By Niles Egan
No. 5 women’s basketball (11-1, 0-0 Pac-12) begins conference play at home on Friday against Washington State (7-6, 0-1 Pac-12). After a surprising loss to Texas on Dec. 22, Stanford rebounded in its most recent game, beating UC Davis 67-55 on Dec. 28. The Cardinal will look to keep the momentum going against the Cougars.
Historically, Stanford has done very well in conference openers. The Cardinal have won their first game in conference play for the past 19 seasons. They have also never lost a Pac-12 opener at home. Stanford has also traditionally done exceedingly well against Washington State, having never lost to the Cougars in all 65 meetings between the two programs.
Stanford is set to follow precedent again on Friday, behind an extremely talented roster. Of the 24 All-Americans in the program’s history, nine are on this year’s team. And 12 players were rated as five-star recruits coming out of high school.
Stanford’s offense has been thriving behind contributions from many players. Junior guard Kiana Williams reached 1,000 career points against Tennessee on Dec. 18. With 179 3-pointers, she is just 12 shy of scoring the 10th most threes in school history. Freshman guard Hannah Jump has been an effective addition to the Stanford offense as well. Her .451 3-point field goal percentage is ranked second in the Pac-12 and 26th nationally.
Perhaps the most dominant force on the team has been sophomore guard Lexie Hull. Leading the team in points per game with 14.4 and in rebounds per game with 6.0, Hull has really come to play a significant role for the Cardinal this season on both sides of the court.
Plenty of recognition for Stanford’s success so far this season can be given to head coach Tara VanDerveer. Entering Friday’s game, she has a 1,078-248 record as a collegiate head coach and is just 21 wins away from breaking the legendary Pat Summitt’s record for winningest coach in women’s college basketball history.
Stanford plays Washington State at 7 p.m. PT on Friday at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Niles Egan at negan ‘at’ stanford.edu.