The No. 2 Stanford women’s basketball team will look to close out a perfect home campaign when it hosts Seattle University tonight at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal (26-1, 17-0 Pac-12), which has not lost at Maples in nearly five full years, will take on the Redhawks (17-9) in a rare February nonconference game.
Stanford is blazing hot as the regular season comes to a close. The Cardinal is riding a 23-game winning streak, with each of the last five being decided by at least 23 points. Stanford’s 79-game home winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation, will be put to the test tonight as the Cardinal looks to close out its fifth straight perfect home season.
The low-post duo of sisters Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike continues to baffle the opposition, as each is averaging a double-double for the season. Senior Nneka leads the Cardinal with 21.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, but sophomore Chiney is not far behind with 16 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. One of the sisters has led Stanford in scoring in 22 of the team’s 27 games, and one of the two has been the rebounding leader in 23 of the 27 games.
For Stanford’s three seniors — Nneka Ogwumike and guards Lindy La Rocque and Grace Mashore — tonight will be the final regular-season game at Maples Pavilion, a building where the trio is undefeated.
“We try our best to bring the heat every time we’re here at home because this place is so important to us, and I’m really excited to play Seattle,” Nneka said. “I think it’s good that we’re getting in another game in between now and Cal; it is better than practice, I’d rather play.”
Stanford and Seattle have never squared off before, as the Redhawks are currently transitioning into Division I and will move from being an independent to the Western Athletic Conference next year. The transition year has been very successful for the Redhawks, who boast an 8.2-point margin of victory for the year and an 11-3 record in their past 14 games.
Guard Talisa Rhea, the reigning Independent Player of the Week, leads Seattle with 13.9 points and 5.3 assists per game. She has some experience against the Cardinal, as Rhea played for Oregon State for three seasons before transferring to Seattle. In seven career games against Stanford, Rhea averaged over nine points per game, including a 26-point outburst in Corvallis two years ago. Rhea has yet to beat the Cardinal in seven tries.
The Redhawks’ main inside presence is forward Kacie Sowell, who averages 13.8 points and a team-leading 9.6 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-2 sophomore also shoots an impressive 59 percent from the field, but she could have her hands full against the Ogwumike sisters. Forward Ashley Ward is the other Redhawk averaging double digits with 10.9 points per game, but at 5-foot-11, Ward will be at a significant height disadvantage against Stanford’s forwards, who are all at least 6-foot-2.
For the year, Seattle averages 71.3 points per game, but the Redhawks will be hard-pressed to keep up that average against the stingy Cardinal defense. Stanford has held 12 of its past 13 opponents below 60 points, and Tennessee is the only team to score more than 71 points on Stanford this year. Meanwhile, the Redhawks have allowed half of their 26 opponents to score 70 points, and now they must take on the nation’s No. 6 scoring offense in Stanford, which averages 77.6 points per game.
After tonight’s nonconference game, the Cardinal will return to conference play with a trip across the Bay to take on rival Cal in the season finale. Stanford will then participate in the Pac-12 tournament in Los Angeles next week before it attempts a run at a fifth consecutive Final Four.
Stanford and Seattle will square off tonight at Maples Pavilion at 7 p.m.