“Well, our team competed in spurts,” head coach Tara VanDerveer said to open her press conference. “When we played really hard and we took care of the ball, I thought we did very well.”
When No. 4 Stanford (24-4, 13-3 Pac-12) was not getting bullied inside the paint, turning the ball over or outrun, the game was close. The Cardinal even won the fourth quarter by 10 points and tied the second. The 74-66 loss came for other reasons.
Stanford took its first lead of the game at 8-7 in the first quarter, then did not score for eight minutes. No. 3 Oregon (26-2, 15-1 Pac-12) kept scoring, widening the gap to a game-high 19 points.
The Ducks won points in the paint 34-24 and on fast breaks 11-0, shot 9% better from the field, made eight more free throws and turned eight offensive rebounds into 16 points.
Typical markers of success for the Cardinal—rebound margin, 3-point shooting and the turnover battle (Stanford had not lost when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent in 15 games)—all tilted in their favor. Stanford’s top two scorers on the season each had fantastic games.
Junior guard Kiana Williams recorded 14 points, three rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes. Sophomore guard Lexie Hull caught fire for 27 points—two shy of her career high—while shooting 6-of-12 from beyond the arc with five rebounds and five assists.
Williams and Hull, however, were not enough. Oregon had all three of its soon-to-be top draft picks available and two had phenomenal games. Stanford shut down Oregon’s leading scorer Ruthy Hebard, who had as many points — four — as turnovers.
“I don’t think [Hebard] has had four points since the fourth grade,” VanDerveer joked.
In her place, Satou Sabally exploded for nine rebounds and 27 points on 10-of-17 from the field and 4-of-7 from range.
“She’s not number one on the defend list,” VanDerveer said. “It’s guarding Ionescu and the pick and roll.”
After terrorizing Stanford for 37 points in the first meeting, Sabrina Ionescu took a more well-rounded approach with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for her 26th career triple-double. With her ninth rebound of the game, she became the first Division I player with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. The feat came hours after she flew back from the Kobe Bryant Memorial in Los Angeles — and while she had the flu.
“Sabally had a great game against us and Sabrina [Ionescu] really turned it up in the second half,” VanDerveer said.
In the first half, Ionescu turned the ball over five times and had just six points as she was blanketed by sophomore guard Lacie Hull. Stanford’s defense let up in the third quarter as Oregon used a few scoring runs to turn a five point lead into an 18-point lead. Afterwards, the visitors could coast to victory.
“They’re good for 40 minutes,” Lexie Hull said. “I think the second half we competed, but we could never get out of that hole.”
Although this was Stanford’s final regular season game in Maples Pavilion, it was not senior night — that was celebrated two weeks earlier. The 6,511 in attendance saw senior Nadia Fingall score seven with a team-high 12 rebounds and senior guard Anna Wilson score two with lockdown defense. The other two seniors, DiJonai Carrington and Mikaela Brewer, did not appear; Carrington has been out with an injury since the fifth game of the season.
The Ducks prevailed over the Cardinal in Maples for just the third time and have now come out on top in four of the last five meetings. The win also guarantees Oregon at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season title.
“I think they’re the number one team in the country,” VanDerveer said. “They have all the weapons, they’ve got great experience. [Head coach] Kelly [Graves] does a fantastic job with them.”
Stanford fell to 5-3 on the season against ranked opposition and will close the regular season against two more ranked teams this weekend in Arizona. First up is No. 13 Arizona on Friday.
“Hopefully we can take the good things that we did from tonight, and do them against Arizona and Arizona State to finish up and then see where we go in the tournament,” VanDerveer said.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.