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Michelle Smith | | December 16, 2019

Women's basketball rankings: Stanford leads an unchanged Power 10 as teams approach conference play

See the top buzzer beaters, daggers and half-court prayers in Week 5 women's basketball top plays

With no losses among Power 10 women's basketball teams this week, nothing much truly changes.  

Some teams had time off for final exams. Only one team this week, Louisville, faced a ranked opponent. But more interesting days are about to come and we aren’t even talking about the eggnog and the presents. Conference play is close. So very close.

Here’s the NCAA Power 10 for the week ending Dec. 15, 2019:

1) Stanford (9-0) (1). The Cardinal, back from a two-week finals break and wearing their new No. 1 mantle, have begun their pre-Christmas gauntlet and it started successfully with a strong win over a dangerous Ohio State team. It continues Wednesday with the annual matchup against Tennessee at Maples, followed by a road trip to face the improving Texas Longhorns. Tara VanDerveer’s depth isn’t what it was to start the season as senior DiJonai Carrington, sophomore Lacie Hull and junior Maya Dodson are unavailable with injuries.

2) Oregon State (9-0) (2). Make it nine straight wins for the Beavers after a Saturday victory over Utah State. They're one win away from the best start in school history. And a lot of the credit goes to Mikayla Pivec, who has been the leading scorer for OSU in five of those game and the leading rebounder (out of the guard spot) in six. The Beavers have three more games before start of the Pac-12 schedule: Northern Arizona, BYU, Bakersfield. There is a good chance OSU will be 12-0 when conference play opens.

3) Connecticut (8-0) (3). The Huskies will play No. 16 DePaul on Monday in Chicago in their first matchup of the season against a ranked team. Connecticut has won 16 straight games in this series, ranging back to 1983 before either Geno Auriemma or Doug Bruno were at their respective schools. The biggest key for UConn in a tough matchup will be whether Crystal Dangerfield, who missed last week’s Notre Dame game because of back spasms, will be able to play.

4) Oregon (8-1) (4). With Kobe Bryant sitting courtside, Sabrina Ionescu put on a show Saturday against Long Beach State, scoring 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists for her 42nd career double-double. Next up for the Ducks is UC Riverside on Monday, where Oregon looks to add to its impressive run of 35 straight non-conference home wins.

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5) Louisville (10-1) (5). The Cardinals passed a big test Sunday with a one-point road win over No. 14 Kentucky in Lexington, its second win over a ranked opponent this season. Louisville was down double digits before taking the lead, and then holding on. Next up is one more game before the holiday break, a road game at Tennessee-Martin.

6) South Carolina (9-1) (6). The Gamecocks easily handled Purdue Sunday, a game in which six players scored in double-figures and proved that this is a team finding its identity, including a stout defense that did not allow Purdue a field goal in the final quarter. Thursday’s meeting against Duke will tell Dawn Staley even more about her team.

7) Baylor (8-1) (7). The Bears come off a two-week break on Wednesday with a game against Arkansas State, followed by a post-Christmas matchup with Morehead State before the start of Big 12 play. The biggest question isn’t whether Baylor will be in a position to win these games, but whether Lauren Cox is close to returning, particularly in time for the start of conference play. Cox has now missed seven games with a foot injury.

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8) Florida State (10-0) (8). The Seminoles were pushed Sunday, but came out with a 74-70 home win over St. John’s to push their record to 10-0 for the second time in the last three seasons and the fourth time in program history. Next up is a home game against Northern Florida on Wednesday before hitting the road to face Michigan in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase in Uncasville, Connecticut.

9) UCLA (9-0) (9). The Bruins won easily against Pacific on Sunday. As they have been winning easily for most of the start of this season. But now it gets hard for perhaps the first time for UCLA. A road game against Georgia on Thursday followed by a weekend matchup in Bloomington against a tough Indiana team will be a true barometer for Michaela Onyenwere, Japreece Dean and company before the start of Pac-12 play. Onyenwere, it should be noted, has scored at least 20 points in four of the last five games.

10) North Carolina State (10-0) (10). The Wolfpack, tied for the third-best undefeated start in program history, have only one game in the next 10 days, a matchup against Chattanooga before opening ACC play against Boston College on Dec. 29. Sophomore post Elissa Cunane is emerging as a go-to talent. She posted her sixth double-double of the season against Elon with a career-high 28 poits to go with 16 rebounds. She has scored at least 20 points in three games this season.

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