At Maples Pavilion last night the Stanford women’s basketball team routed Washington State 75-41 to tighten its grasp on top spot in the Pac-12 conference.
The No. 4 Cardinal (17-1, 7-0 Pac-12) came into this game unbeaten in 52 games against the Cougars (9-9, 3-3), on a 12-game winning streak and facing an opponent that had dropped its last two contests, but none of that seemed to matter at the start.
Washington State pushed hard from the tip-off, scoring the first bucket and keeping up an intense rhythm that worked noticeably to its advantage. Both teams were running full pace up and down the court in attack and defense, leading to errors on both sides, but because Stanford was never able to really settle, it struggled early on to make home advantage count. With 7:54 gone in the first half the Cougars led by four and were shooting close to 50 percent while the Card was struggling to break 30 percent from the field. From that point, though, the tide began to turn and Stanford went on a 20-5 run to close out the half with an 11-point lead.
“Washington State plays a great 3-2 zone,” explained sophomore forward Chiney Ogwumike. “They’re really aggressive and it takes a little while for you to feel your way through as an offense. We were just trying to make the proper adjustments…and by the time we started really paying attention to the particulars, it really opened up the floor, people were able to penetrate and make great post-entry passes. It just took us a while to get our rhythm, but it’s always good when you can find that early in the game,” she said.
Stanford brought this improved form back for the second period, steadily extending its lead, while the Cougars couldn’t repeat the intensity that had caused the Card problems early on. While the WSU defense made just three steals in the game, all in the first half, the Cardinal made 12 by the final buzzer, and by the end of the contest Stanford was shooting better than its opponent.
While both senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike and her sister Chiney recorded double-doubles — with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and 19 and 12, respectively — Stanford received improved contributions from the bench. Shooting, though, is certainly an area where work is still needed, particularly after the Cardinal shot 4-for-20 from behind the three-point arc. However, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer was clearly buoyed by the performance in general, and was particularly upbeat about this black mark.
“I know we have great shooters on our team and I’m excited that we’re doing so well and shooting poorly,” VanDerveer said. “It’s almost scary when you’re shooting really, really well and you win, because then what if you have an off night?”
Next up for the Card is Washington — which is coming off a 71-47 loss to California — this Saturday at 2 p.m.