2017 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Semifinal preview: Oregon vs. Stanford
When: Saturday, March 4, at 8:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Oregon and Pac-12 Bay Area
After finishing 15-3 in an historic season down on The Farm, the Cardinal will return to the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament Semifinal to face off with the underdog Ducks.
Who to watch: Stanford
Stanford's consistency stems in large part from head coach Tara VanDerveer, who's been coaching in some capacity with the Card for 38 years and this season earned her 1,000th career victory -- becoming just the second NCAA women's coach to reach such a milestone. VanDerveer's tried-and-true gameplan has resulted in two NCAA titles and 11 Final Four appearances.
Senior Erica McCall, who also was in uniform for VanDerveer's 900th win, is a huge key to the Cardinal offense. McCall leads her team in points (14.7) and rebounds (8.5).
If the Ducks hope to advance to Sunday's final, they'll also have to stop senior Karlie Samuelson from beyond the arc. Samuelson's three-point skills were on full display in the Cardinal's win over Washington State, as she scored 21 with SIX threes. Samuelson leads all of Stanford with 77 threes this season and is second in the Pac-12 with a .477 shooting percentage from behind the arc.
Who to watch: Oregon
Coming into this week, Oregon hadn't won a Pac-12 Tournament game since 2008. In the past 48 hours they've notched two impressive wins, including a last-second, upset thriller over Washington to advance to the Semifinals.
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Sabrina Ionescu has been the driving force behind the Ducks' Pac-12 tournament success this season, most notably her two game-winning free throws vs. Washington on Friday night. Over the course of the season Ionescu led her team in assists (152), and was second in points (384) and rebounds (181). Her four triple-doubles were the most in country this season.
Another impressive freshman for Oregon is Ruthy Hebard, who was recently named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after averaging 8.5 reounds per game and leading UO with 264 on the season. She had nine huge boards in the upset win over Washington in the quarterfinals.
Junior Lexi Bando has been a staple for the Ducks the last three years, and her shooting range continues to impress. She not only led her team in threes this season with 62, but she was on when it mattered most: Bando put up 23 a team-leading 23 points and had five HUGE three-pointers in Friday's Quarterfinals win.