Sports

Oops, the Cardinal women do it again with a loss at Oregon

 

This year's Stanford women's basketball team occupies a unique position among odd facts and figures.

Name one team that has beaten both the top-ranked team in the nation and a power conference champion, and has lost to a pair of teams with a combined 23 wins between them in the same season.

There's only one: the Cardinal. Good enough to beat the best, yet capable of losing to two teams seeded 10th and 11th in the Pac-12 Conference tournament, which gets under way Thursday in Seattle.

Lili Thompson scored 14 points, Amber Orrange added 13 and five assists and Kaylee Johnson hauled in 11 rebounds, but No. 19 Stanford dropped its regular-season finale at Oregon, 62-55, Sunday.

Stanford (21-9, 13-5 Pac-12) had the third seed in the tournament wrapped up even before tip-off against the Ducks, who beat the Cardinal for the first time in over 10 years.

Oregon meets seventh-seeded Washington State, and would also have to get through No. 2 Arizona State before a rematch with the Cardinal is even possible.

Arizona, which beat Stanford earlier this year, is seeded No. 11 and meets No. 6 UCLA in Thursday's opening round. Should the Wildcats beat the Bruins, there would be a rematch with Stanford: at 2 p.m. Friday.

In hindsight, the roller coaster ride that has been Stanford's season should not come as a surprise. Chiney Ogwumike left a void in the All-American category when she left for the WNBA.

The Cardinal returned solid players in seniors Orrange, Bonnie Samuelson, Taylor Greenfield and Erica Payne but it also had to rely on sophomores and freshmen like Thompson, Karlie Samuelson, Briana Roberson, Erica McCall, Brittany McPhee and Kaylee Johnson.

Connecticut and Oregon State are a combined 54-4 and Stanford is 2-0 against them. Throw Washington and California into the mix and the Cardinal is 5-1 against teams with a combined 96-20 mark.

Oregon and Arizona are a combined 23-35 this season and Stanford is a combined 1-2 against them.

When the sophomores and freshmen were good, Stanford was very, very good. Thompson scored 24 points in the win over the Huskies. In fact, she scored at least 24 in four of the first five games she played.

She never did it again afterward, though she hit 21 in a win over USC and reached double figures in all but six games in which she played.

Johnson grabbed 22 rebounds in a game twice in her first eight games. She's reached 17 twice since and had 14 double-digit games. She also has five double-doubles, more than the rest of her teammates have accumulated combined.

Roberson has reached double figures eight times, McPhee has done so three times, McCall seven times and Karlie Samuelson six times.

It's just been a year of extreme peaks and valleys. Four different underclassmen have combined to score at least 20 points in a game eight times. The talent is evident but the consistency is not.

It should make for an interesting tournament. Stanford could win three straight and capture its 11th conference tournament title, or it could bow out in the first round.

Jillian Alleyne registered her NCAA-best 27th double-double of the year, scoring 22 points with 12 rebounds for Oregon.

Stanford held a 30-29 halftime lead but the Ducks went on a 15-2 run early in the second half to take control.

With Stanford up four, 38-34, and 16:23 on the clock, the Ducks' Katelyn Loper was fouled taking a 3-pointer (yes, by a freshman who learned something) and hit all three at the line to ignite the stretch.

The Cardinal was unable to respond, hitting 30 percent of its shots in the final 6:30. Stanford, which was 5-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half, dipped to 1-of-13 on shots from distance in the second.

The Ducks committed just five fouls all game and Johnson was the only Cardinal player to get to the line, going 1-of-2.

Orrange played her 140th game in a Cardinal uniform, just the eighth player in Stanford history to reach that number. She joined Kayla Pedersen (150), Jeanette Pohlen (150), Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (148), Jayne Appel (147), Chiney Ogwumike (145), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (145) and Joslyn Tinkle (142). Should the Cardinal play five more games this season, Bonnie Samuelson would join that group as well.

With 299 rebounds, Johnson is one short of joining Pedersen (329) as the only Stanford freshmen to pull down 300. Bonnie Samuelson hit two more 3-pointers and with 222 in her career is just three shy of the Pac-12's all-time top 10.

Stanford has a 35-3 all-time record through the first 13 years of the conference tournament and has never lost a quarterfinal game.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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