By Sally Egan
The No.6 ranked Stanford’s women’s basketball team is currently a dominant force no one wants to reckon with, and they look to wreak havoc this weekend against two more Pac-12 foes. Coming off a weekend in which they beat Washington and Washington State by a combined score of 176- 118, the Cardinal (16-1, 6-0 PAC-12) look to extend their 10 game winning streak by two this weekend as they hit the road to face Utah and Colorado.
First up, the Cardinal plays on Friday at Colorado (10-7, 0-6 Pac-12) in a game that doesn’t look too difficult on paper. Colorado is currently last in the Pac-12, but they have played some of their best basketball against tough opponents like Stanford; the Buffaloes only lost by 6 to No. 16 ranked Arizona State earlier this month. Last year when the Cardinal played Colorado at Maples Pavilion, the Buffaloes staged a late comeback, going on an 11-2 run as they tried to make up a 20 point fourth quarter deficit. They eventually lost, 62-53. Colorado hasn’t beat Stanford since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
The key for Stanford to continue their winning streak against Colorado will be watching out for senior Kennedy Leonard. While Stanford may have the league’s leader in blocks in Alanna Smith, Leonard is currently leading the Pac-12 with a whopping 3.2 steals per game, tallying 43 in just 14 games. She also leads the Buffaloes in points per game. While she had 3 steals against Stanford last year, defensively the Cardinal held her to an abysmal 25 percent from the field.
On Sunday, Stanford will face a tough opponent at No. 21 ranked Utah (16-1, 5-1 PAC-12). Utah’s only loss has come in a buzzer-beating 65-63 heartbreaker to Arizona State where the Utes had a 6 point lead with less than 1:30 left in the game. Since then, Utah has recovered and disposed of their next four Pac-12 opponents with ease, most recently in a 78-59 win over Colorado. Despite their ranking, Utah has yet to beat another ranked opponent so they will certainly be eager to prove themselves Sunday against Stanford.
Utah had a much worse season last year than they’re having this year. They got demolished by Stanford 70-49 at Maples last year. This season, they’re led by senior Megan Huff, who is currently second in the PAC-12 with 9.4 rebounds per game. Stanford shut Huff down with ease last year, holding her to just 5 points and 7 rebounds. Stanford’s defensive performance won’t matter nearly as much as their offensive performance, though. The key to the game for Stanford will be figuring out how to score on the conference leading defense. Utah currently holds opponents to 57.8 points per game. This means Smith, Kianna Williams, and DiJonai Carrington will have to continue playing as well offensively as they recently have been to help ensure a Cardinal victory.
This will be Stanford’s last road stretch for a few weeks as they play at home in 3 of their next 4 games after this weekend.
Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu