The No. 12 Stanford women’s basketball team (15-5, 7-1 Pac-12) will seek to extend its solid play from last weekend’s victories when it faces Washington State and Washington on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
After dropping their first conference game to ASU on January 19, the Card got back on track by earning two wins over the weekend against UCLA and USC.
Three players — sophomore guard Briana Roberson, senior forward Bonnie Samuelson and senior point guard Amber Orrange — notched 20 points or more when Stanford faced the Bruins. Despite trailing by double digits for the third time this season, the Card battled back and reduced UCLA’s lead to three at halftime. The squad eventually gained the lead with 18:50 left in the game and maintained it for the rest of the night.
Stanford led for 35 minutes of the USC game behind efforts from sophomore forward Erica McCall, who went 5-5 from the floor, Orrange and sophomore guard Lili Thompson, who after scoring only one point against UCLA notched 21 points against the Trojans, 12 of which were from the free throw line.
“[Those were] great two wins,” said head coach Tara VanDerveer about the games against the Los Angeles schools. “I’m really excited about how different people have stepped up to help us.”
Yet if history repeats itself, the games against the Cougars and Huskies may be closer than the ones against the SoCal schools.
The Washington schools gave the Card some trouble when they played a few weeks ago: in both games Stanford was down at halftime and later faced substantial deficits that they managed to overcome.
Kelsey Plum, the nation’s third leading scorer, did some damage for the Huskies with 16 points and 6 assists, while two other players, Jazmine Davis and Aminah Williams, scored in double figures (13 and 12, respectively). The Huskies have gone 4-3 in conference play, losing to Stanford, ASU, and Oregon State, yet since dropping their first game against Stanford they have gone 4-1.
Looking forward to this weekend’s rematch, the Card will have to not only limit the productivity of those three players but also must start off playing aggressive defense to ensure that they do not face another halftime deficit. In addition, strong shooting, especially in the first half, would help the team get into its flow and build a sizeable lead. If Stanford can get four or five of its players to score double digit points, as it has done in its most successful games, the team should be in good shape.
Another factor to take into account is Roberson’s performance. Despite not scoring in the game against Washington, she went 8-8 from the free throw line, including 6-6 in overtime to seal Stanford’s victory against the Cougars. She has thrived in conference play and earned her second career start against UCLA, during which she scored a career-high 21 points. In her last five games, Roberson has averaged 11.8 points, the third highest average for the team.
“She’s fast, she’s smart, she’s hard working, [and] she’s always high energy coming out,” VanDerveer said about Roberson. “I love Bri [Roberson] guarding the ball, I like her energy on the ball, her aggressiveness, and she’s turning it up on offense. I think this offense helps her a lot.”
These keys to success apply to the game against Washington State, as well. In the two teams’ last matchup, the Card were down by five at half before going down by 11 points in the second half. Stanford formulated a comeback in the last five minutes, eventually forcing the game into overtime, which they dominated 15-5.
Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira will be the Cougar players to watch for in Saturday’s game, after they combined for 41 of WSU’s 76 points in the first game. The Card must also defend the drive and play solid help defense to ensure that Washington State does not score as many points in the paint (30) as they did in their previous matchup.
Although Washington State lost four conference games in a row, against ASU, Cal, Stanford and Oregon State, they are now on a three game winning streak that the Card must do their best to halt.
“Since we are a little more familiar with how the Washingtons play I think we’re just going to come out and be very aggressive from the get-go,” said Roberson about the two upcoming games. “’I think we’re just going to continue to focus on our offense and work to defend such great players.”
The Card will tip off against Washington State on Saturday, January 31 at 12:30 p.m. before taking on Washington on Monday, February 2 at 7pm.
Contact Alexa Philippouat aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu