By Sofia Scekic
After a short two-game return to Maples, No. 5 Stanford women’s basketball (17-2, 14-2 Pac-12) will travel north to face Oregon State (6-5, 4-5 Pac-12) on Saturday followed by No. 11 Oregon (12-4, 9-4 Pac-12) on Monday for the team’s final road trip of an unusual season.
Compared to the Beavers, the Cardinal has been comparatively lucky to have to deal with only four COVID-19 cancellations and postponements this season. By contrast, the Beavers have been limited to just 11 games due to COVID-19 complications within its own program as well as within opponents’ programs. The teams were set to play on Jan. 10 in Santa Cruz 𑁋 Stanford’s adopted home arena while Santa Clara County put a moratorium on contact sports 𑁋 but the game was postponed because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within Oregon State’s program. This week’s matchup was originally scheduled for Friday but was pushed back to Saturday for undisclosed reasons.
After losing back-to-back games in mid-January to Colorado and then-No. 6 UCLA, the Cardinal has returned to its dominant form and is currently riding a six-game winning streak. Stanford has won five of those last six games by at least 22 points, highlighted by their most recent 42-point victory over Utah in Maples. During the team’s current win streak, freshman forward Cameron Brink has seemingly cemented her role as the team’s fifth starter in place of sophomore forward Fran Belibi, who started the team’s first 13 games.
Brink has established herself as one of the better rim defenders in the country, ranking eighth nationally and first among all freshmen, with 49 blocks to her name. The 6-foot-4 freshman, who missed one game earlier in the season as a precautionary injury measure, has blocked 23 shots in her last five games and is instrumental in one of the best defenses in the nation. The Cardinal has held each of its 19 opponents to 41.5% shooting or lower and ranks fifth in the country in opponent field goal percentage with an average of just 33%.
Oregon State, like Stanford, has been one of the more successful teams in the country over the last four seasons. While the Cardinal hold a 60-9 edge all-time, six of the teams’ last eight matchups have been decided by five points or less, including both regular season games in 2020. Stanford prevailed in both of those matchups and completed a season sweep of the Beavers with a comfortable 68-57 victory in the Pac-12 tournament, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic-induced cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 basketball.
Oregon State has undoubtedly been negatively impacted by the 10 games this season that have been cancelled or postponed, yet the Beavers still rank highly — both in the conference and in the nation — in numerous statistical categories. The team is fourth-best in the country and best in the Pac-12 in three-point shooting percentage. On defense, the Beavers are 15th in the country and second-best in the Pac-12 in blocked shots per game, potentially creating an intriguing defensive battle at the rim with Brink leading the way for Stanford and the Beavers typically averaging over five blocks per game.
Saturday’s game will tip off at 6 p.m. PT at the Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.