, snatching the lead from Stanford. Jones followed this shot with a jumper in the paint, beginning the Cardinal’s 9-0 run that would force a five-point lead over UCLA.
Despite the run, Stanford struggled on offense to move the ball effectively, producing six turnovers. Jones carried the Cardinal in its offensive pursuits but was responsible for two of the team’s turnovers. Freshman center Lauren Betts struggled with her time off the bench to use her size for offensive boards and baskets, contributing one turnover herself. UCLA quickly closed the gap, and the game was tied at 36 apiece heading into halftime.
“Offensive movement isn’t happening the way it should be. We rushed and panicked. We are not playing good basketball.” said head coach Tara VanDerveer about her team’s performance in the first half. Against Cal, when VanDerveer voiced the same concerns during halftime, her team returned to the game and dominated on offense, with Brink scoring 18 in the second half alone.
Early in the third quarter, Brink picked up her third personal foul, sitting out for the remainder of the period. Iriafen got her second and third fouls, diminishing Stanford’s depth at the four and five positions.
An eight-minute drought in the fourth quarter for the Bruins shattered their momentum, as the Cardinal stretched their lead to 17 points on a 15-0 run. Junior guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu came off the bench to score nine points and force a steal. She nearly outscored UCLA in the quarter alone. The defensive pressure she created, especially when on-ball, alongside Brink’s size advantage for blocks and rebounds were key in forcing UCLA to shoot just 21% in the quarter. Stanford dominated in the fourth, outscoring UCLA 24-10 in the period and 72-59 in the game.
Senior guard Haley Jones had another stellar game, leading the team with 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. 2023 is proving to be a good year for Jones, as she’s come out of most conference games with a double-double.
Brink was a unit on defense with nine defensive boards and seven blocks — six coming in the fourth quarter alone. Overall, she produced 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinal.
10 players scored points for the Cardinal against UCLA. It seems VanDerveer is trusting more of her bench players to enter the game and make an impact.
Next, Stanford remains in Los Angeles to face USC (12-4, 2-3 Pac-12). Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. PT at Galen Center.