Women’s basketball runs past Arizona on the road

Jan. 29, 2024, 2:39 a.m.

No. 6 Stanford (19-2, 8-1 Pac-12) dished out back-to-back defeats on the road against Arizona State (9-11, 1-7 Pac-12) on Friday and Arizona (11-10, 3-6 Pac-12) on Sunday. Coach Tara VanDerveer continues her winning stride after becoming the winningest coach in college basketball history last Sunday against No. 25 Oregon State (17-3, 6-3 Pac-12).

Top-10 finalist lists were announced for the Lisa Leslie and Katrina McClain Awards over the weekend. Senior forward Cameron Brink was named to preseason watch lists for the Wooden Award and Lisa Leslie Award, now maintaining her spot on both watchlists as top-25 and top-10, respectively. Junior forward Kiki Iriafen was not named to any lists preseason, but her accolade-filled season earned her a spot as a top-10 finalist for the Katrina McClain Award.

Halfway into conference play, the Cardinal lead the Pac-12 in both overall and conference record. Only nine more contests stand in the way of Stanford securing its fourth consecutive Pac-12 championship.

Stanford vs. Arizona State

The Cardinal opened its weekend with a dominant performance in Tempe, crushing Arizona State 80-50 on Friday. 

Brink returned to the starting lineup in the desert after facing a leg injury against Oregon (11-11, 2-7 Pac-12) and sitting out VanDerveer’s record-breaking match.

The match started tight, with both teams matching one another and keeping the margins close. The largest lead of the first period was four by Stanford, with Brink leading at 8 points. The Cardinal ended the quarter up four, 21-17.

But in the second quarter, Stanford’s defense kept the Sun Devils to just six points. Iriafen contributed the same amount to the Cardinal offense in the same period.

“I love defense,” Brink said. “I think that’s what wins championships. Sometimes it gets me in (foul) trouble, but that’s how I can help my team the most at times.”

Arizona State opened with a 4-0 run to tie the score 21-21, but Stanford’s 16-2 run — with no response from the opponent — opened up a 14-point lead, 37-23, at halftime.

Iriafen dominated the third with 13 points, with a fast break layup cementing a 20+ point lead for the Cardinal. The game was all but clinched at that point, as the Sun Devils found no luck reversing Stanford’s large lead in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Cardinal won by a score of 80-50.

Brink and Iriafen boasted standout performances, both hitting double-doubles and spearheading a 44-point campaign in the paint.

Iriafen led with 27 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. She achieved her fifth consecutive double-double performance, the most in a row by any Stanford player since Chiney Ogwumike in 2014. Brink added 20 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

“They are so skilled and they complement each other very well,” VanDerveer said. “The second half we took care of the basketball; we got the ball inside, and there was no answer for Kiki or Cam.”

“[Brink and Iriafen] are veteran posts and they are potential WNBA draft picks,” said Arizona State coach Natasha Adair. “You are not going to stop them, but you can try to contain them. Even when we created the first miss, we can’t let them get their miss back.”

Graduate guard Hannah Jump was back in her groove from the perimeter, adding 13 points on 50% from three, the only other Cardinal to make a double-digit score contribution.

Stanford vs. Arizona

Stanford made the trip down to Tucson for another huge victory on Sunday, trouncing Arizona 96-64.

Brink and Jump opened the match strong, combining for 19 of Stanford’s 21 in the first. The two produced a 12-0 run midway through the quarter which helped the Cardinal maintain 9-point lead at period’s end: 21-12.

Brink led with 10 points, while Jump went 3-for-3 from the arc, with assists from Brink, Iriafen and junior guard Elena Bosgana. This was a reassuring performance for the San Jose guard after going 0-for-6 from the arc against Oregon State.

Stanford stretched its lead to 18 points off a 10-0 run heading into halftime: 41-23.

By the half, Brink already achieved a double-double performance: 16 points and 16 boards.

With 4:15 left in the third, Brink was subbed out and sat out the rest of the game. By this point, she had 25 points, 19 rebounds and two blocks.

Subbed in her place was Iriafen, who tallied 19 points and seven rebounds in the second half. Iriafen came one rebound short of a double-double, which would have been her sixth consecutive this season.

“Having two big players out there kind of gives teams, like, ‘pick your poison,'” Iriafen said. “Whoever they want to guard, the other big goes off, and vice versa. We have a lot of energy between us.”

The Cardinal’s lead over the Wildcats only increased with every quarter played. By the final period, Stanford was up more than 30 and maintained this margin until the clock hit 0:00, defeating Arizona 96-64.

The bench amassed 28 points in the large victory, half of which came from redshirt sophomore guard Jzaniya Harriel. This match marked her career-high in points and field goals made in a single match, with 14 and five respectively. She is currently shooting 45.7% from three on 46 attempts this season.

What’s next

The Cardinal return to Maples for a weekend of ranked opponent matchups: No. 11 USC on Friday and No. 2 UCLA on Sunday.

These matchups will feature several big names in college women’s basketball. For USC, 2023 No. 1 women’s high school recruit Juju Watkins has exceeded expectations in her first season of college ball. Watkins is averaging 25.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game in her first season. 

For UCLA, former Stanford player and 2022 No. 1 women’s high school recruit Lauren Betts will make her return to the Farm. Betts leads the Bruins in scoring and rebounding, as the 6’7″ center is averaging 15.4 points per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds. UCLA complements Betts with a strong backcourt trio of Kiki Rice, Charisma Osborne and Londynn Jones, who each average over 12 points per game.

Tip off against USC is set for Friday at 7 p.m. PT.

Hawe is a staff writer for the sports section.

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