Stanford routs Arizona for 53rd straight home win
STANFORD – Red-faced and frustrated, Tara VanDerveer let her team have it at halftime. She called out her captains: Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen.
After that, Stanford shot a season-best 70.4 percent over the final 20 minutes and turned a close game into a rout.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 24 points and eight rebounds and No. 4 Stanford beat Arizona 87-54 on Thursday night for its 53rd straight home victory at Maples Pavilion.
“We came out sluggish I didn’t like our shot selection early in the game. I wasn’t excited at halftime,” VanDerveer said. “I think it just shows what kind of leaders they are. I can get on them and they responded in a positive way.”
The Cardinal, back on their home floor for the first time since snapping then-top-ranked Connecticut’s record 90-game winning streak last Thursday, used the huge second half to take charge against a team that often gives them trouble.
Chiney Ogwumike and Pedersen each added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Pohlen scored 13 for Stanford (11-2, 2-0 Pac-10) to go with five rebounds and five assists.
The Cardinal, who moved up five spots in this week’s rankings after a sensational week and thrilling victory over UConn, extended their winning streak against Arizona to 18 games.
“We can kind of tell at halftime when she’s happy with us and when she’s not,” Pohlen said of her coach. “I think she knows our potential. We’ve shown the whole country what we can do. When we don’t continue to show that same style of play she can be hard on us. If she wasn’t getting on us there would be a problem.”
The Wildcats (11-3, 2-1), led by Shanita Arnold’s 13 points, had their six-game winning streak snapped.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike shot 12 for 17 and also had two steals and two blocks – showing no effects of a scare in Stanford’s 78-45 blowout of rival California on Sunday in the teams’ Pac-10 opener.
The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year left that game in the second half after landing on her shoulder and then experiencing headaches, though her head didn’t hit the floor. The junior forward was limited to non-contact work in practice this week and was checked for concussion-like symptoms.
This marked the Cardinal’s fifth straight victory since an 82-72 overtime loss at Tennessee on Dec. 19 – and first win at home after the 71-59 win over UConn last Thursday night before a sellout crowd.
Stanford made 19 of 27 shots in the final 20 minutes to finish at 52.9 percent for the game and held a 50-35 rebounding advantage.
“When you don’t execute and don’t get the shots and try to play a half-court game with them, it’s going to be difficult,” Arnold said.
The scrappy, aggressive Wildcats, who swept the Oregon schools in Tucson last weekend, hung tough with Stanford in the first half and were within 40-33 at the break despite shooting 4 for 4 from 3-point range and missing their first eight field-goal tries.
Things changed in a hurry after halftime. Stanford established its transition game and was off.
“When they’re knocking down shots like that there’s not a lot you can do,” Arizona coach Niya Butts said. “The way they’ve been playing since their two losses in a row, they’ve been playing out of their mind. Naturally not a lot of people have beaten them here in quite some time.”
Arizona leading scorer Ify Ibekwe, who came in averaging 15.5 points and 10.3 rebounds, was held to eight points on 4-for-13 shooting. She also committed five turnovers.
It was Taylor Dalrymple who hurt the Cardinal in the first half. She finished with eight points.
Arizona is a team that has caused Stanford fits – and VanDerveer was slightly uncomfortable about this game.
The Wildcats pushed Stanford in a 72-52 Cardinal victory in last season’s Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals. VanDerveer was forced to turn to star Jayne Appel, who played on a sprained right ankle. Stanford led 43-40 with 13:21 to play, then Appel entered the game and helped her team immediately score eight straight points and go on a 19-6 run.