Both Stanford and USC featured a pair of sisters in their starting lineup. The sister duos hail from neighboring suburbs of Houston. But that was where the similarities stopped on Thursday as the Ogwumike sisters dominated the sibling battle against USC’s Gilbreath sisters to lead Stanford to a 69-52 victory at Maples Pavilion.
Nnemkadi, the older Ogwumike, rewrote the history books in the process, passing Jayne Appel for third on the all-time scoring list. She teamed up with younger sister Chiney to overpower USC on the block.
The Cardinal outscored the Women of Troy 34-14 in the paint, as Nneka paced Stanford’s scoring attack with 22 points. The older Ogwumike was joined in double figures by Chiney, who had 21, as well as sophomore guard Toni Kokenis, who added 15. Chiney also set a career-high for blocked shots with six and tallied her sixth-straight double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds.
Sophomore Briana Gilbreath and senior Ashley Corral led the Women of Troy with 11 points apiece. Stanford (21-1, 12-0 Pac-12) remained undefeated in the Pac-12 and firmly in control of first-place in the conference. USC (12-11, 6-6) came into the game tied for fourth in the Pac-12, and the loss dropped them to .500 in conference play.
With a 12-2 run midway through the first half, Stanford pulled firmly ahead in a contest that had looked close for the first few minutes. Back in December at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Stanford squandered the same 12-point advantage and led USC by just three points at the half, inspiring the Trojans to push hard at the start of the second. But this time around, the Cardinal did not make the same mistake, holding its 33-22 halftime lead.
Corral, USC’s all-time leading three-point shooter and the Pac-12’s leader this season, had 14 of her 21 points in the first half of the December matchup between the two schools, but was held to just four in the first 20 minutes last night. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Corral had managed just 11 points.
In contrast, Stanford’s own star senior, forward Nneka Ogwumike, hit a jumper and drew a foul with 13:35 left in the first half to first tie and then pass her old Stanford teammate forward Jayne Appel on the all-time points list. Her 22 points pushed her total to 2,143. Next on the list is guard Kate Starbird, in second place, with 2,215 points.
USC came out of the locker room firing in the second half. Corral tickled the twine with a deep three-pointer to cut the Stanford lead to six just over a minute into the half, but the Cardinal responded quickly with back-to-back inside buckets by the Ogwumikes.
Minutes later, Chiney grabbed a defensive rebound and dished the ball to Kokenis, who launched a pass to a streaking Nneka for a fast-break layup. The basket stretched the Stanford advantage to 14 points.
Free throws were key down the stretch for the Cardinal. The team hit five of six over the final three minutes to ice the game. Just as crucial was the stifling Cardinal defense that limited USC to 29 percent shooting on the night.
“I thought it was our defense,” said Stanford head coach Tara Vanderveer. ”We really worked hard defensively, and we got out running. We got some nice breaks that opened things up a little bit.”
The win was Stanford’s 75th in a row at home dating back to 2007, and the Cardinal has not lost a regular-season game at Maples since 2004.
The Cardinal next grapples with the Bruins of UCLA Sunday at noon in the friendly confines of Maples Pavilion. UCLA is coming off a 58-67 loss at Cal on Thursday.