Jazmine Davis chuckled at the thought of playing defense on Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike.
“I don’t think there is any way of stopping a player that good,” she said. “We can only try to contain her — say, keep her at 20. Ogwumike’s going to get her points. She’s that good.”
Ogwumike, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year, is averaging close to 29 points and 13 rebounds per game during conference play. Most media outlets project the 6-foot-4 senior to be the first pick in April’s WNBA draft.
Sunday, Ogwumike will be at Hec Edmundson Pavilion for No. 3 Stanford’s matchup with Davis and the Washington women’s basketball team at 2 p.m. The Huskies (12-9, 5-5 Pac-12) also host No. 23 California on Friday at 8 p.m. to start one of their most challenging weekends of the season, which features two opponents who reached the Final Four last year.
The Huskies have lost 14 straight to Stanford, the 13-time defending Pac-12 champion. Head coach Mike Neighbors knows Ogwumike is not the only weapon in the Cardinal’s arsenal.
“I’m not saying we aren’t going to double-team her, but you can’t sell out to just stopping her because their other players are certainly good enough to win games,” Neighbors said. “They’ve got great players at every position. You just hope that [Ogwumike] has to do something superhuman to get her 30 and 15.”
Ogwumike has helped Stanford go undefeated thus far during Pac-12 play, including a pair of victories over Cal last week. The Golden Bears were a top-10 team to start this season and have a dynamic post player of their own.
Junior forward Reshanda Gray has carried the scoring load for Cal after Layshia Clarendon, who led Cal in scoring last year, was selected in the WNBA draft. Gray has given Pac-12 teams problems with multiple 30-point games during conference play.
But Davis said the Huskies are confident after sweeping the Los Angeles schools on the road last weekend. And if there’s a position the UW is built to defend, it might be forward.
The Huskies have a healthy frontcourt, one in which Neighbors regularly rotates four different players in two spots. And that doesn’t include 6-foot-3 sophomore Mathilde Gilling, who Neighbors referred to as the team’s best post defender.
Freshman Chantel Osahor, one reason for the UW’s improved frontcourt, said she looks forward to facing Stanford and Cal.
“There are amazing bigs in the Pac-12 and there will be a couple more this weekend,” Osahor said. “It’s such a big level of competition, but it’s a fun experience.”
If the Huskies get by Cal on Friday night, they will have two ranked wins this season after failing to beat a ranked foe in the previous five years. But their first was over Colorado, which has flopped during Pac-12 play and likely lost its chance to make the NCAA tournament.
The UW is 95th in RPI after its wins over USC and UCLA. It will take an impressive run down the stretch for the Huskies to reach their first Big Dance since 2007, and this weekend is a prime opportunity for them to continue making a statement.
Reach reporter Justin Lester at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JustinDLester
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