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Utah women’s basketball: Utes face No. 4 Stanford in Pac-12 home opener

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women’s basketball team returns to Salt Lake City for its Pac-12 home opener Friday, welcoming No. 4-ranked Stanford into the Huntsman Center.

The Utes, who are 7-6 overall, closed nonconference play on a five-game winning streak before dropping their first two Pac-12 games in Southern California last weekend. Utah fell to UCLA, 55-38, last Friday and then to USC, 55-47, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Stanford (13-1) is in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, giving up its only loss to top-ranked Connecticut at the beginning of the season. The Cardinal defeated Oregon (96-66) and Oregon State (89-67) in its first venture into 2014 conference play.

In spite of the losses, the Utes were stellar in multiple facets of last weekend’s games. They outrebounded the Southern California teams, 96-70, and held them to just 16.7 percent (3 for 18) from behind the 3-point line.

Utah has been led all season by the play of senior forward Michelle Plouffe and freshman forward Emily Potter. Both have been honored by the Pac-12 — the former as a player of the week and the latter as a freshman of the week — and both are leading the team in scoring (17.9 and 11.5 points per game, respectively) and rebounding (10.7 and 6.4 rpg, respectively).

Stanford also boasts a return star in 6-foot-4 senior Chiney Ogwumike. A two-time All-American and member of USA Basketball, Ogwumike tops the Cardinal with 26.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. She has already been named the Pac-12 Player of the Week five times in nine weeks this season.

Stanford Cardinal at Utah Utes

Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City

Friday, 6 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: 700 AM

Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.