The nationally No. 16-ranked Stanford women's basketball team resides in unfamiliar territory in the Pac-12 as its 5-3 conference record is only good enough for fifth place, a game behind co-third place No. 20 UCLA and No. 25 Washington.
The Huskies (15-4, 6-2) come to town Friday for an 8 p.m. tip-off that looms large for the Cardinal (15-5 overall) in terms of national ranking, the conference standings and seeding for the conference tournament.
Washington returned to the top 25 this week following a 13-year hiatus, coincidentally the last time Stanford was without a senior starter. Huskies' junior Kelsey Plum, the nation's leading scorer, needs 26 points for 2,000.
The Cardinal needs a victory for several reasons, including a chance to erase Sunday's 56-36 loss to the Bruins in which Stanford shot 20.4 percent from the field, its worst percentage in over four years.
Stanford's three losses are to the three other teams ahead of it in the standings: Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA. The Cardinal gets an opportunity, at home, to reverse things against the Sun Devils and Beavers but only gets one chance against the Bruins and Huskies. Stanford needs to hold a tiebreaker against Washington for a chance at one of the top three seeds for the conference tournament.
The Cardinal has won three straight from the Huskies and 17 of the past 18. Washington's last win in Maples Pavilion was in 1999.
If Stanford, which ranks second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.322), wants to make a run toward the top of the Pac-12, this is the time to get started, with seven of its remaining 10 conference regular-season games at home.
Stanford has won its past six straight at home and seven of eight overall, its lone loss to Santa Clara in late November.
Erica McCall, who averages 12.9 points and 9.6 rebounds, ranks 14th nationally with 11 double-doubles and Karlie Samuelson ranks 11th in 3-point field goal percentage (.451). She's made 13 of her past 22 3-point attempts.