Heading into Arizona for another road trip after two road wins last weekend, the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal (15-1, 4-0 Pac-12) boasts two players that are receiving lots of recognition for their prowess on the court. Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the sixth time this season, while junior guard Amber Orrange was named to the watch list for the Lieberman Award, awarded to the best point guard in the nation.
The two-man play between Ogwumike (27.3 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game) and Orrange (10.4 ppg, 4.6 assists per game) last week at Utah and Colorado led to open shots for Orrange and easy pick-and-roll opportunities for Ogwumike. This was very much the same strategy that the team used for offensive efficiency at the end of last season. The difference this year is that the duo has had help from all positions and class years.
In last Friday’s game against Utah, fifth-year senior forward Mikaela Ruef had the most complete game of anyone on the roster with eight points, 14 rebounds, two assists and two steals. On Saturday against Colorado, freshman guard Karlie Samuelson lit it up from the 3-point line, going 5-for-8 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the free throw line to finish with a career-high 19 points. She also finished with two steals.
Offensively, the Card was just as efficient against both Utah and Colorado, scoring 87 points in each contest. The difference in win margins in those two games — beating Utah by 26 but allowing Colorado to finish within 10 — can be attributed to careless ball handling down the stretch in Boulder.
Head coach Tara VanDerveer’s dissatisfaction with the team’s handling of the Buffaloes’ full-court press in the final minutes of the game was evident. The Card recorded 18 turnovers in the narrow win, almost six more than it tends to average.
Taking care of the ball will be important in Monday’s game against No. 19 Arizona State (14-2, 3-1). ASU has won three consecutive Pac-12 matchups since starting conference play after a surprising loss to Washington State. The Sun Devils know how to win close games in the end, as they are 6-0 in games determined by five points or less and games that go to overtime.
They are led by fifth-year senior guard Deja Mann, who averages 11.6 ppg, and freshman forward Kelsey Moos, who has scored 9.1 ppg with 6 rpg. While the Sun Devils don’t have any outstanding scorers, six other players average more than five points per game, so their scoring is well distributed.
Before dueling Arizona State, the Card will first need to take care of business against the Arizona Wildcats (4-11, 0-4). Arizona finished non-conference play on a three-game winning streak but has yet to record a Pac-12 win, sitting at the bottom of the conference along with Utah and Oregon. Redshirt junior guard Candice Warthen (13 ppg, 3 apg) and senior guard Kama Griffitts (10.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) lead the Wildcats on the court.
The Card has not dropped a game to Arizona since a close loss at Tuscon in 2004 and will look to extend that streak against the worst team in the conference.
Tipoff in Tucson against Arizona is set for 6 p.m. on Friday. Game time at Arizona State is set for 4 p.m. on Monday.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.