Stanford’s persistence prevails
LOS ANGELES — After having their 16-game home winning streak snapped by UCLA on Friday night, Stanford bounced back with a dominant win against USC on Sunday afternoon. A new winning streak could be on the horizon for Stanford as they were able to hold off a spunky group of young Trojans in Maples Pavilion with their win on Senior Night.
The Bruins came to town and knocked the Cardinal off balance for a game but Stanford managed to avoid back-to-back conferences losses, as the Cardinal have all season.
A streak comes to a close
Led by Michaela Oyenwere and her double-double, the Bruins notched Cori Close’s 100th Pac-12 win in their victory over the Cardinal. In turn, Stanford’s home-winning streak of 16 games came to an end.
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Stanford has been a commanding team at Maples Pavilion with the Cardinal faithful on their side. Even in this season, the Cardinal had not lost at home until Friday’s loss.
“It was disappointing,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer about the team’s overall performance.
It was not the best showing for Stanford as a unit with ball movement and shot-making despite helpful performances from Kiana Williams, Lacie Hull, and Ashten Prechtel. Despite the late-game effort by Williams, UCLA was able to close the game at the free-throw line to solidify their win.
Stanford has been without veteran players like senior DiJonai Carrington and Maya Jones, along with freshman Haley Jones, for this season due to injury but have been able to maintain a presence on the floor with their depth. As Pac-12 play has been heating up, the competition down the line will test this team just like UCLA did on Friday.
“This is a different level of competition — We’re just going to need more people to step up for us because we don’t have those other people,” VanDerveer said.
Vanderveer does not want to have one player take the brunt of the workload for the team, so as a unit, others have to step up to keep the team afloat in-game with effort. Given Stanford’s track record this season, the team has been able to bounce back from their losses then go on a tear.
Young Trojans fight but fall
USC leaves the Bay Area 1-1 with this loss to Stanford. They defeated Cal by 8 but got decimated by Stanford in a 20-point loss. This is USC’s third loss in their last four games after winning three straight games.
The Trojans young squad has shown promise this season but have fallen short at times. Going to a triple-overtime against Arizona State showed that USC can go toe to toe with opponents when everyone is clicking. They were able to do so in their win against Cal Berkeley on Friday evening with Angel Jackson leading the way in that game.
USC kept trying to cut into the Cardinal lead in the second half, even while outscoring them 30-38, but the Cardinal were pushing forward on their lead. Freshman forward Alissa Pili, who recently notched her second freshman of the week honor, did her part to keep the Trojans in the fray. Pili’s development and play this season with USC are nonstop and will continue to tread up throughout her collegiate career.
The Cardinal have won 10 straight games against the Trojans and improved their all-time record against them to 63-20.
Stanford Senior Night
Stanford set their senior night game for this matchup against USC and the team made the most out of the afternoon by honoring their seniors after the game. Emotions were high for the team with them wanting to bounce back from the loss to UCLA and celebrating their senior players. VanDerveer noted postgame that as this is a close-knit team, they wanted to play well for the seniors.
“I’m glad we played well today for the senior sendoff. It was a nice sendoff for them,” said VanDerveer.
Senior forward Nadia Fingall along with senior guards Anna Wilson and Mikaela Brewer saw time on the floor in good minutes. Fingall filled the stat sheet against USC as the second-leading scorer for the Cardinal with 11 points, 4 blocks, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Off the bench, Wilson had 8 points on 2-3 shooting from the field. Brewer played for two minutes in her third game back from injury. Senior DiJonai Carrington has not played since November 24.
These seniors have made the most of their time in their collegiate careers up to now and look forward to supporting their team in their quest to close out a tight Pac-12 title race. Stanford improved their record to 21-3 on the season while sitting in second place of the Pac-12 standings behind Oregon.
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