Story by Jeff Metcalfe
Second-ranked Stanford began Sunday with the prospect of moving closer in the national polls to unanimous No. 1 South Carolina should the Gamecocks lose to fifth-ranked Connecticut.
Instead, it was the Cardinal who faltered, losing 72-67 at unranked Washington and dropping into a first-place tie in the Pac-12 race with Utah, which is now on a league-best five-game win streak.
The Pac-12’s regular-season champion will have at least two losses. There hasn’t been a three-loss champion since 2006, but’s certainly possible given the parity — and that Stanford and Utah meet for a second time Feb. 25 in Salt Lake City.
Coming off a 33-point victory Friday at Washington State, the Cardinal seemed positioned for a sixth consecutive win despite Washington’s improvement.
“I guess we left our defense in Pullman,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We need to take it personally.”
That never really occurred. The Cardinal led 59-53 early in the fourth quarter, but Washington went back ahead for good with 1:40 remaining — unlike the 2022 regular-season finale, when Stanford pulled away in the closing seconds to avert a loss.
Stanford’s Brooke Demetre, who scored all 15 of her points on 3-pointers, missed a potential game-tying shot with 20 seconds left. From there, the Huskies hit four clinching free throws.
The Cardinal also lost at unranked USC on Jan. 15.
“I just think this is a really unselfish team,” Washington coach Tina Langley said. “I love the way we play together and share the basketball.”
Husky freshman Elle Ladine scored a season-high 10 points Friday against Cal, then, with Hannah Stines out due to injury, more than doubled that against the Cardinal for a game-high 21. (She scored 10 in the fourth quarter alone.) Ladine is from San Francisco, making Washington’s first since over Stanford since 2016 even more special.
Dalayah Daniels, who also has Bay Area ties as a transfer from Cal, scored 15 points, and Haley Van Dyke produced a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.
“We had to come out here defensively and just fight,” Daniels said. “The most disciplined team is going to win at the end of the day, and that’s what we did.”
Utah hits 100 for third time
The Utes knew Stanford had lost while they were on the court at Oregon, elevating the urgency to complete a second straight weekend sweep.
They accomplished the mission with their third 100-point game of the season, one courtesy of 62.3 percent shooting, including 13-of-25 from 3-point range.
Oregon played much better than it did during a 10-point loss Friday to Colorado, when the Ducks were 0-of-16 from 3- point range, and Endyia Rogers did her share with a career-high 35 points.
But Utah’s Alissa Pili almost matched Rogers with a season-high 30, bumping her league-leading scoring average to 20.9 points per game. She also had seven rebounds and six assists.
On Friday, the Utes needed overtime to beat Oregon State 75-73. Pili had 23 points, including two clinching free throws with 19 seconds left in the extra period.
Utah’s road sweep of the Oregon schools is a first, and its 20-2 overall record is tied for the best in school history through 22 games.
Arizona wins twice in overtime
No. 22 Arizona and Colorado also went 2-0 last week, although the Wildcats needed overtime in both games to get past No. 14 UCLA (71-66) and USC (81-75, in double OT).
Colorado swept its opponents more comfortably and is only one game behind Stanford and Utah with a 9-3 Pac-12 record.
Arizona’s Cate Reese had a career-high 33 points against USC, making four clinching free throws in the closing seconds.
Against UCLA, the Wildcats trailed by 11 points with 4:59 left, then shut the Bruins out for the remainder of regulation and pulled even on Lauren Fields’ 3-pointer. In overtime, on coach Adia Barnes’ 46th birthday, Arizona’s Shaina Pellington scored six of her game-high 21 points.
It was Arizona’s first sweep in Los Angeles since 2002.
For Colorado, Quay Miller grabbed 29 rebounds against the Oregon schools and added 15 points against the Beavers. Neither of CU’s opponents reached 60 points.
“Everybody knows it’s hard to win on the road for a lot of reasons,” Buffaloes coach JR Payne said. “To do that Friday was awesome. We were so excited, and then we quickly just emotionally reset. Our team just locked in and said we’re defending and we’re going to guard you and we did a great job of that.”
Stanford’s Haley Jones joins podcast universe
Stanford All-America guard Haley Jones is two episodes into her new podcast, “Sometimes I Hoop”, featuring interviews with other college players.
She’s chatted so far with South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston and Tennessee’s Jordan Horston; the conversations include a vibe-check segment near the end that can go pretty much anywhere.
“What is your go-to trash talk line in a game?” Jones asked Horston, who gave a PG-rated version. “I’ll be like Gerber (as in baby),” Jones said. “That’s mine. That’s kind of been passed down through the Stanford ranks.”
Jones was offered a chance to do the podcast through ‘The Players’ Tribune,’ a website where athletes can speak directly to their fans. Her podcast can be found there, in addition to other podcast platforms.
“It’s really fun,” Jones said. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. I’m usually on the other side of things, so it’s cool to be the one prepping and making the conversation flow. You don’t want it to feel like an interview.
“I have to remind myself that the listeners don’t know all the things that I know, so questions that may sound repetitive to me are interesting to listeners.
“It’s trial and error, but each episode gets smoother and smoother. Interviewing my friends and getting their thoughts on things we may not have talked about is always interesting.”
Jones calls herself a “crime junkie” podcast lover and also has drawn ideas from: the “Tea with A & Phee” podcast featuring WNBA players A’ja Wilson and Napheesa Collier; the “New Heights” podcast with Super Bowl-bound brothers Jason and Travis Kelce; and “Knuckleheads,” with NBA veterans Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
“I want to get into broadcasting at some point in my career,” said Jones, projected as a high first-round WNBA draft pick. “This is kind of a great leeway into that space of being on the other side of things. It’s a great start into that path.”
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