Trojan takedown: Brink sets career block record on Pink Friday

Feb. 19, 2023, 1:45 a.m.

No. 3 Stanford women’s basketball (24-3, 12-2 Pac-12) returned home to face No. 25 USC (19-6, 9-5 Pac-12) in the “Pink Game” on Friday night. Both teams were suited up head-to-toe in pink to raise awareness for breast cancer.

A packed crowd at Maples Pavilion, including NBA All-Star Steph Curry, witnessed a low-scoring yet highly competitive matchup that saw junior forward Cameron Brink become Stanford’s career leader in blocked shots, tallying six on the night. And with a final score of 50-47, the Cardinal notched another victory.

For two teams that average well over 50 points a game, their face-offs have taught fans to expect the unexpected. In their last head-to-head, the Trojans beat Stanford 55-46, snapping the Cardinal’s 39-game winning streak against Pac-12 opponents and 51-game winning streak against unranked opponents. Head coach Tara VanDerveer and the Stanford squad entered Friday’s match hungry for redemption.

Score droughts were a common theme throughout the night. Not a quarter went by in which both teams did not experience at least one drought averaging three minutes, which explains the low-scoring result. During score droughts, the Cardinal would encounter trouble securing defensive rebounds and moving the ball for an effective offensive possession. Still, Stanford outscored USC in every quarter except the fourth, where a four-minute score drought almost cost them the game.

The final quarter saw both teams in the thick of scoring droughts at various points. With two fouls called on Stanford, the Trojans trailed by 3 points with 00:37 left in the game. Stanford held onto the ball, looking to drain the clock and log a win, but USC managed a defensive rebound off a missed field goal from the Cardinal with three seconds remaining. All the Trojans needed was a shot from beyond the arc off an out-of-bounds baseline pass to send the game into overtime. But VanDerveer was quick to send in freshman center Lauren Betts to break up the play. A corner three was attempted through traffic, but ultimately airballed the Cardinal into the winning seat: 50-47.

In addition to setting the career record for blocks, Brink delivered the only double-double of the night for either team, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Oregonian wasn’t alone in the block department, however, as freshman guard Indya Nivar and sophomore forward Brooke Demetre both thwarted attempts by the Trojans during the Pink Game.

It seems VanDerveer is entrusting Nivar with more minutes, as the North Carolinian has averaged 17 minutes per game over the last nine games for the Cardinal. Against USC – her fourth 20-plus minute game of the season – she shot 100% for a total of 9 points. 

Senior guard Haley Jones was just short of a double-double, with 8 points and 10 rebounds, but she produced five assists and Stanford’s only two steals of the night.

Next up, the Cardinal will host No. 16 UCLA (21-6, 10-5 Pac-12) for their final home game of the season. Jones, senior guard Hannah Jump, and senior forwards Fran Belibi and Ashten Prechtel, often known as “The Funky Four,” will be honored on Senior Night at Maples, commemorating the end of their four-year journey together.

Tip-off is scheduled for Monday night at 6 p.m. PT.

Hawe is a staff writer for the sports section.

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