If the women's basketball team could have spotted the men a bucket, Stanford (25-2, 16-1) would have obliged in a heartbeat. The Cardinal had more than a few buckets to spare on Thursday night, rolling to a 76-45 victory over the Oregon Ducks in the seniors' penultimate game at Maples Pavilion.
The game started off competitively, as Oregon effectively moved the ball off picks to create open looks and trailed by only three, 16-13, nine minutes into the ballgame. However, Oregon would not score their next thirteen points for another 22 minutes as Stanford pulled off a 46-7 run spanning from nine minutes into first half all the way to nine minutes into the second. In the midst of this epic scoring spurt, a streak which increased Stanford's margin to 66-20, the Cardinal pulled off runs of 22-0 and 31-2. This offensive explosion and defensive prowess came against a Duck team entering the night in sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 and as winners of six of their last seven. Oregon actually managed to recoup 14 points in garbage time, making the 76-45 margin much closer than the game actually played out.
Even in a contest more one-sided than the final numbers would indicate, the game's statistics still show the Cardinal thoroughly dominating their overmatched opponent. Stanford shot 62.5% on the game while holding the Ducks to 35.3% accuracy, and the Card outshot the Ducks 68% to 29% in the first half. Stanford out-rebounded the Ducks 38 to 21, forced 13 turnovers to Oregon's six, and finished the game with a 1.33 assist-to-turnover ratio, nearly tripling the Ducks' mark of .47.
Another factor that helps explain the Stanford's control of the ballgame is the Card's defensive denials of Oregon's leading scorers. Forward Cathrine Kraayeveld and center Andrea Bill averaged a combined 26.2 points and 17.6 rebounds in the Pac-10 entering Thursday's contest. At Maples however, the post players combined for four turnovers, 13 points and only seven rebounds, as the duo did not factor heavily into the flow of the game on either end of the court. In fact, Kraayeveld did not score a single point, starkly contrasting with the teams' previous matchup this season, when the Kirkland, Wash. native led the pair to 34 points and 30 rebounds in Oregon's 62-58 upset of the Card. The improvement in defensive post play bodes well for the Stanford's NCAA Tournament prospects, as interior defense remained one of the few untested facets of Stanford's play previous to Thursday's tilt.
In light of all of these impressive performances, the fact that no one Cardinal played an especially impressive statistical night highlights the balance of head coach Tara VanDerveer's squad. Freshman guard Candice Wiggins and junior center Brooke Smith led all Cardinal scorers with only 13 points apiece, yet eight Cardinal managed at least seven points on the night. These eight players – Wiggins, Smith, senior forward T'Nae Thiel, senior guard Kelley Suminski, fifth-year senior guard Susan King Borchardt, senior forward Sebnem Kimyacioglu, sophomore center Kristen Newlin and senior forward Azella Perryman – combined for all the Cardinal's 76 points and nearly all of Stanford's other statistical production. Coach VanDerveer rotated these eight Cardinal remarkably evenly, as no player played fewer than 15 or more than 31 minutes. More than any other game thus far this season, Thursday's victory truly stands as a testament to the depth of this team.
Stanford's stellar performance this particular night was hardly an aberration, as the Card have absolutely blown through their 2005 campaign. On the year, Stanford has now won sixteen consecutive games by an average of 22.4 points, hardly a surprise considering the Cardinal have made more than they've missed in the calendar year, shooting 50.4% (467-of-927). The Cardinal have won 23 in a row and 55 of their last 58 at home. Stanford has also won 36 Pac-10 games in a row at Maples, with their last home conference loss coming nearly four years previous.
Expect the streaks to grow even gaudier on Saturday, as the Pac-10 cellar-dwelling Oregon State Beavers (6-21, 1-16) come calling. After a week hiatus following the Beaver game, the #1 seed Cardinal will begin play in the Pac-10 Tournament Saturday, March 5 at 5PM, most probably against the winner of a #8/#9 Cal/Washington State matchup the day previous.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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