By Nate Adams
Stanford demolishes Oregon by 44 points
There aren’t many better ways that Stanford could have started its final homestand of the regular season. The No. 2 Cardinal cruised past Oregon last night, routing the nation’s second-best scoring team in an offensive showcase of its own. All five Stanford starters posted double-figure point totals as the Cardinal downed the Ducks, 104-60. Junior guard Jeanette Pohlen led both teams with 26 points in the win, which gives Stanford the chance to clinch at least a share of its 10th consecutive conference title on Saturday.
“Our team really came out inspired and worked very hard,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “This is a great team win for us, and we’re playing well at the right time.”
In what would soon turn into a frenetic, fast-paced contest, the Cardinal (24-1, 14-0 Pac-10) set the tempo early with an energetic, moving offense. Pohlen got the ball off the tip to begin the game, and the guard was quick to get Stanford’s offense rolling against the Ducks (16-9, 7-6). Less than a minute in, she sank a wide-open three after a quick flurry of Cardinal passes to put Stanford on the board with the game’s first points. She would add another two a moment later, and went on to score 12 points in less than 10 minutes.
Stanford employed a pass-heavy offensive scheme early on, with Pohlen and the other guards doing most of the scoring. Peppering the basket from the perimeter, redshirt senior guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and redshirt junior guard JJ Hones continued to establish Stanford’s early dominance from beyond the arc. Just four minutes into the contest, the Cardinal was 3-6 on threes and 1- 4 on two-pointers. The team finished the half shooting 9-for-18 from long range.
The Cardinal’s other position players would soon pick things up, however, driving to the basket and scoring from the paint. Senior center Jayne Appel scored her first points with 11:33 remaining to make it 20-9, and two minutes later junior forward Kayla Pedersen would force a Duck timeout as she made it 28-15 with a driving layup. Appel electrified the crowd with an emphatic layup following a court-length pass from Pohlen to make it 48-24 at 2:33, and would finish the half with 16 points and 10 rebounds, earning a double-double with eight seconds remaining. Pedersen, meanwhile, cashed in 12 points. Notably absent from the first half leaderboards was sophomore forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike–the conference’s current shooting leader, at 63.7 percent entering Thursday’s game, had only four points in the half.
For VanDerveer, it was encouraging to see a balanced dynamic of passing, accurate shots and driving to the basket.
“I thought we did break their pressure with passing. We handled their press really well with good passing,” she said. “I was really excited to see Jeanette and Ros, JJ, Kayla. All of them knocked down their perimeter shots, but at the same time were looking for Jayne. She drives the bus; we’re going to Jayne, and if Jayne is open I want her getting the ball…Jayne is unstoppable one-on-one and we want to look for her, but other people [need to] open it up a little, and I was happy to see that tonight…We just really wanted to play our game, which involves some running too and knocking down some shots and really a balanced attack of going inside and outside.”
Oregon head coach Paul Westhead, in his first year with the Ducks, was disheartened with the loss, his team’s biggest of the season. The Ducks, riding a four-game winning streak into last night’s game, hadn’t scored 60 or fewer points since mid-December.
“It was a nice win for Stanford, they played very [well] and shot the ball well…We struggled for the whole 40 minutes.
“They play you inside-out, outside-in,” he continued. “They shoot the ball from the outside. They keep you honest, and then if you try and take away their outside play they’re going to go inside and cut you up…That’s not easy to defend.”
On the defensive side, Stanford was able to stymie the offensively gifted Ducks, who averaged 85.3 points per game entering Thursday’s contest. The Cardinal kept them away from the basket, allowing only two points from the paint in the first 15 minutes. Senior guard Taylor Lilley, Oregon’s offensive leader with 17.8 points per game, was held scoreless by the persistent defense of Gold-Onwude.
“Ros’s defense was awesome. Lilley is averaging 20 points a game,” VanDerveer said. “I’m just here to tell you that Ros is the Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-10. She takes pride in her defense and she sets the tone. I thought Jeanette D’ed it up pretty well, too. Jackson tore us up last time we played.”
Gold-Onwude made her presence felt on the offensive side as well, especially at the end of the half. Just 90 seconds apart from each other, the Queens, New York native downed a pair of threes from deep on the right side to help put the Cardinal up 59-27 as the half expired. At the time, Stanford was outshooting the Ducks 54.8 percent to 28.2 percent.
The Cardinal didn’t slow down in the second half. Ogwumike immediately got more involved as Stanford’s offensive kept on the pressure, scoring 13 points in the first eight minutes and drawing two fouls in the process. Just six minutes into the half, Gold-Onwude hit a two-point jump shot that made her the last Stanford starter to hit double-digit points. She would finish with 11 points in 27 minutes of play, joining Pedersen (14), Ogwumike (17), Appel (26) and Pohlen (26) in their impressive offensive outputs.
For Pohlen in particular, it was a career game. The Brea, Calif. native has been playing solid offense recently, averaging 9.5 points per game in the four games prior to last night’s contest, but soared to new personal heights against the Ducks. With the three-pointer she made with nine minutes remaining to make it 93-50, Pohlen broke her previous offensive record of 21, set in March last season. She added another basket from beyond the arc just 90 seconds later for her sixth three of the match, breaking her previous record of five that she last posted just four weeks ago, also against Oregon.
The Ducks, meanwhile, had a marginally better second half on offense, shooting 37.1 percent from the field as opposed to 28.2 percent. Senior guard Micaela Cocks and junior forward Victoria Kenyon led the way with 20 and 13 total points, respectively. For Oregon, the half was highlighted by a Cocks buzzer-beater from deep in the corner with eight minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the Ducks, that made it just 93-52.
As Stanford continued to run away with the game, both teams began to use their bench players. At one point, only two players on the court had scored any points–five for Oregon’s Lilley, and two for Stanford’s freshman forward Joslyn Tinkle. Stanford snuck into triple digits on a Tinkle two-pointer with 5:30 remaining, making the score 101-52. It was the first time Stanford had scored more than 100 points since last facing Oregon, when the Cardinal won 100-80.
With the win–Stanford’s 43rd consecutive victory at home–the Cardinal has positioned itself to capture its 10th consecutive regular season Pac-10 title, and is looking to be in top form as the playoffs loom.
Stanford will look to secure a share of the Pac-10 title tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against Oregon State. The game, the last at Maples Pavilion before the NCAA playoffs, is also the Cardinal’s annual Senior Night.