Win one, lose one: Women’s basketball on the road

Jan. 15, 2024, 10:46 p.m.

No. 8 Stanford women’s basketball (15-2, 4-1 Pac-12) was on the road last weekend for two highly anticipated matches: against No. 19 Utah (12-5, 7-1 Pac-12) on Friday and against No. 5 Colorado (15-1, 5-0 Pac-12) on Sunday. The Cardinal triumphed over Utah 66-64, but were defeated by Colorado 59-71 — in their final match as Pac-12 opponents.

Stanford vs. Utah

Stanford claimed a close victory in Salt Lake City, defeating the Utes in a one-possession game. 

The Cardinal struggled to limit Utah’s perimeter action early in the game, with the Utes going 5-11 in the first quarter alone. The Utes attempted 32 shots from the perimeter overall — with a comparatively diminutive 12 attempts from Stanford. Four of Utah’s players put up 33 points total from the arc. Stanford’s 3-point performance was spearheaded by redshirt sophomore guard Jzaniya Harriel, who sank back-to-back shots from downtown in the second quarter. The Cardinal entered halftime in the lead 40-33.

Junior forward Kiki Iriafen continued her shining season and notched her sixth double-double game with 25 points and 16 rebounds. This game marked her second with a contribution of over 25 points and over 16 rebounds against a top-25 opponent — and made her this season’s only player with that accomplishment nationwide.

Graduate guard Hannah Jump was the only other Cardinal to score in the doubles, with 12 points and four assists. Jump had a more physical game against Utah, driving into the paint for multiple 3-point plays.

Utah managed to keep the match quiet for senior forward Cameron Brink, ESPN’s No. 2 player in college women’s basketball nationwide, as she contributed only 9 points and seven rebounds. However, Brink was pivotal in key moments, assisting Jump and Iriafen on shots crucial to keeping the Cardinal ahead.

Despite the tight score margin throughout, Stanford held a lead after the second quarter. With three minutes left in the game, Brink sank a 3-pointer that earned a 4-point lead.

A steal by Iriafen — with 4.4 seconds left in the game — and a subsequent foul shot by sophomore guard Talana Lepolo sealed the victory for Stanford, 66-64.

Stanford vs. Colorado

The Cardinal then traveled to Boulder to face Colorado. It was Stanford’s first contest against an opponent who was ranked higher since the top-two showdown last season against then-No. 1 South Carolina.

Stanford gained an early 12-4 lead, its largest lead in the game, thanks in part to back-to-back 3-pointers by Brink.

The Cardinal had zero success outscoring the Buffaloes in any period but struggled the most in the third quarter, where they scored only 11 points to Colorado’s 22. The Cardinal faced a 19-point deficit late in the period.

Despite a difficult night, Brink earned another career accolade, reaching over 1000 career rebounds.

The score margin went as low as 6 late in the fourth, as Stanford forced a 5-0 run. With less than a minute left in the game, the Cardinal’s best bet was to execute fast break plays and draw fouls. But unfortunately, they could not produce a run large enough to stay in the game, losing to the Buffaloes 59-71.

Iriafen was the highest scorer for the Cardinal with another double-double game, contributing 19 points and 18 rebounds, including 9-for-9 at the foul stripe. Brink, too, had a double-double performance with 12 points and 13 rebounds. 

Junior forward Brooke Demetre achieved a season-high 12 points and went 4-for-8 from deep.

Next up

Stanford returns home to face Oregon (11-7, 2-3 Pac-12) on Friday and Oregon State (14-2, 3-2 Pac-12) on Sunday. If the Cardinal sweep the two schools, head coach Tara VanDerveer will have 1,203 wins under her belt, surpassing Mike Krzyzewski to become the winningest coach in college basketball history. Tip-off against Oregon is set for 7 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion.

Hawe is a staff writer for the sports section.

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