No. 15 Stanford women’s basketball will host No. 22 George Washington this Saturday in what should be an exciting game between two 2-0 and top-25 ranked squads.
Both teams are looking to continue the success of their previous stellar seasons. Last year, the Cardinal captured their 11th Pac-12 Tournament Championship and appeared in their eighth consecutive Sweet Sixteen. After the losses of Amber Orrange and Bonnie Samuelson in the off-season, Stanford was able hold its first two opponents to under 50 points in a 74-45 win against UC Davis and a 65-48 victory over Gonzaga.
George Washington also got its second win in as many games after routing rival American University 74-48 behind Caira Washington’s big double-double. The 6-foot-2 sophomore, along with star senior Jonquel Jones, are hoping to build on the Colonials’ success after a 29-4 overall record last season. With a 15-1 conference record, the Colonials won the A-10 regular season and conference titles before being upset in their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2008.
GW is returning 12 of the 14 players from that campaign and are poised to make some noise this year. Jones was named to the Wooden Award Top 30 list, the only player to make the list outside of the Power 5 conferences. The reigning Atlantic 10 Player and Defensive Player of the year, she tallied 20 double-doubles last year, 10th best in the NCAA, and finished the year with averages of 15.3 points and 12.5 rebounds.
Jones anchors a physical roster that looks to set the tempo of the game on the block. She’s shown great chemistry with Washington, and the Colonials take advantage by looking to play off the ball after getting it inside. They run a lot of high-percentage plays and pound the glass on both ends – they finished with a +13.8 rebounding margin last season and led the country in rebounds per game. In their two wins, they average +22.5 on the boards.
The Cardinal, on the other hand, are sporting a younger roster than in years past and are without a senior starter for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Head coach Tara VanDerveer, who is starting her 30th year on The Farm, wants to maximize the youth and quickness of her deep roster by playing with pace. She is looking to space the floor with quick ball movement and play more aggressive defensively.
That strategy has paid off so far as Stanford had 14 steals, 14 blocks and forced 35 total turnovers in its first two games, including 21 against the Aggies after holding them to 23.6 percent shooting in the game.
Junior post Erica McCall got back to her impressive play against Gonzaga, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds on 9-of-17 shooting after a 4-of-14 outing against UC Davis. Out on the perimeter, junior guard Lili Thompson went 4-of-7 from 3-point land and totaled 21 points in the team’s second game last weekend. Stanford has come out slow in its two first halves this season, though its tenacious defense has kept the game close until sealing both games away in the second half.
Thompson was also named to the Wooden Award Preseason list, though she has come off the bench in the first two games due to a minor injury. She is projected to start on Saturday.
Stanford is 2-0 against George Washington all-time and is in search of its first win against a top-25 opponent this season after going 3-6 last season. Catch the tip-off this Saturday at noon in Maples Pavilion.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.