Stanford thumped visiting California, 75-50, last weekend in response to losing consecutive conference road games. The victory relieved the angst of slipping out of the top 10 and no longer being able to control its own destiny but that is of little solace entering this weekend.
"It's exciting," Stanford junior DiJonai Carrington said. "We owe Oregon one. We had them in the Pac-12 tournament and let that one slip away. And we always want to defend our home court. We know we have the capability of beating both teams but we can't do it by ourselves."
Carrington meant that one player, not even if her name is Alanna Smith, will be able to carry the team single-highhandedly. Stanford needs every ace in the deck and the wild cards to fall its way.
Smith is, however, a great place to start. The senior forward from Australia continues to enjoy a wildly successful season.
She's shooting 53.6 percent from the field (163-of-304), 45.0 percent from behind the arc (54-of-120) and averaging a team-high 20.9 points per game to go with 8.1 rebounds.
Smith, who has double-doubles in six of her last 12 games, is the only player in the country averaging 20.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 blocks per game this season and one of five shooting 45 percent both overall and from deep.
Smith is on track to join Elena Delle Donne as the only players 6-foot-4 and taller over the past 20 years to shoot better than 40 percent from 3-point range for an entire season. Delle Donne made 41.3 percent as a freshman at Delaware in 2009-10 (NCAA minimum of two made 3-pointers per game).
Smith ranks 20th on the all-time scoring list (1,443) and is 10 points shy of Jeanette Pohlen, who ranks 17th. She's also three blocked shots short of 200 and five from matching Chiney Ogwumike for second on the all-time list.
Stanford has already played a pair of top 10 teams back-to-back and delivered victories over then No. 3 Baylor at home and at No. 9 Tennessee on the road.
Carrington scored 33 points and had 13 rebounds in the victory over the Lady Vols. She's averaging 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds over the past 13 games, which includes five double-doubles.
Sophomore point guard Kiana Williams is another key to the week. The sophomore is second on the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and four of her five 20-point games this season have come in conference.
"It's a new month. We're heading into tournament in February and March," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We want to keep improving."
Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford, in that order, are the top three scoring teams in the conference. The Ducks average 89.6 points, the Beavers score at an 80.1 pace and the Cardinal net 79.8 points.
Oregon State is second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, averaging 58 points allowed per contest.
"It's going to be a tough weekend," Stanford's Maya Dodson said. "If we play Stanford basketball, we can win."
Dodson returned to the lineup after missing a month to injury. Lexie Hull, who started the first three games, has also playing herself back into shape as Lacie Hill continues to get better.
Stanford is 9-1 in its past 10 games against top five opponents.
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