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W. Basketball: Stanford clinches share of 11th consecutive Pac-10 crown

The banner in the southwest corner of Maples Pavilion is going to need another update.

After a string of slow starts, Stanford women’s basketball came out firing against Oregon State last night as it kicked off Parents’ Weekend with a 73-37 blowout win at home, clinching a share of its 11th consecutive regular season title in the process. Stanford’s big night was highlighted by 16 points from forward Sarah Boothe, a redshirt sophomore who was the standout amid a number of Cardinal reserves that saw extended playtime on Thursday.

Freshman Toni Kokenis (13) drives in for two of her 10 points in the Cardinal's 73-37 rout of Oregon State Thursday night at Maples Pavilion. (LUIS AGUILAR/The Stanford Daily)

“It definitely says something about consistency,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, reacting to the streak of conference titles. “We have excellent competition in the Pac-10, and we’re really proud of having 11 championships. We want it by ourselves, though, not with [second-place] UCLA.”

If another Pac-10 title wasn’t enough, the No. 2 Cardinal (25-2, 16-0 Pac-10) made history in a few other ways. Thursday’s victory over Oregon State (9-17, 2-13) was Stanford’s 59th in a row at home, tying a program record. The win also secured the top seed for the upcoming Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.

For a moment in the early going, the Cardinal found itself down by a margin of 11-6 thanks to some timely three-point shooting from Beaver guard Sage Inendi, but the deficit wouldn’t last long. Stanford shut down the Beavers for the remainder of the period, driving hard to the glass and powering its way through a 17-0 run over the next 11 minutes. On the only play that saw a Beaver put the ball through the net during that stretch, Earlysia Marchbanks was called with a charging foul.

Stanford enjoyed a 29-14 lead at the half<\p>–<\p>a doubly impressive feat considering the absence of its leading scorer, Nnemkadi Ogwumike. The junior forward suffered an ankle injury against USC last Friday and hasn’t played since.

VanDerveer wouldn’t say if she would be ready for Saturday, but indicated that her injury had nearly recovered.

“If it was the tournament, she’d be playing,” she said. “Her ankle looks good, but I told her I want it 100 percent.”

With Stanford’s top forward missing, a roulette of reserves filled in the gaps for the Cardinal and kept OSU on its toes. Seven players scored in the first half alone<\p>–<\p>a number higher than OSU’s total field goals in the same period.

“Obviously, we depend a lot on Kayla [Pedersen] and Jeanette [Pohlen] and definitely Nneka, but it’s great to see people stepping up,” VanDerveer said. “They’ll all help us.”

As she did on Sunday, sophomore forward Joslyn Tinkle started in place of the elder Ogwumike. Her classmate, forward Mikaela Ruef, saw 10 minutes of playing time in the first half after averaging just 10.2 total minutes on the season, and Boothe saw plenty of time at the low post after coming off the bench and going a perfect 3-for-3 in the first half.

“I told our team that we’re an orchestra, it’s all about our whole team being successful,” VanDerveer said about the reserves. “But tonight we had a nice solo from Sarah Boothe. She really finished inside.”

Chiney Ogwumike put the team on her back in the second, scoring two crowd-pleasers in the first 60 seconds. That included a breakaway layup after she recovered a loose ball just beyond the Beavers’ three-point line, a move senior point guard Jeanette Pohlen emulated a minute later.

Freshman guard Toni Kokenis lit up the crowd as well, scoring a pair of fast-break layups to bring the Stanford lead to 43-26. On the second of those, the Illinois native made a lunging steal on a pass from Beaver guard Alexis Bostick and dashed for the left side of the hoop, dropping an easy basket that had VanDerveer pumping her fist on the bench.

Kokenis reached 10 points at 8:12, making her the fifth Stanford player to enter double digits. The only blemish on her record was a trio of second-half fouls.

Stanford slowed things down a bit as its reserves took over, but continued to play an open, perimeter-focused game that cut the Beavers’ zone defense to pieces. Pohlen scored a pair of threes in the half and Pedersen added another, while Tinkle and Sara James, a freshman guard, each netted one. Their shooting was dangerous enough to open things up for the forwards, who did the rest of the work. Stanford scored eight layups in the second half and shot 56.3 percent from the field.

The Cardinal will complete its final two-game series against Oregon tomorrow at 2 p.m., and then wrap up the regular season against Cal next Thursday at 8 p.m. Both games are at Maples Pavilion.