After going stone-cold from behind the 3-point line in its first Pac-12 loss of the season, the No. 5 Stanford women’s basketball team was on fire a week later, drowning Arizona in threes while pulling off an impressive 74-48 win – a high note to carry with it to USC and UCLA this weekend.
On Sunday, Stanford was able to demonstrate the depth of its roster this year as all starters played less than 25 minutes, allowing for multiple reserves to step up and prove themselves. Heading into the penultimate weekend of Pac-12 regular-season play, it will be important for Stanford to continue building experience for younger players in order to be successful in Seattle for the Pac-12 Tournament – for which Stanford has already received a bye into the quarterfinals – and the NCAA Tournament.
Junior guard Bonnie Samuelson tied her career-high for 3-pointers in a game with five, finishing with 17 points. Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike played a season-low 22 minutes but still managed to score 15 points and grab nine rebounds, while starting point guard Amber Orrange had nine points and nine assists.
All five freshmen were able to see ample playing time and make contributions. Starting guard Lili Thompson led the way with nine points and four assists and forward Erica McCall also scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds. Briana Roberson played a season-high 20 minutes at the point guard position, grabbing a steal and finishing with four points. Forward Kailee Johnson hit a triple, grabbed four rebounds and finished with two assists.
With the starters able to afford so much rest and the reserves able to maintain the same tempo and high level of play, the team looks fully prepared to embark on its final regular-season road trip.
The Cardinal will take on the Trojans on Friday at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. After dismantling USC at Maples last month, Stanford was able to shake off the second-place team in the Pac-12 and assert itself as the clear leader.
Including its loss to Stanford, USC has lost four of the last six games, which pushed it into the logjam in the middle of the conference standings. Senior Cassie Harberts leads the Trojans with 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while junior guard Ariya Cook is averaging 15.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Against UCLA earlier this season, the Cardinal was able to put together a 30-point lead before it lost much of that gap when Ogwumike sat out with 10 minutes remaining, allowing UCLA to come back to within single digits and make it a close game with five minutes remaining. UCLA is led by sixth-year senior forward Atonye Nyingifa, who averages 19.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, and sophomore guard Nirra Fields, who averages 17.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Tipoff at the Galen Center against USC is set for 6 p.m. Friday with Sunday’s game at Pauley Pavilion against UCLA starting at 4 p.m.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.