This upcoming weekend, the Cardinal will head north to face two teams heading south.
With a rematch against each Pac-10 team remaining on the regular season slate, Stanford stands alone atop the conference with a 7-1 record. The Card will travel northward this upcoming weekend with an excellent opportunity to grow two games closer to laying claim to a conference crown that the Cardinal have split or won outright for four years running.
7 PM Thursday brings a tip against a Washington team standing at 8-11 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-10. Despite dropping six of the last seven at home, Washington regularly averages among the best attendance in the Pac-10, and the Huskies and their fans will certainly be psyched to face a top-5 opponent in Stanford. In their previous meeting three weeks ago in Maples, the Card had their hands full with these Huskies before managing to pull away 74-61. Washington is lead by forward Kristen O'Neill, who averages 10 points per game and scored 16 against the Card in their first meeting. In that first matchup, Washington started three guards who combined for only 13 points, so Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer will hope for a similarly stingy perimeter defense Thursday night in Seattle.
After a long trek from Seattle to Pullman, Stanford will attempt to improve to 40-0 all-time against the hapless 4-14 Washington State Cougars. The game, Saturday at 2 PM, is a rematch of the 72-39 Stanford shellacking January 2 at Maples. While Washington State is 0-9 in the Pac-10 and has lost 11 in a row, they have remained competitive against some top conference opponents at home this season. The host Cougars lost to Arizona 51-54 and also dropped a two-point overtime heartbreaker to USC in Pullman, 75-77. With seven underclassmen and only two seniors on the roster, the team might be more of a threat in a couple of years. However, this Saturday, if Stanford shows the same intensity and focus fans are used to seeing, the Cardinal should have their way with the Cougars and be able to give the bench players crucial game experience. Hopefully Jessica Elway and Christy Tichenal are healthy enough to see playing time on Saturday, as they could play a prominent role against the Cougars.
After the Washington trek, Stanford will host the Arizona schools, visit California and the LA schools, and close out the regular season in Maples, against Oregon and Oregon State. As of today, Stanford leads the Pac-10 at 8-1; USC stands in second place at 7-2; and Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA tie for third, sporting 6-3 marks. The Cardinal are guaranteed the title outright if they win out, and can clinch at least a share of the title with only one more loss.
Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM. Daniel welcomes any feedback at email@example.com.
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