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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    No. 4 Stanford heads to Tucson on a roll

     

    Fourth-ranked Stanford has rolled through the Pac-10 basketball women’s conference, beating opponents by an average of 35.7 points.

    The scary thing? Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said her team hasn’t reached all of its goals in several games.

    The Cardinal (18-2, 9-0 Pac-10) is vying for its 11th consecutive Pac-10 title, and will face Arizona (13-7, 4-5) on Saturday in Tucson. The Cats open the second half of the Pac-10 schedule Thursday against Cal at McKale Center.

    “”For our team, in some ways, the score is not the most relevant thing,”” VanDerveer said Tuesday during the Pac-10 teleconference. “”We try to really look at what we’re doing, and we have a goal sheet we go over after every game, and there are a lot of goals we have not met in a lot of our games, whether it’s free-throw percentage or field goal percentage or being aggressive. So, we really try to challenge ourselves.””

    Stanford has won 12 consecutive games and snapped Connecticut’s NCAA-record 90-game winning streak since suffering its two losses at No. 9DePaul and at No. 5 Tennessee in mid-December. Senior forward Kayla Pedersen missed the DePaul game and was limited against the Lady Vols.

    VanDerveer calls Pedersen “”the rock of our team,”” praising her intelligence, work ethic and versatility.

    “”I’ll be crying my eyeballs out when she graduates,”” VanDerveer said.

    Stanford beat Arizona 87-54 on Jan. 6. Before the Cardinal faces the Cats on Saturday, it will take on Arizona State on Thursday in Tempe.

    “”We’re excited about going on the road,”” VanDerveer said. “”We like going into opponents’ gyms. We like the challenge of that.””

    Crashing the boards

    Arizona has endured “”some good spots and some bad spots”” during the first half of Pac-10 play, coach Niya Butts said. One positive is its 9-0 home record. One negative is its struggles in rebounding.

    Tenth-ranked UCLA out-rebounded Arizona 48-24 in the Bruins’ 70-60 victory Saturday. The Cats rank seventh in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin at negative-1.2. Teams in the upper half of the conference thrive at rebounding, Butts said.

    “”If you’re going to break into that half, you have got to make that a priority,”” Butts said. “”We’ve been emphasizing that. We’ve been focusing on that. We’ve got to do a better job of transitioning practice into game situations.””

    Cal, Arizona’s opponent Thursday, has been strong in rebounding and is second in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin at plus-9.5. The Bears beat Arizona80-60 on Jan.8 in Berkeley.

    Cal knows what to expect from Arizona’s up-tempo offense.

    “”It’s a very fast basketball game,”” Bears coach Joanne Boyle said. “”The biggest thing in what they’ve done a great job is creating a lot of their offense by scoring off forcing turnovers.””

    A little parity

    Outside of league-leader Stanford and second-place UCLA, seven teams are in the mix to finish in the top half of the Pac-10. Three teams, including Cal and ASU, are tied for third at 5-4 in the league, and Arizona is sixth at 4-5. Three teams are 3-6.

    Cal lost to Washington and Washington State, both of which are tied for seventh with Oregon.

    “”You beat a team here, and somebody else beats that team. It’s definitely been much more competitive,”” Boyle said.

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