After escaping its Los Angeles trip with two comeback victories, the Stanford women’s basketball team (26-2, 15-1 Pac-12) will welcome the Washington Huskies (16-11, 9-7) to Maples Pavilion on Thursday night in one of its last remaining games of the regular season. Stanford clinched its 14th consecutive Pac-12 title over the weekend, so though the contest won’t mean much in the Pac-12 standings, the Cardinal will be looking to get revenge for its only conference loss of the year.
On Feb. 9, the last time that the two teams played, Washington was able to squeak out a victory on its home court, beating the Cardinal 87-82. The game marked only the second conference loss for Stanford in five years. In that game, the Huskies had five players reach double figures in scoring. However, this time, the Cardinal will look to tighten up its defense and ramp up the intensity on both sides of the ball.
Washington will come to the Farm looking for its dynamic guards to continue to power its offense. Freshman Kelsey Plum, who burned Stanford with 23 points in the last matchup, and junior Jazmine Davis average a combined 40.1 points per game for the Huskies, a number accounting for over half of Washington’s offense. The attacking pair is also able to get to the free-throw line at very high rates, as both Plum and Davis have attempted over 182 free throws apiece this year. If the Stanford defense is able to keep the two of them from getting into the lane at will, the Cardinal will have a much easier road to victory this time around.
The most important part of the Cardinal’s offensive game plan will again include getting the ball into the hands of its most trusted playmakers, National Player of the Year candidate Chiney Ogwumike and point guard Amber Orrange, early and often.
Over the weekend in Los Angeles, Ogwumike averaged 26.5 points and 11 rebounds, while Orrange averaged 11 points and four assists while hitting 56.3 percent of her shots from the field. In the last contest against the Huskies, Washington was able to shut down Ogwumike when it counted, something the Cardinal cannot allow to happen again.
Thursday’s game, and the next one against Washington State, will be important in allowing the team’s other role players further opportunities to develop and get comfortable before the conference tournament. Over the weekend, head coach Tara VanDerveer trotted out a new starting line-up with junior Bonnie Samuelson and freshmen Erica McCall and Brianna Roberson joining Orrange and Ogwumike. All of these players will likely play significant roles in Stanford’s postseason campaign this year, and so it is important for them to continue their strong development now.
The Cardinal, which leads the all-time series 43-15, will attempt to further the pattern of dominance over Washington on Thursday night. However, Washington has won six of its past eight games and will look to put up a tough fight.
The game will tip off at 8 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Lauren Lockett at llockett ‘at’ stanford.edu.