After having a scare against Oregon State three weeks ago, No. 4 Stanford (17-1, 8-0 Pac-12 Conference) has won every game since by at least 18 points and seems to be rolling right along.
But its cross-Bay counterpart might have something to say about that.
“It’s all been about being aggressive,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We came off of a sluggish game against Oregon and Oregon State and our team since then has been really aggressive and I’m really happy about that.”
Cal (15-5, 6-2) has won six straight after losing its first two conference games and sits only two games behind the Cardinal for the Pac-12 lead.
“They’re a great challenge for our team and our team is very excited about playing them,” VanDerveer said.
But the two teams have taken completely different paths to their success.
Cal has five players averaging double figures during its six-game winning streak.
“They have excellent depth, which has been something Cal has not had a lot of,” VanDerveer said. “You’re going to hear these names over and over for years to come because they’re really talented players.”
Over the last three games, sophomore Gennifer Brandon has continued her dominance on the boards with 34, including a 15-point, 15-rebound performance against Utah.
Layshia Clarendon and Talia Caldwell are also averaging over 10 points per game during that same stretch.
Stanford has been carried by Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike, who have put up stellar numbers all season.
Chiney, who was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second straight week, collected her eighth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds against Washington on Saturday.
“Chiney has been in [Nnemkadi]’s shadow a lot this year, but she’s really stepping out,” VanDerveer said. “She is a high-energy player and she’s a pleasure to coach.”
Nnemkadi continues to lead the conference in scoring, rebounding and free-throw percentage.
But the Cardinal are getting help from other sources.
Amber Orrange dished out 12 assists in the last two games and has had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 7.3-1.
“She really takes care of the ball. She’s a real heady player,” VanDerveer said.
Stanford has won six straight against the Golden Bears and 38 of the past 41 meetings dating back to the 1994-95 season.
The Cardinal will be the fifth ranked team the Bears have faced and Cal is 1-3 in the previous four games. The three losses came by a combined six points.