Stanford (3-0, 13-1) should be heavily favored in the contest, but this won't be some fast break in the wilderness. Washington (3-1, 8-6) and Oregon (3-0, 12-3) are on the fast track to being among the most-improved teams in the nation.
Senior Sami Whitcomb leads the rejuvenated Huskies (who already have matched their win totals form last year) with 14 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game. She's also the most accurate free throw shooter in the Pac-10 with a 91.7 percent success rate.
After losing to Oregon, the Huskies are on a three-game winning streak entering their game at California on Thursday night.
Stanford had won four in a row heading into its Thursday game against Washington State, and last weekend received a wake-up call for the Cardinal after barely escaping with a 65-61 win over host UCLA on Sunday. Senior guard Roz Gold-Onwude scored 18 points and made two free throws in the final seconds for the winning margin.
The Cardinal beat USC, 82-62, before its encounter with the Bruins, which resulted in the second fewest points of the season.
"We learned that we have a lot of competition in the Pac-10," Stanford guard Jeanette Pohlen said after the UCLA contest.
Entering the third week of the conference season, Stanford and Oregon share the top spot while USC, UCLA and Washington are within a half-game.
Stanford sophomore Nnemkadi Ogwumike leads the team with her 19.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Junior forward Kayla Pedersen is at 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds while senior Jayne Appel averages 13.1 points and 9.4 rebounds.
The Cardinal owns a seven-game winning streak over Washington and has beaten the Huskies 10 in a row at Maples Pavilion
Just as Stanford was left for dead at the beginning of the season, so too was Jeremy Green and his apparent legal problems.
Sorry, but the reports of Stanford's and Green's demise have been exaggerated. You don't hear much these days about the loss of highly-regarded freshman Andy Brown to an ACL injury, or junior Josh Owens' medical bout that has left his future in doubt.
The incident that required a police report to be filed on Green seems so far in the past that it may as well have happened in another lifetime.
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins has his team looking ahead, and his post players -- despite losing the 6-8 Brown and 6-8 Owens — are beginning to do more than fill space on the court.
The Cardinal continues conference play Saturday with a 2 p.m. game at Washington State. Green, who returned to the team after serving a suspension, seems to have more difficulty staying out of the training room than anything else.
"He had a major setback but he's been able to focus and grow from the experience," Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins said on Tuesday. "Those are the kinds of situations where you learn a lot and determine what is important to you. For Jeremy, that's school and athletics."
Green scored a career-high 30 points in Stanford's 70-59 victory over UCLA at Maples Pavilion on Saturday. He added 17 in last Wednesday's 54-53 win over USC.
After averaging 16.2 points through his first 12 games, Green has exploded in Pac-10 play, scoring at a 23.3 pace in helping the Cardinal (2-1, 8-7) to a share of first place entering Thursday's game at Washington. And that's with a sore right wrist and pulled muscle under his rib cage.
The wrist injury occurred during Stanford's 70-62 loss at Northwestern last Dec. 19. The sore ribs were courtesy of a poke from someone during a rebounding tussle against USC last Wednesday.
"He has battled a lot of injuries and got off to a slow start," Dawkins said. "But he stayed with it and has been able to continue to get better."
Landry Fields, the Cardinal's overall scoring (22.3) and rebounding (8.9) leader, has seen his field-goal percentage drop to .464 after shooting below 40 percent over the first three conference contests.
Fields had a solid second half against the Bruins, though, and he could be coming out of his slump.
"Landry has carried a load for us and taken on that responsibility," Dawkins said. "It's good to see other guys emerge and contribute. I'd still like to see more guys get involved. The more games we've had under our belts, the better our bigger guys have been playing."
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