By Sofia Scekic
No. 5 Stanford (18-2, 15-2 Pac-12) will face perhaps its toughest test of the season as it plays its final road game against No. 11 Oregon (12-4, 9-4 Pac-12) on Monday in Eugene.
The Cardinal squeaked past Oregon on Jan. 8 in Santa Cruz with a 70-63 win in what was Stanford’s “home” game of this season’s duet of matchups against the Ducks. However, the team played a sloppy game, turning the ball over 17 times. Junior guard Lexie Hull, sophomore guard Hannah Jump and senior forward Alyssa Jerome all missed that matchup due to COVID-19 contract tracing protocols. In their absence, senior guard Anna Wilson had one of her better games this season, scoring 11 points, shooting 3-4 from behind the arc and turning the ball over just once in 33 minutes of playing time. Senior guard Kiana Williams, who played a team-high 34 minutes, turned the ball over a team-high six times and shot just 3-13 from the field, including 0-6 from three.
The Ducks played a strong game though the first 20 minutes, becoming the first team to lead the then-No. 1 Cardinal at the half with a 33-32 lead despite shooting just 4-14 from the field in the second quarter. The Cardinal outscored Oregon 28-14 in the third quarter and the Ducks were not able to mount a comeback from there. Four Ducks scored in double figures, with freshman Sydney Parrish coming off the bench to lead the team with 14 points in 13 minutes. Her presence was also felt on defense, where she notched a team-high three steals.
Since the teams’ first matchup five weeks ago, Stanford has lost twice while Oregon has played just six games due to numerous COVID-19 related postponements. The Ducks are coming off a 79-59 loss to No. 10 Arizona, a team that Stanford demolished 81-54 on Jan. 1. Oregon is still one of the best defensive teams in the country, giving up 57.5 points per game, but has cooled down offensively since the beginning of the calendar year.
With a 5-4 record since Jan. 1, the team has shot 42.4% from the floor and only 29.1% from behind the arc in its past nine games. Still, the Ducks take care of the ball well and lead the Pac-12 with a 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio. Redshirt sophomore Sedona Prince is hot on offense after scoring in double figures for four straight games, and the team has good depth, bolstered by a freshman class that has combined for 419 points through 16 games. Despite the team’s recent struggles, it would be wrong to expect head coach Kelly Graves’s team to fold easily against the Cardinal.
On Stanford’s side, Williams seems to have found her groove on offense: she has scored 16 or more points in six of the team’s last eight games, and her last single-figure scoring game came nearly a month ago in the Cardinal’s first loss of the season to Colorado. After scoring 16 points against Oregon State on Friday, she passed Jennifer Azzi ’90 for 12th place on Stanford’s career points list. With at least five points on Monday, Williams will pass Trisha Stevens Lamb ’91 for 11th in career points.
While Williams’ shooting has been heating up, Hull has been struggling to sink her shots recently, scoring more than eight points once in her last five games. She has shot .200, .333 and .000 from the field in the prior three games and, normally a reliable three-point shooter, has made just five of her last 14 from behind the three-point line.
Stanford is finding contributions on a game-by-game basis from players further down in the rotation, a good sign in a year where the pandemic makes players’ game day availability uncertain until day-of COVID-19 testing is complete. Jump is earning more minutes as the season continues and has made the most out of those opportunities, scoring 11 points or more in two of her last four games while continuing to develop on defense. Jerome, who has started 26 games in her career, scored a career-high 14 points in 18 minutes against Oregon State and freshman guard Jana Van Gytenbeek played a career-high 27 minutes against Utah on Feb. 7 and scored in double figures for the first time in her young career.
After losing all three matchups against the Ducks during the 2019-20 season, the Cardinal will look to win consecutive games against Oregon for the first time since winning six straight from Jan. 15, 2016 to Feb. 4, 2018.
Tip is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. PT and the game will be streamed on ESPN2.