After a pair of home wins against Utah and Colorado last weekend, No. 14 Stanford women’s basketball (18-8, 12-2) gears up for its final home game of the regular season as it hosts archrival Cal (17-8, 8-6) on Thursday night.
Despite this game being officially the last home game of the season, the team honored its two seniors–Brittany McPhee and Kaylee Johnson- on Sunday against Colorado in order to accommodate their families and fans. After a slow-paced game and a nine point win, the two seniors shed tears as they both received standing ovations from the crowd in Maples.
Stanford is riding a six-game winning streak–its longest this season–with the team’s last loss coming against UCLA on Feb. 4. Since then, the team has beat conference rivals Oregon and Oregon State on the road, and has managed to stay in contention for the regular-season Pac-12 crown. The Cardinal is currently tied with both Oregon and UCLA with a conference record of 12-2, making these last few games decisive in the race to the Pac-12 championship.
During that stretch, McPhee has shown her leadership on the court. The senior led the Cardinal against the Ducks and the Beavers two weeks ago, dropping an average of 25.5 points over two games, including a career-best 33 points in Eugene against Oregon. She followed her stellar weekend with a 25-point performance against Colorado on Sunday. During the game, she was the Cardinal’s only scorer above 10 points.
Guard Kiana Williams is also an impact player for Stanford. The freshman is third-leading scorer in the conference, and had a stretch of 99 minutes without a turnover snapped this Sunday against Colorado. Fellow starters Johnson and junior Alanna Smith have also been leading the team; the senior is eighth all-time in rebounds and sixth all-time in blocks in Stanford’s history, while Smith has posted a team-best five double-doubles this season.
Heading into the contest, Stanford is ranked ninth in the country in field goal percentage allowed, while its 31.5 percent allowed at home places the team third in the nation.
In addition, Stanford, currently climbing back up the AP ladder, wants to finish the season among the nation’s top 16 teams in order to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Currently sitting at 14 despite playing the country’s fifth-toughest schedule, the Cardinal needs quality wins during both the end of the regular season and the Pac-12 Tournament on March 1-4 in Seattle.
Last season, Smith was the X-factor against the Bears. She averaged 22 points, seven boards and 2.5 blocks in the series’ two games last year, leading the Cardinal to a pair of wins. While the Cardinal is 68-19 all-time against Cal, the team is 31-8 at home and has won 18 of the last 20 games.
After taking on the Bears at home, Stanford will play the second game of the series against Cal in Berkeley, and will head North to play Washington and Washington State for its final two games of the season.
The game on Thursday kicks off at 7 p.m. in Maples Pavilion and will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.