With wins against UCLA and USC, Stanford women’s basketball is back on top of the Pac-12 Conference, tied with Cal for first. A narrow victory over USC (7-10, 4-2 Pac-12) on Sunday provided a huge morale boost for the Card (16-2, 5-1 Pac-12) as it took down the Trojans 75-66 at Maples.
Stanford had four players reach double-digit scoring to help the team seize the lead and never relinquish it.
Stanford junior forward Chiney Ogwumike led all scorers with 29 points and 16 rebounds, recording her thirteenth double-double of the season. Ogwumike’s presence on the boards allowed the Trojans only five offensive rebounds in the game. Of her 29 points, 23 were scored in the second half.
“She [Ogwumike] is an All-American and she’s playing like one,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “She’s battling inside — rebounding, scoring, doing whatever we need.”
Another offensive threat for the Card was senior forward Joslyn Tinkle. After shooting a perfect 4-4 from the three-point line against UCLA, she continued her stellar shooting by going 3-3 from downtown against USC. Despite an ankle injury incurred in practice prior to the Cal loss, Tinkle poured in 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Junior guard Sara James secured her spot in the starting line up after solid play against UCLA on Friday and a stellar performance against USC. She had 13 points and four rebounds, despite only averaging 4.7 points for the season.
“She [James] is playing so hard, there’s no one else that is making it [the starting spot] even competitive,” VanDerveer said. “Our bigger line up is not what I like.”
“Since day one I knew the Sara was the most competitive person and she works hard and cherishes every moment she’s on the floor,” said Ogwumike. “She’s a great learner and very positive so when times get tough she’s one that we can depend on … as a junior she values being the leader. She doesn’t have a soft bone in her body and that attitude is contagious.”
Also for the Card, sophomore point guard Amber Orrange had a great night, shooting .66 from the field, finishing with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. The triple-threat play of Orrange, Ogwumike, and Tinkle was instrumental in the Card’s victory and will be the key to future success.
USC’s star player, junior forward Cassie Harberts, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. After only scoring five points in the first half, Harbert, with the help of sophomore guard Ariya Crook (18 points), was able to propel the USC offense and cut a 19-point deficit in the second half to just five with 2:30 remaining in the game.
“It was the combination of turning the ball over and missed shots that gave them the ball and they came back,” VanDerveer said. “They have very quick, athletic guards and they were able to take us off the dribble to the basket. Our defense held us in there. We worked really hard defensively and we’re going to have to knock down some shots and we need a little more offense from more people and a little more help. Whoever’s playing well is going to play. So get more people out there contributing would be my plan.”
However, the electric performance of Ogwumike in the end helped the Card hold onto the lead and seal the win.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me,” Ogwumike said. ”[I was] just being patient with the ball. Coach tells me ‘don’t dribble’ because it sometimes brings the defense. I think my teammates did a good job of finding me when I was in position to attack the basket. There were a lot of big bodies inside, but the second half the ball movement helped.”
The Card resume Pac-12 play this weekend at home against Utah and Colorado.