No. 5/4 Stanford Cardinal (26-2, 15-1 Pac-12)
- vs. -
Washington Huskies (16-11, 9-7 Pac-12)
Thursday, February 27, 2014 – 8 p.m. PT
Maples Pavilion (7,233) – Stanford, Calif.
Series History: Stanford leads 43-15
Last Meeting: Feb. 9, 2014 (Washington 87, Stanford 82) – Seattle, Wash.
TV: Pac-12 Network (P-x-P: Krista Blunk, Analyst: Mary Murphy)
Webcast: Pac-12 Online (http://www.pac-12.com/live)
Radio: 90.1 KZSU
STANFORD, Calif. - Just because its 14th straight Pac-12 title and the top seed at the Pac-12 Tournament are sewn up doesn’t mean No. 5/4 Stanford will coast on the regular season’s final weekend. The Cardinal has some unfinished business to settle Thursday night at 8 p.m. against Washington, the only team to beat it in Pac-12 play. Thursday’s contest will air live on Pac-12 Network with Krista Blunk and Mary Murphy on the call, and the game can also be heard on 90.1 KZSU.
Last Time Out
The Cardinal clinched outright its 14th straight Pac-12 title and 23rd in 28 years with Sunday afternoon’s 65-56 victory at UCLA. Chiney Ogwumike posted her 20th double-double of the season with 26 points and 15 rebounds, while fellow forward Mikaela Ruef scored seven points with 11 rebounds as the seniors controlled the paint and the boards. The Cardinal trailed by five late in the first half but finished the opening 20 minutes on an 11-2 run and never relinquished the advantage. Stanford also claimed its 18th straight win over UCLA with the decision.
Washington (16-11, 9-7 Pac-12) has won six of its past eight heading into Thursday’s return bout with the Cardinal, and had its four-game winning streak snapped Sunday in a 77-57 loss to Oregon State. The Huskies, with Mike Neighbors in his first year at the helm, are led by the play of freshman sensation Kelsey Plum (20.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg) along with All-Pac-12 guard and San Jose native Jazmine Davis (19.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
All-Time Against Washington
Stanford leads the all-time series against Washington, 43-15, but the Huskies captured the most recent meeting with an 87-82 victory in Seattle on February 9. It was Washington’s first win over the Cardinal since a 77-72 decision back on Dec. 22, 2005, and snapped Stanford’s 14-game winning streak over the Huskies.
In The National Rankings
Stanford moved up a spot to No. 5 in the Associated Press Poll and up one to No. 4 in the USA Today Sports Coaches’ Poll this week following last weekend’s sweep of Arizona State and Arizona.
In The Pac-12 Stat Rankings
Through February 23 Stanford ranks in the top three of 12 categories: scoring defense (59.8 - first), scoring margin (+18.1 - first), rebounding margin (+8.4 - first), field-goal percentage (48.2 - first), 3-point field-goal percentage (38.6 - first), field-goal percentage defense (34.9 - first), assists (18.43 apg - first), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.46 - first), scoring offense (77.8 - second), rebounding defense (34.6 - second), 3-point field-goal defense (29.6 - third) and defensive rebounding (30.3 drpg - third). Individually, Chiney Ogwumike leads the Pac-12 in scoring (26.5 ppg) and field-goal percentage (62.3), and is second in rebounding (12.1 rpg) and blocked shots (1.82 bpg). Mikaela Ruef is fifth in rebounding (9.4 rpg), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.72), and 12th in assists (3.07 apg), tops among all Pac-12 posts in the latter two categories. Amber Orrange leads the loop in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.00) and is second in assists (4.71 apg). Lili Thompson (44.3) leads the Pac-12 in 3-point field-goal percentage while Bonnie Samuelson (41.3) is fourth and Karlie Samuelson (38.2) is eighth.
In The National Stat Rankings
Through February 23 Stanford ranked in the top 20 of seven categories: assist-to-turnover ratio (1.46 - fourth), field-goal percentage (48.2 - sixth), 3-point field-goal percentage (38.6 - seventh), assists (18.43 - eighth), field-goal percentage defense (34.9 - 10th), scoring margin (+18.1 - 11th), and turnovers per game (12.6 - 17th),. Individually, Chiney Ogwumike is the only player to rank in the national top 10 in field-goal percentage (62.3 - third), scoring (26.5 ppg - third), and rebounding (12.1 rpg - eighth), and double-doubles (20 - eighth). Amber Orrange’s 3.00 assist-to-turnover ratio is 10th in the country.
