Women’s Basketball: Card cruises in Pac-10 home opener

Jan. 7, 2011, 1:49 a.m.

Continuing a streak of impressive play, the Cardinal women’s basketball team dusted off a feisty Arizona team with a second-half run to pull away for an 87-54 victory.

No. 4 Stanford (11-2, 2-0 Pac-10) opened up strong, and junior guard Lindy La Rocque’s three pointer made the score 9-0 after four minutes. The Cardinal was content to let Arizona fire up outside shots while the Card used its imposing size advantage to take control of the game early on.

Arizona (11-3, 2-1) went halfway through the first half making only one of its first eight attempts from beyond the arc. Despite a solid start from Stanford’s triangle offense, the Wildcats stuck to their player-to-player defense, leading to three Cardinal players cruising to layups on three separate occasions.

The Wildcats made a push halfway through the first half, making a few outside shots and causing the Cardinal to commit fouls, and with 7:43 left in the first half, the Cardinal’s lead had shrunk to five points.

Women's Basketball: Card cruises in Pac-10 home opener
Nnemkadi Ogwumike, No. 3 above, posted a game-high 24 points for the Cardinal last night. (Luis Aguilar/The Stanford Daily)

The lead remained five throughout the first half, as Stanford’s defense on the block was susceptible to Arizona’s quick pick-and-roll offense. With 3:51 to play in the first half, the Cardinal’s lead was still only five.

A late Nnemkadi Ogwumike layup pushed the lead to seven, and the Cardinal carried a 40-33 at halftime. Even though the Card had a 31-17 rebounding advantage at halftime, head coach Tara VanDerveer said her team came out sluggish.

VanDerveer said she called her team out to play better at halftime, and the Cardinal responded.

Stanford came out playing tough defense in the second half, feeding Nnemkadi Ogwumike the ball early and often, letting her attack the left block. She responded by shaking her defender for two easy layups and a crisp fadeaway jumper, helping Stanford go on a 13-0 run to start the second period.

“I met with [senior forward] Kayla Pedersen and [senior guard] Jeanette Pohlen, I told them they needed to do their job better, and it shows what kind of leaders they are that I can get on them and they can respond in a positive way,” VanDerveer said.

Arizona broke its scoring drought with 13:48 left in the game when forward Ify Ibekwe hit a layup, but the damage was already done. The two Ogwumike sisters were far too busy putting on a clinic.

In the first 10 minutes of the second half, older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks, and younger sister Chiney Ogwumike had four points, three rebounds, one block and one steal.

Pohlen said the super sisters were the missing piece in the sluggish first half.

“[VanDerveer] knows our potential, and we’ve shown the whole country now what we can do,” she said. “She made us focus on running more…to push it and to get the ball to Nneka on the block.”

Bolstered by her strong second half, Nnemkadi Ogwumike led the way for the Cardinal with 24 points and eight rebounds. Pohlen finished with 13 points, and Pedersen and Chiney Ogwumike finished with identical 11-point, 11-rebound games. Freshman guard Sara James also added seven points in the second half.

Recovering from a two-game skid in mid-December, Stanford will have an opportunity to extend its winning streak to seven when it hosts Arizona State on Saturday.

The Sun Devils (10-3, 2-1) coasted through their non-conference schedule and opened Pac-10 play with a sweep of the Oregon schools. The latter feat was particularly impressive, as ASU was able to hold the Ducks’ offense to just 67 points. Oregon had been leading the conference with 89 points per game going into the contest.

The Sun Devils hit a bit of a stumbling block last night, though, falling to Cal, 67-55. Stanford defeated Berkeley convincingly last weekend, 78-45.

Recent history certainly favors the Cardinal, but things look good for Stanford even if you go farther back–the Cardinal cruised past ASU, 62-43 in Tempe in their most recent meeting, last February.

Stanford will tip off against the visiting Sun Devils in Maples Pavilion tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Login or create an account