By Sofia Scekic
The road has treated No. 6 Stanford (14-2, 11-2 Pac-12) kindly for the last two months, but, following Santa Clara County’s updated COVID-19 guidelines that allow contact sports to resume within county limits, the team is looking forward to returning to Maples Pavilion for the first time since early December. First, the Cardinal have one more game to play to complete their extended road trip: a Sunday matchup afternoon against Washington (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12) in Seattle.
The Huskies are in a similar position to the Cardinal, as Sunday’s game will mark their first home game in 43 days. A Dec. 9 loss to No. 11 Oregon was their most recent game that was played in the Alaska Airlines Arena; the Huskies then traveled to Colorado and Utah for two games following their 10-day holiday break and upon returning home, were forced to postpone three weeks’ worth of games due to COVID-19 protocols. The Huskies have not played particularly well at home this season, losing two conference games by a combined 32 points while defeating the University of Portland, which does not play in a Power 5 conference.
Earlier this season, when Stanford began its road trip by temporarily relocating to Las Vegas, the Cardinal routed the Huskies 83-50 in their conference opener at the Thomas and Mack Center, UNLV’s home arena. Sophomore guard Haley Jones put together a double-double with a career-high 29 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore forward Fran Belibi and sophomore guard Hannah Jump both scored 12 points to give the Cardinal three players in double figures for the game.
In the teams’ first matchup, the Huskies kept the score close through the first quarter in tune to just a 19-14 deficit entering the second quarter. Cold shooting doomed the Huskies from then on, as Stanford held Washington to 1-14 shooting while opening the second quarter with a 14-0 run. No Washington player scored more than Quay Miller’s 10 points as the Cardinal was able to shut down the Huskies for the rest of the game.
The Cardinal finished December’s game with a massive 46-22 edge in points scored in the paint despite freshman forward Cameron Brink only scoring seven points on 3-10 shooting. Brink scored in double figures in seven of the first eight games of the season, with the Huskies as the only team that was able to hold her below 10 points over that eight-game stretch. She has, however, improved immensely since that game and has overtaken Belibi as one of the Cardinal’s starters in the last three games.
How well each team takes care of the ball could also be a factor in Sunday’s game. Neither team was particularly good the last time they played, with Washington turning the ball over 17 times and Stanford committing 12 turnovers. While the Huskies were able to force the Cardinal into double-digit turnovers, they only scored seven points off the Cardinal’s turnovers — well below their current season average of nearly 18 points per game off turnovers. The Cardinal has played sloppily at times even in wins — the team committed 18 turnovers in a win over USC — and the Huskies could use that to their advantage as they try to upset the Cardinal.
Last time the Huskies beat the Cardinal in Seattle was in 2016, the year in which they also defeated the Cardinal in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament. Sunday’s game, available on Pac-12 Networks, will tip off at 1:00 p.m. PT.