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Ionescu’s Court: Can the Cardinal beat the Ducks?

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Another Stanford-Oregon matchup that decides the fate of the PAC-12!

NCAA Womens Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Oregon vs Stanford Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Today, at 1 PM on ESPN2, the Stanford Cardinal will attempt to dethrone the reigning Queens of PAC-12 basketball.

Can the Cardinal take down the Ducks? All rise! Ionescu’s court is in session.

SEASON THUS FAR

RECORD: 19-3, 9-2

BEST WINS: #1 Baylor, @ Tennessee, @ #20 Arizona State, #7 Oregon State

WORST LOSS: @ California

COMMON OPPONENTS: Buffalo, every other PAC-12 team besides Oregon State

LAST 5 GAMES:

  • W (1/25) Colorado, 80-69
  • L (1/27) #21 Utah, 68-75
  • L (1/31) California, 80-81
  • W (2/2) California, 75-50
  • W (2/8) #7 Oregon State, 61-44

SUMMARY: The #11 Stanford Cardinal has built one of the best resumes in the PAC-12. Senior Alanna Smith has led a team that is second only to the Ducks in points per game and three-pointers made in conference play. Now that they’re coming off of a victory over Oregon State, the Cardinal has drastically increased their chances at stealing the conference title from the Ducks.

Stanford’s first loss of the season, a 73-79 defeat against Gonzaga, has aged like a fine wine as the Zags are now ranked 13th in the nation. The Cardinal made up for the loss by handing #1 Baylor their lone loss of the season, then defeating the Lady Volunteers in Knoxville.

A seven-point loss to #17 Utah in Salt Lake City was disappointing but certainly understandable, but an 80-to-81 defeat in Berkeley seemed like a huge letdown. If Stanford had managed to defend Asha Thomas’s left-handed layup at the buzzer, the Duck-Cardinal game would have even higher stakes, similar to last year’s showdown when the top spot in the PAC-12 was on the line.

However, Stanford proved they weren’t ready to call it quits in the conference race by defeating Cal a couple days after their defeat, and then by shutting down the Beaver’s offense in a 61-44 victory.

CONFERENCE COMPARISON*

  • CARDINAL score 77.1 PPG
  • DUCKS allow 61.5
  • CARDINAL shoot 44.4% from the floor
  • DUCKS allow 38.7%
  • CARDINAL shoot 33.8% from three
  • DUCKS allow 32.7%
  • CARDINAL average 40.5 rebounds
  • DUCKS allow 30.8
  • CARDINAL allow 63.1 PPG
  • DUCKS score 87.8
  • CARDINAL allow 36.4% from the floor
  • DUCKS shoot 51.7%
  • CARDINAL allow 31.5% from three
  • DUCKS shoot 44.8%
  • CARDINAL allow 38.0 rebounds
  • DUCKS average 37.7
  • CARDINAL average 14.8 assists/ 11.5 turnovers

(*all stats are from conference play)

PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

Alanna Smith

6’4, Forward, Senior

Stanford’s Aussie sensation has led this team for the past couple of seasons. This year, she’s averaging 20.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. The senior hits .538% from the floor and is having her best season yet from three-point land, averaging .444%.

Last season, Senior Brittany McPhee scored 33 points to win Stanford’s lone regular season contest against Oregon - a victory that momentarily pushed the Cardinal past the Ducks for control of the PAC-12. Now that McPhee is gone, Smith will need to turn in a similarly dominating performance if they want a chance at catching up to Oregon in the standings.

Kiana Williams

5’8, Guard, Sophomore

There may not be a player good enough to single-handedly carry a team to victory over these mighty Ducks. That is why freshman Kiana Williams will serve such an important role this Sunday. She leads the Cardinal in assists per game with 4.9 and is also scoring 14.8 PPG. Stanford will need a complete team effort if they hope to challenge the Ducks, even at home.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Lexington Regional - Louisville vs Stanford Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports


IONESCU’S VERDICT

The Cardinal are 9 -1 in their last ten games against top five competition at home. They’ve also proven that they’re not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the Ducks. And unlike Oregon’s earlier big-games against Syracuse, Mississippi State, Arizona State and Utah, Oregon will be away from home.

If Oregon wishes to remain undefeated in PAC-12 play, they’ll need to have most of their starters score in double-digits while keeping Stanford honest by hitting regular triples - a feat this “journalist” believes they’ll accomplish.

THREAT LEVEL

13 out of 16 triple-doubles

SCORE PREDICTION

Ducks 82 - Cardinal 71