By Tom Taylor
Last night the Stanford women’s basketball team extended its unbeaten streak in the Pac-12, defeating Utah 62-43 in Salt Lake City.
Again the No. 4 Cardinal (14-1, 5-0 Pac-12) started the game slowly, allowing the Utes (8-7, 1-3) to tie the game eight minutes into the contest, and the score stayed level at 10-10 for almost three whole minutes. From there, however, the Card noticeably improved, and the half ended with an 11-point lead. After the break, an eight-point unanswered run in the first two minutes of the second period put the game out of Utah’s reach, and it was relatively simple for Stanford from there on out.
The high points for the Cardinal were the double-doubles by both Ogwumike sisters, senior forward Nnemkadi and sophomore forward Chiney, as well as a nice night from sophomore guard Toni Kokenis, who joined them in double-figure scoring with 13 points. In reply, redshirt sophomore forward Taryn Wicijowski also grabbed a double-double for Utah and redshirt junior guard Iwalani Rodrigues scored 16 points.
Most of the Ogwumikes’ rebounds came defensively, which highlights a good defensive effort by the Cardinal in general. The low point, though, came on offense, with both teams shooting being below par: Utah managed just 27.8 percent from the field, and though Stanford was definitely better with 43.3 percent it hit just one from 11 three-point attempts.
The Card will next face Colorado (13-2, 2-2 Pac-12) at the Coors Event Center in Boulder tomorrow afternoon. The Buffaloes are recovering from a collapse against California last night that cost them a chance to enter a tie for second place in the conference. Colorado had a 12-point lead with just over 12 minutes left in the game, but would only score four more points in the contest as the Golden Bears surged back to win 68-55.
The Lady Buffs should still be a tricky proposition for Stanford, however, with the best overall record of any team except the Card in the Pac-12. When the two last met, albeit in March 2002, the Buffaloes recorded a narrow 62-59 home win. If the altitude of Salt Lake City played any part in Stanford’s shooting struggles in Utah, that too will provide additional home advantage to Colorado as Boulder sits over a thousand feet higher at 5,430 ft.
The player Stanford may need to be most wary of is junior guard Chucky Jeffrey, who grabbed 21 points against the Golden Bears and with 17.2 points per game, ranks near the top of the Pac-12’s scoring table. Nnemkadi Ogwumike, though, sits atop that list and exemplifies the difference between the two schools. Stanford’s top scorers are forwards who stand well over six-feet tall, while Colorado’s are guards several inches shorter. If the Cardinal can defend as well as it did against Utah, it will be in the ideal position to put this height advantage to good use against Colorado.
The contest between Stanford and Colorado will start at 3 p.m. PT in Boulder.