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Ogwumike saves career-best 37 points for Senior Night

The No. 5 Stanford women’s basketball team (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12) closed its regular season in outstanding fashion over the weekend by easily handling both of its Pac-12 foes from the state of Washington at Maples Pavilion. On Thursday, Stanford trumped the Washington Huskies (16-12, 9-8) by a score of 83-60 and continued the domination with an 84-64 victory of the Washington State Cougars (15-15, 9-9) on Saturday.

The Cardinal had payback on its mind in Thursday’s contest against Washington, which had handed Stanford its only Pac-12 loss of the season on Feb. 9. With stifling defense, the Stanford squad held the Huskies to 37 percent from the field and made sure that the Huskies didn’t repeat their impressive offensive performance from last month.

(FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

Senior forward Chiney Ogwumike (left) and National Player of the Year candidate had two 30-plus-point performances against the Washington schools this weekend in her last Pac-12 regular season games of her storied career. (FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

On the offensive side of the ball, Stanford was led by its All-American and National Player of the Year frontrunner, senior Chiney Ogwumike. Ogwumike continued her excellence with 32 points and 11 rebounds, marking her 21st double-double of the season. The Huskies’ zone defense had no answer for Ogwumike early on this time around, as she raced to 21 points in the first half. Although the Huskies had been able to limit Ogwumike last time around, Stanford’s guards were able to feed her the ball in the paint often this week, leading to success.

However, Ogwumike was not the only player to rise to the occasion for Stanford. The Cardinal got out to a quick start on Sunday as it hit three of its first four 3-point attempts to open the game up with a 13-2 lead. Two of the early long-range bombs belonged to junior sharpshooter Bonnie Samuelson. She was able to hit two more during the game, adding 14 total points to the Card’s effort. In a good sign for Stanford’s offense, four players on the team reached double digits in scoring on Thursday night: Ogwumike with 32, Samuelson with 14, freshman guard Lili Thompson with 11 and junior point guard Amber Orrange with 10.

Senior Mikaela Ruef grabbed 14 boards to lead the team in rebounding against Washington, continuing her dominance on the boards over the Huskies this year. In the last matchup of the two teams, she pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds.

In the second half, the Cardinal opened with another big 16-4 scoring run and the game was all but out of reach for the Huskies after that point.

While her Thursday performance against Washington was impressive, Ogwumike outdid herself in Stanford’s Saturday contest against the Washington State Cougars. She started out on fire, scoring 15 points in the first 12 minutes of the game, and finished with a career-high 37 points, saving the best for last on Senior Night.

On an afternoon during which the team celebrated its seniors, the Card came away with a big victory in what was possibly the team’s last game at Maples Pavilion this season—Stanford will host the third and fourth rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Though Stanford went into halftime with a lead of only eight points after the Cougars cut the deficit late, Stanford came out after the break and asserted itself early in the half. The Card opened the second half of play on a 10-0 run and kept Washington State out of striking distance for the rest of the game.

Orrange had another solid performance on Saturday, scoring 20 points, grabbing eight rebounds from the point guard position and dishing out four assists while guiding the Cardinal offense. Samuelson also reached double figures with 10 points, including two 3-pointers.

The emergence of consistent playing from Orrange, Thompson and Samuelson is an extremely positive sign for Stanford’s postseason outlook. Early on in the season, the question was whether players other than Ogwumike would be able to step up and score when the team needed it. Lately, Samuelson has been hot from beyond the arc, Orrange has been sailing a smooth offensive ship for the Cardinal offense and Thompson and other freshmen have been able to provide spark and energy for the team.

If Stanford can keep up its defensive intensity and keep a balanced scoring attack, its prospects for the upcoming postseason are bright. The Cardinal will travel to Seattle to compete in the Pac-12 Conference tournament this upcoming weekend. After earning a first-round bye, first-seeded Stanford will face the winner of Thursday’s Colorado-UCLA matchup on Friday afternoon at noon.

Contact Lauren Lockett at llockett ‘at’ stanford.edu.