Sent to the pound: Women’s basketball upset by Huskies

Feb. 5, 2023, 9:48 p.m.

No. 2 Stanford (22-3, 10-2 Pac-12) fell in a narrow 72-67 defeat against a spirited Washington (13-9, 5-7 Pac-12) in Seattle, Wash. on Sunday afternoon. 

Both teams went on long scoring runs and delivered incredible comebacks, as Stanford eclipsed a 10-point deficit to lead entering the fourth quarter. But the Cardinal could not prevail as Washington guard Elle Ladine came off the bench and had a career-high 21 points for the Huskies in an exceptional display.

The first quarter began with a series of missed shots by the Cardinal, as they went scoreless on their opening three possessions. They defended resolutely though, allowing just one field goal and forcing three Washington turnovers in the opening minutes. But then Stanford displayed its own sloppiness with three consecutive turnovers – the last of which saw freshman guard Talana Lepolo dribble the ball off her leg and out of play. Washington was happy to slow the game down early, letting the shot clock wind down on each of its opening possessions. 

After junior forward Cameron Brink gave Stanford its first points of the day, sophomore forward Brooke Demetre sunk a 3-pointer. Then, sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen pivoted, stepped through the defense and layed it in to give Stanford its first lead of the day as part of a 9-0 run. 

Stanford continued to put pressure on the Huskies defensively as Iriafen secured an offensive rebound surrounded by three opponents and drew the shooting foul. She scored both free throws to extend Stanford’s lead to 17-8 at the end of the first quarter.   

In the second quarter, the Huskies stormed back, cutting into Stanford’s lead with an immediate 3-pointer. Brink – with two first-quarter fouls – reentered the contest and scored twice from the line. Lepolo required treatment after she tried to draw a charge but caught an elbow to the face; a flagrant foul was called on Washington center Darcy Rees after review. Senior guard Hannah Jump scored her first points of the day from the resulting Cardinal free throws before Jump delivered her first triple of the game shortly thereafter. 

Brink returned to the bench after picking up her third foul and Washington – sensing an opportunity to make up points – began to heat up while Brink was absent. Ladine scored 7 points as the Huskies outscored the Cardinal 19-6 in the last five minutes of the first half. One positive for Stanford was the reintroduction of Lepolo, who scored her first field goal of the game. But the Cardinal were reeling after multiple turnovers kept the pressure on their defense. Stanford had 10 first-half turnovers and only nine assists, illustrating their inability to retain the ball. 

Another Lavine 3-pointer and a pair of free throws cut Stanford’s lead to one. The deep ball hurt the Cardinal once more as the Huskies recycled a layup miss and scored a 3-pointer to take the lead. After Jump missed a shot in the final minute of the quarter, Washington added to the Cardinal’s misery with a buzzer-beater layup, entering halftime on a 10-0 run and up 38-34. 

The Huskies remained on top at the outset of the second half with a minute-long possession after two offensive rebounds. Then, another offensive rebound set up an and-one opportunity for Washington and, despite missing from the line, a fourth offensive rebound in quick succession allowed the Huskies to score again and extend their run to 16 consecutive points. 

Head coach Tara VanDerveer brought on senior forward Fran Belibi in an attempt to secure the ball and snap the scoring drought. And she was involved immediately, feeding Brink under the basket, who converted the shot and free throw for a 3-point play. Following this, Demetre went on an incredible run, with three 3-pointers in under two minutes, two of which were corner shots taken right in front of the visiting bench. 

The momentum had shifted in Stanford’s favor and Demetre’s confidence was through the roof. She air-balled an ambitious deep shot but then found space on the right side to net her fifth 3-pointer of the game, and fourth in as many minutes. After missed shots from both sides – and with Stanford down by two – the quarter entered its final seconds. Yet there was just enough time for Brink to finish a fast break with a layup, despite being fouled. Brink made the free throw to give Stanford a 54-53 lead after a remarkable Demetre-inspired comeback in the third quarter.

Jump started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer of her own before senior guard Haley Jones threw up a rare triple since the shot clock was at risk of expiring. In a controversial play, Ladine was adjudged to have fouled Jones, who scored two of her three free throws to give Stanford some temporary breathing room. But Ladine responded immediately with a 3-pointer, before stealing the ball from Jones and setting up a successful layup with an impressive disguised bounce pass to the open Huskies forward Haley Van Dyke. Ladine then scored a single free throw to tie the game at 59 with six minutes left in the game. 

Once more, Stanford steadied the ship and refocused, led as always by the senior captain Jones. Her heroics provided three consecutive responses to Huskies’ scoring: first, she drove left and scored a jumper off the glass; then she cut under the basket and finished with a reverse layup; finally she capitalized on well-set screens to layup from the right side. Stanford held a 2-point advantage with three minutes to play. 

Brink and Jump committed two quick fouls which put Washington in the bonus and allowed them to tie the game. After a missed jumper by Brink, Ladine drove to the basket and scored, prompting VanDerveer to call a timeout to set a play. But Belibi – who had played a stellar game thus far – threw the ball to a Huskies player in a momentary lapse of concentration, forcing the Cardinal to desperately foul their opponents. The Huskies missed both free throws to ensure the game remained a one-possession contest. 

In the final minute, Stanford once again surrendered possession and had to foul the Huskies. But after going one-for-two from the line, Stanford had an opportunity to tie the game from downtown. VanDerveer drew up a smart play as Jones hurled the inbound across the court to Brink, who set up the red-hot Demetre with a good look. Her shot was just short, bouncing off the rim and provoking yet another Cardinal foul to stop the clock. 

Washington’s poor free throw shooting had given Stanford a chance, but Ladine kept her composure to give the Huskies a two-possession lead in the dying seconds. Stanford missed another 3-point attempt before Washington secured the win with 2 more points from the line. After Jones drove the length of the court and finished a lay-up, the game ended 72-67 in Washington’s favor. 

This is the Huskies’ first win against Stanford since the 2016 Elite 8, and they were worthy winners in today’s contest. The Cardinal will be particularly disappointed with its rebounding differential, as Washington out-rebounded Stanford 34-24. Brink was on the bench during crucial moments and failed to register a block for the first time in 35 straight games. 

The Cardinal continue their road trip with a game against Arizona (17-5, 7-4 Pac-12) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. PT. 

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