Conventional wisdom would also not lead one to expect the fifth ranked team would be only marginally better, and fortunately, conventional wisdom wasn't reflected on the scoreboard at the end of Wednesday's women's basketball game as Oregon upended the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal 62-58 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 4.651.
Senior post players Andrea Bills and Catherine Kraayeveld led the way, each gleaning 15 balls off the boards and contributing 18 and 16 points respectively.
"Our shots weren't falling in the first half," Catherine Kraayeveld told goDucks.com. "But we knew that if we stayed smart and aggressive at the defensive end, and kept ourselves in the ball game, our shots would start falling and we could make a run at them."
After trailing by 14 in the first half – and not reaching double digits in scoring until nearly 13 minutes of the opening period had elapsed – the Ducks slowly narrowed the gap to five points, and found themselves still in the game at the break down by seven.
Stanford was able to expand that margin to 11 points five minutes into the second half before the Ducks started to assert themselves offensively.
Switching frequently between man-to-man defense and a 2-3 zone, Oregon was able to contest most of Stanford's shots and crashed the boards hard. The effort paid off as the Ducks cut that eleven-point margin to three with just under twelve minutes left to play.
Both teams traded buckets for the next 5 minutes, until Kaela Chapdelaine hit the first of two momentum changing three point baskets to draw the Ducks within one, 50-51 at the 6 minute mark. 30 seconds later, she hit the second trey to give the Ducks their first lead, 53-51. Stanford would tie at 53; then the Ducks gained the lead for good on two Chapdelaine free throws, followed by a very nice Corrie Mizusawa assist on a Catherine Kraayeveld lay-up.
Uneven free throw shooting down the stretch kept the margin closer than it might have been, but the Cardinal were never able to regain either their momentum or the lead.
Highly touted freshman guard Candice Wiggins led Stanford in scoring with 16 points. Senior forward T'Nae Thiel paced the Cardinal in rebounds with 12. Though able at times to demonstrate agility and polished ball movement, Stanford found scoring out of their motion offense to be inconsistent at best, and as the contest came down the stretch, Oregon's defense forced Stanford to shoot from the perimeter and mostly limited the Cardinal to only one shot.
With the partisan crowd filling Mac Court with stomping and cheering, Stanford was forced to take desperation three point attempts with their final four possessions, missing them all and culminating in a mosh pit of a celebration at center court by the Ducks as time ran out. The win gives Oregon their first victory over a top five team since 1983, when they upset then fifth ranked Maryland. The Ducks are now 9-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play while Stanford, also 9-2 overall, fell to 1-1 in the Pac-10.
While certainly a big win for the home team, it would be a relatively safe bet the visitors have the rematch already circled on their calendar.