Stanford Clinches 14th Straight Pac-12 Title, Top Seed At Pac-12 Tournament
Sunday’s 65-56 win at UCLA clinched for Stanford the outright Pac-12 regular-season title, the Cardinal’s 14th in a row and 23rd overall. Stanford had locked up a share of the title as well as the top seed at the Pac-12 Tournament, set for March 6-9 at KeyArena in Seattle, with Friday’s 64-59 come-from-behind victory at USC. The Cardinal has now won outright or shared the Pac-12 title 23 times out of a possible 28, and as the conference tournament’s top seed now has a bye into the tournament’s quarterfinals, where on Friday, March 7 it will meet the winner of next Thursday’s (March 6) No. 8 vs. No. 9 first-round game.
Time For The Receipt
Thursday’s meeting between Stanford and Washington has been highly anticipated since the Huskies dealt the Cardinal just its second Pac-12 loss in five years with an 87-82 win on February 9. The loss also snapped a pair of big streaks for the Cardinal, as Stanford had won 166 straight games against non-ranked opponents as well as 62 in a row against Pac-12 foes away from Maples Pavilion prior to the loss in Seattle. En route to winning its first game against Stanford since Dec. 22, 2005, Washington had five players score in double figures, led by freshman Kelsey Plum’s 23 points. That accomplishment by the Huskies marked the first time that a Cardinal opponent had five players scoring in double figures since Baylor achieved the feat in an 81-65 win in Waco on Nov. 16, 2008.
One thing to assuage Cardinal fans heading into Thursday’s rematch against Washington is that Stanford has a good history of quickly avenging its losses. Entering Thursday’s game, only one team in the country, Connecticut, with three straight wins over the Cardinal, currently has a winning streak of at least two games against Stanford in which both wins have come since Tara VanDerveer took over the Cardinal in 1985-86. Stanford has not lost consecutive meetings with a conference foe since UCLA captured back-to-back games against the Cardinal on January 27 and March 6, 2006, the latter win coming in the Pac-10 Tournament title game in San Jose.
The Comeback Cardinal
Stanford came back from first-half deficits in both games last weekend, but Friday at USC the Cardinal outdid itself with a comeback from a 19-point deficit that tied for ninth-best comeback in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history. The last time Stanford overcame a 19-point hole was in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Nov. 25, 2007. That day, Stanford trailed Temple by 19 late in the first half, but on the strength of a 43-15 run to end the game, turned around a 39-20 score into a 63-54 win. Back on January 15, 2000, the Cardinal overcame a 26-point hole against Oregon, turning a 36-10 deficit into a 78-62 victory at Maples Pavilion.
Last Friday, the Cardinal trailed the Trojans 32-13 with 6:08 left in the first half, then proceeded to outscore USC 51-27 the rest of the way. Stanford went on a 17-5 run to end the first half, trimming the USC lead to seven at 37-30 at halftime, then took the lead for good at 45-43 with 11:07 to go in the game.
Chiney Ogwumike Against The Top-25
February 14’s 61-35 win over Arizona State improved Stanford’s record against Top-25 teams this season to 8-1. Over those nine games, Stanford’s received great performances from numerous players, most notably national player of the year candidate Chiney Ogwumike, the only player in the country to rank in the national Top 10 in scoring (27.2 ppg - third), rebounding (12.3 rpg - eighth), field-goal percentage (63.2 - second), and double-doubles (18 - sixth) through Feb. 9. Over nine games against Top-25 teams this year, Ogwumike is averaging 25.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and shooting 59.4 percent with 14 blocked shots.
More Recognition For Ogwumike, Orrange
Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike and junior point guard Amber Orrange were recognized separately this week for their strong performances on the court as of late. Ogwumike was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the eighth time this season while Orrange was named one of 22 finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard. Ogwumike averaged 26.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.00 blocks over Stanford’s wins at USC and UCLA, which included Stanford making up a 19-point deficit Friday night at USC to defeat the Trojans, 64-59. Orrange leads the team with a 3.00 assist-to-turnover ratio and 4.71 assists per game. Her assist-to-turnover ratio ranked third in the country through the most recent national statistical update (Feb. 20), and leads the Pac-12 while she is second in the conference in assists per game.
Leadership Carries The Cardinal
One big factor in Stanford being able to bounce back from early deficits in Los Angeles last weekend was its leadership core of Chiney Ogwumike, Mikaela Ruef and Amber Orrange. Ogwumike averaged 26.5 points and 11.0 rebounds over the two wins, while Ruef provided the grit and emotion that’s led to her career year in 2013-14. Ruef averaged 6.5 points and 9.5 rebounds, including 11 boards Sunday at UCLA, and ably defended top opposing posts in USC’s Cassie Harberts (5-for-16, 12 points Friday) and UCLA’s Corinne Costa (3-for-8, eight points) over the weekend. Orrange, in running the Cardinal point, averaged 11.0 points over the weekend while passing out 4.00 assists and shooting 56.3 percent from the field.
Stepping Up Into Bigger Roles
Two Cardinal players, junior forward Bonnie Samuelson and freshman guard Briana Roberson, were rewarded for their recent run of strong play Sunday as each player made her first collegiate start at UCLA. Samuelson, averaging 6.0 points with a team-leading 38 3-pointers this year, scored 14 points off the bench and went 8-for-8 from the line in Friday’s comeback win at USC, while Roberson, who missed much of the first three months of the season with a hamstring injury, scored seven points and was perfect from the field over 17 minutes Friday. Sunday, each player took advantage of their starting opportunity, as Samuelson scored seven points and held UCLA’s leading scorer, Atonye Nyingifa to just seven points on 1-for-10 shooting, and Roberson scored five points in 2-for-2 shooting.
Ogwumike On The Cusp Of The NCAA Rebounding Top 10
Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike became the Pac-12’s all-time leading rebounder back on Jan. 3, passing former Cardinal teammate Kayla Pedersen’s mark of 1,266. After grabbing seven rebounds in Friday’s win over USC, Ogwumike, with 1,444 career rebounds, passed Hawai’i’s Judy Mosley (1986-90), who grabbed 1,441 rebounds, for 11th place on the NCAA career-rebounding list. She is currently 11th all-time with 1,459 rebounds, and second among active players behind Robert Morris’ Artemis Spanou (1,479 through February 23) who at the time was 10th on the NCAA list.
Since the advent of Pac-12 women’s basketball in 1986-87, Stanford has been far and away the class of the conference in terms of victories and end-of-season awards and honors. With February 23’s win at UCLA clinching outright the 2013-14 Pac-12 title for Stanford, the Cardinal has now won outright or shared the regular-season title 23 times out of a possible 28, while the next team on the list, Washington, has won the conference title just three times. Stanford has also dominated the Pac-12 Tournament, capturing 10 of the 12 tournament titles since the inaugural draw in 2002. From Jan. 22, 2009 to Jan. 8, 2013 Stanford won a record 81 straight games against its Pac-12 foes (including Pac-10 and Pac-12 Tournament contests). Through Feb. 23, 2014, the team’s 782-141 (.847) overall mark since 1986-87 and 442-60 (.881) mark in Pac-12 play are both by far the top marks in the conference.
On the awards and honors side of things, the Cardinal again out-paces its opponents. Following the announcement of the 2013 Pac-12 honors, a Stanford player has won or shared the conference’s Player of the Year award 17 of 27 times since 1986-87, won the Freshman of the Year award eight times, Defender of the Year award thrice and head coach Tara VanDerveer has been honored as the conference’s Coach of the Year on 13 occasions, with current associate head coach Amy Tucker and Marianne Stanley sharing the honor in 1995-96 while VanDerveer was on sabbatical coaching the U.S. Olympic Team.
Stanford players have captured a conference-best 93 Pac-10/Pac-12 Player of the Week honors through Feb. 24, 2013. Finally, the Cardinal leads the conference with 61 All-Pac-10/All-Pac-12 first-team selections.